By Jonathan Edwards
I literally had no idea what this was going in. I'd never heard of it, nor had I even read a synopsis. Really, the title just kind of jumped out at me from the spreadsheet. I figured InferNoct was probably a portmanteau of the words "inferno" and "nocturnal," which was at least as intriguing as it was vague. And after a quick glance at the art, I figured I might as well commit whole hog. So, I did. And after finishing this first installment, I can't really say whether or not my prediction of the title's meaning was accurate. But, I can say that it was a decent issue if ultimately flawed.
We start with a two-page vignette featuring someone wearing what I think is meant to be a contemporary take on a plague doctor costume. They arrive in a parking structure, travel through the ventilation shafts, and arrives at some shadowed area, where tendrils or vines or something extend out from the darkness. And, that's it. This is... well, let's just say it's a 'mixed bag' of an opening scene. On the one hand, the aesthetics of the character and environment are ominous and intriguing. Something interesting is going on here. Unfortunately, we barely get any idea of what that something is, and this short sequence is only tangentially connected to the rest of the issue. I'm honestly not sure if it's meant to take place before, after, or at the same time as the rest of the book.
Our actual story begins around dusk and with a young woman named Sam. She gets a ride from her friend Joey to her new job as a nighttime caretaker for an old man that lives in a creepy and rundown house. When she arrives, she finds instructions have been left for her (rather haphazardly, I might add), and her charge is sitting completely surrounded by house lamps. She's quickly able to get him to bed, and the rest of the night isn't all that eventful beyond Sam hearing a crash, checking on the old man to find some of the lamps broken, and then staying in his room with him until morning. Things immediately get a lot weirder a lot faster during the second night, when Sam finds the old man dressed in the 'plague doctor' outfit. I'm guessing this means it was him we saw in the opening scene, but the first thing that popped into my mind was that he'd been a member of some group of people that all wore that same suit as their uniform.
The art on display here is pretty good. The overall character designs feel on the simpler side, but great care has gone into the details of facial hair, some clothing, and pretty much all of the environments. Furthermore, the slightly sketchy art style blends really well with the gritty pallette to make a fairly atmospheric read. And, I do really the design of the 'plague doctor' outfit, even if that's not what it's supposed to be.
From what I can tell, InferNoct is going for something of a Lovecraftian feel, but I can't really tell you how successful it is at that yet. Really, I can't tell you much of anything about this series yet. The first issue kept my attention, but it doesn't really give a clear idea of the plot or direction of the story. Nor does it tell us much about Sam other than one or two things that can be inferred from lines of narration and dialogue, as well as one specific visual element. My best guess for subsequent issues is that Sam is going to become the old man's protege in whatever it is he does that undoubtedly deals with some dark and supernatural force. But as I said, that's a guess. And for that reason, I don't think I really recommend or not recommend this book. However, if the title and/or cover peak your interest, you do some research and like the premise, or if it just sounds interesting from what I've said here, then maybe check it out. But, only if you really want to.
Writer: Mina Elwell
Artist: Eli Powell
Colorist: Tristan Elwell
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Scout Comics