Comics: InferNoct - Series Reviewed (Issues #1 - 4)

InferNoct #1 was released in October of 2017 and published by Scout Comics. The premise of the story surrounds Samantha, a girl who is trying to turn her life around and become a better person, and in the process begins to slowly lose her sanity at the hands of the mind-rending creatures that are destroying her town. The story begins in issue one with Sam taking a job as an in-home caretaker for an elderly gentleman in her town. It is clear after her very first shift in the old, run down home full of abnormalities, that everything she sees there is not within the spectrum of normal.

InferNoct was written by Mina Elwell, who uses her descriptive written imagery along with a laid back, modern feeling dialogue to create a tale that certainly has a bit of a homage to Lovecraft woven within its colorful pages. The plot builds gradually and intensely throughout the story and as the momentum builds, even you as a reader can feel the terror of what it is like to have your sanity slowly slip away from you. Samantha is a character you want to root for; smart, witty and courageous, she pushes herself to be a better person, and regardless of consequences, does what it takes to try and save the people around her and defeat the elusive and terrifying InferNoct. The characterization of Samantha is steeped in gritty realism, and makes one wonder if Elwell found a kind of familiarity in the character that was created. This is a graphic novel written by a female writer about a female lead character and it is felt throughout its entirety. The deep emotions and anxiety that Samantha grows to feel throughout the entire story are conveyed in such a way that the true clear message of the book becomes glaringly apparent. This is a story about scary monsters, monsters that continuously lurk under our beds each night, the story of a monster that lives within many of us, a monster that slowly gains control over the lives and sanity of those around us. InferNoct is a story of the monster that is anxiety. 

Another thing that is truly special about this graphic novel is that it holds a story within a story. The beginning of each issue is done in a traditional graphic novel style: panels with images and words and dialogue. The final few pages of each issue tell a different story, in only written form, void of pictures. The prose style ending of a graphic novel is definitely one of my favorite kinds of closings, as you just invested time in letting words and art create a picture of a story for you, where with writing alone, your imagination is allowed to run wild and you can develop artistic mental panels of your very own. 

Eli Powell is no stranger to the scary or macabre. He has a real talent for taking something simple and creating something that leaves a reader with a strong sense of uneasiness. His ability to translate the feeling of intensity and anxiety that is slowly turning into madness onto paper through his art is quite wonderful. As a lifetime fan of psychological horror, I found myself studying the pages, really studying them, to look at all of the subtle details that were added to the background of settings just to further display the frantic, frenzied mental state of every character within the books. With each issue, the characters seem to grow darker, their facial features more hazy and the places around them more unsettling and unreal. Readers will begin finding themselves second guessing what is happening, what parts are real and what parts are just mental anguish that the monster antagonist of the story is tormenting the characters with? 

Though I was saddened to reach the end of this disturbing tale, I am certainly excited to share my experience with it. Creating a well written horror story with captivating artwork to accompany it and then showcase the reality of mental illness while doing so is certainly an impressive feat. Many readers will understand the symbolism of a monster growing inside you, inside those around us, making us doubt ourselves, question those around us until we are alone in the world, with nothing left but that inner monster, ready to consume us. Showing something that is so real and sobering while still being able to make our skin crawl through the horror of it all is a beautiful thing and I look forward to seeing what is on the horizon next for both Elwell and Powell. 

-Rachel Rutherford