If there's a problem to be found in Infinite Frontier #1, it's that it should have been released far, far sooner. The first installment in a six-issue miniseries arrives nearly four months after the release of Infinite Frontier #0, the wide-ranging one-shot that was expected to signify the newest shift in the status quo for DC Comics' canonical universe. If the months of comics that followed—a mix of new series, miniseries, and continuations of pre-existing story arcs—were any indication, that shift didn't possess the lasting impact readers expected. In Infinite Frontier #1, the idea of exploring a post-Dark Nights: Death Metal emphasizes a much smaller scope, but delivers a much more rewarding and intriguing story.
Without getting into too many spoilers, Infinite Frontier #1 covers the first rumblings of a conspiracy that spans the DC universe. From the investigations led by The Totality and Justice Incarnate to the sudden return of Roy Harper and a few more notable names, it's abundantly clear that another cataclysmic, "Crisis"-like event is making its way towards the DC multiverse—and it might not be playing out in the way readers would expect.
One of the things that stands out in Infinite Frontier #1 are universally compelling vignettes: a comics experience. The issue traverses pockets of the multiverse and wildly different arrays of characters, from household standards to Z-list heroes and surprise protagonists who fit somewhere in between. There's a consistent sense of scope and intrigue in every scene, whether it be Barry Allen cosmically bombarded by a familiar foe, or Cameron Chase and Director Bones having a conversation in a Parisian cafe.
While Infinite Frontier #0, and other event titles of a similar sort, can feel stretched too thin in putting their ensembles of characters all to good use, there's an optimism and intent with the various players and plot threads introduced in Infinite Frontier #1. Part of this may just be the sheer benefit of having Joshua Williamson serve as the sole writer, his ability to juggle an ensemble in a meaningful way in series like The Flash is put to good use here.
When it comes to the mystery of Infinite Frontier #1, the issue will leave fans with twice as many questions leaving as they had going in, but that's not a bad thing. The plot twists and surprises in this issue walk a line between continuing what was established in Death Metal and Infinite Frontier #0 and paving new ground. While there is no telling exactly what this series has up its sleeve, its ensemble and scope is so specific that there has to be an intent behind it all, as the more out-of-left-field characters like Captain Carrot or Doctor Psycho or most members of The Totality might not be included if there wasn't a clear narrative reason.
Compared to other event series of a similar caliber—which can shove dozens of characters into an issue, but leave most of them as pointless background cameos, there's something about this approach that feels refreshing and promising. It calls to mind some of the lesser-known events in DC's arsenal, whether it be the Silver Age Justice League/Justice Society team-ups, or smaller post-Crisis event titles like Millennium or Legends.
As much as the issue reads like a throwback, the artistic approach is still creative in a quintessentially modern way. Xermanico's art and colors are timeless in a style shared by many great, modern superhero comics—more defined and detailed than classic comics, but less busy and dated than the series of the 00s.
It's clearly no easy task to balance characters that hail from wildly different genres (or literally different worlds), but Xermanico makes it all feel stunningly cohesive and aesthetically pleasing, even making the flashbacks to Death Metal appear like canonized pieces of art. There's one sequence, in particular, that toys with decades of comic styles across a single page without ever being self-aware about it, in a way that genuinely inspired awe in me as I read. Romolo Fajardo Jr.'s lettering ties it all together, covering decades of canon and tones in a fashion that feels incredibly cohesive.
Infinite Frontier #1 is the strong start this newest chapter of DC Comics desperately needed—and I'm so very glad it's here now. This first issue turns with heart, spectacle, and mystery in a near-effortless production showcasing an eclectic array of characters. In a roundabout way, Williamson's script also proves just what DC Comics' universe is capable of with a story that reads like a modernization of weird 1980s team-ups. Combined with Xermanico's timeless art, Infinite Frontier #1 delivers a captivating adventure, one well worth the wait.
Published by DC Comics
On June 22, 2021
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Xermanico
Letters by Romolo Fajardo Jr.
Cover by Mitch Gerads