There’s nothing like feeling like an insider. Thanks to the various nods in the Marvel movies, comic books have given their fans plenty of opportunity to bask in the warm glow of being in an elite club of those in the know. Having been one of the cool kids, I had no idea how annoying that feeling is from the other side.
Infinite Seven by Dave Dwonch (writer) and Arturo Mesa (artist) has a really cool concept, but its full success really depends on how many of the TV and movie references you get.
Like, who are these people?
The story setup is that our hero, Anthony Zane, is stuck house-sitting for his parents in Leavenworth, Kansas. While he’s waiting for a date to show up, a superpowered antihero, Smash Brannagan, who looks suspiciously like Snake Plissken, kicks down the door claiming he’s looking for the supervillains’ secret headquarters. Things happen, and Anthony discovers that by having defeated the previous Smash, he’s now taken on Smash’s role—only without gaining any new superpowers. He’s just Antony, video-game designer, and now he’s part of a superassassin team that has a kill-or-be-killed attitude.
That part’s kind of cool. I found the concept that you become what you defeat, which isn’t limited to Smash, fairly fascinating—especially since one of the “archetypes” at play is Sherlock Holmes. Dwonch takes that one down some fairly interesting roads, and I was particularly pleased to have Sherlock finally canonized as gay, in this universe.
But here’s the thing. Sherlock, I get. Sherlock is the sort of literary archetype that you could find bumming around with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Smash Brannagan isn’t anyone I could find, but given his physical resemblance to Plissken, I can make the leap that, okay, maybe movie characters are part of this archetype. The archetype isn’t Kurt Russell because Russell isn’t only an action hero.
Because of that, I find it sort of problematic that one of the archetypes seems to be Bruce Lee, who is a person, not a character.
Denzel Washington and Bruce Lee, like Kurt Russell, are people who have inhabited lots of roles. So the problem here becomes: what are these archetype? Ubiquitous Asian martial artist? That one bad-ass black guy in all the movies, who is what? Interchangeable with all other black guys?
Am I the only one who feels awkward about this?
The worst part is that I wanted to like Infinite Seven more. Much of the writing is very clever, and when he’s dealing with original characters, I feel like Dwonch is a winner. Anthony’s love interest, that date he was waiting for, is possibly one of my favorite characters. I love how she’s the one to ask Anthony out, and when we last see her, she’s plotting how to figure out where Anthony has disappeared to. Plus, there’s a lovely connection between Anthony’s parents and the Smash character that’s well executed.
I just wish that Infinite Seven didn’t confuse archetype with stereotype.