Review: The Infinite Loop

Let's get this out of the way first.  Despite its surface trappings, "The Infinite Loop" is not a book about time travel: it's a book about LGBTQ issues. Author Pierrick Colinet has villains spout lines like "Are you a man or a woman anyway? I hate it when people refuse to choose" and "conservativism is the best thing that happened to humanity" while the heroes are bisexual, genderqueer, or simply feminist. The message is not subtle and unfortunately it is not particularly well-wrought as a strained analogy between time travel and gender identity is stretched well past its limit. Now this alone would not make "Infinite Loop" a bad comic, simply a didactic one (perhaps akin to Kelly Sue Deconnick's lyrical western, "Pretty Deadly"), but there is, unfortunately, very little to offset the bluntness of the book's message. "The Infinite Loop" is about a woman named Teddy whose job requires her to destroy temporal anomalies created by the alteration of the time stream (the culprits behind this alteration are never revealed in the first of many loose ends).  On one routine mission, Teddy is shocked to discover an anomaly in the form of a young Asian woman. Ignoring her directive for the first time, Teddy rescues the woman, making them both temporal outlaws. While not particularly original, this basic setup affords a number of potentially interesting sci-fi plot threads. Who runs Teddy's organization? What exactly is a temporal anomaly? What time period is Teddy from in the first place? Sadly, the actual plot lives up to the book's name as it quickly becomes mired in an ill-defined series of plot turns.

Layout 1While the first couple of issues are intriguing, espionage-flavored jaunts, the subsequent issues (especially the third) become incomprehensibly confusing sci-fi messes. Multiple timelines, time-alterations, paradoxes, and anomalies are all referenced or shown though no firm definition or context for any is ever given. Adding to the plot confusion are the layouts which show the same character in multiple places at once without panel breaks, which becomes particularly confusing in a book that already has multiple version of some characters.

One bright spot throughout the book is Elsa Charretier's art which evokes the character designs of Darwyn Cooke. The action scenes are rendered fluidly, and the art is pleasantly simplified and stylized creating a tone of clean adventure that the story never quite lives up to.  Adding to the appeal of the art is a series of flow charts that chart the possible choices the characters could make. These add to the theme of action and repercussion while also subtly indicating character moments (one chart repeatedly ends in "you idiot").

Sadly, that is one of the few moments of characterization to be found in the entirety of "Infinite loop". Teddy is given very little characterization early on except that she has no interest in "love"; however, when Ano enters the scene, it is a matter of a single day (or around there; time travel confuses these estimates) before she is having steamy sex scenes that last four pages. No justification is given for their relationship beyond raw attraction. In fact, Teddy admires Ano's body immediately and repeatedly and discusses it in a manner which, if coming from a man, would be incredibly creepy. Similarly, the actual relationship is nothing more than a series of sex scenes which are repetitive and uninformative. Why does Teddy risk her life (and the fate of the world; a plot point that should snap the LGBT parallel in two) for a girl she just met? What is Ano's motivations as she appears to be in some way artificial or at least, inhuman? These questions about the book's central relationship are never answered and none of the rest of the plot can fill their absence.

Score: 1/5

The Infinite Loop Author: Pierrick Colinet Artist: Elsa Charretier Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $19.99 Release Date: 11/18/15 Format: Trade Paperback, Print/Digital