Infinity 8: Volume Three: The Gospel According to Emma (2017)

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In theory, Infinity 8 is going to get exponentially more complicated as it progresses. With the conclusion of this volume, The Gospel According to Emma, the reader and the Infinity 8’s captain know almost nothing more about the solar system-sized space mausoleum the ship’s investigating. It’s not the captain’s fault, of course; like always, he and his sidekick call an agent up to the bridge to go over the mission, explaining how time will reset in eight hours. It’s not the captain’s fault the agent they picked—Emma O’Mara—is a zealot hell-bent on dooming everyone onboard the vessel for her religion.

Emma’s not just an agent either; she’s a Marshal and a celebrity. She’s not even supposed to be working—or so the ship’s officers think—she’s just another passenger headed across the galaxy. But she’s actually conspired with her religious sect to sabotage the vessel in order to discover a secret about her religion. There are various sects, all believing something different about their prophet’s final message—because it’s missing. Well, if the prophet had the message on him when he died, the prophet’s somewhere in that space graveyard.

Everything dead is somehow somewhere in that space graveyard. There’s some talk from the first officer about an intention at the center of the mausoleum, but Emma’s not really listening because she’s got almost a dozen coconspirators to check in with. In addition to everyone knowing Emma’s a badass Marshal, they also know she’s a pious one; three Infinities in, and Emma’s the only one the first officer doesn’t perv on.

I mean, he doesn’t have much time before she zaps him, but still, turns out there’s a limit to his inappropriateness.

Emma’s coconspirators are bankrolling the endeavor, as her sect apparently doesn’t have the available cash to do so. They each want something different from the space graveyard, which a psychic divined. So divination’s real in Infinity 8 or at least possible. Since we don’t know if time travel exists yet, there could also be an easy explanation for the fortune-telling.

Writers Lewis Trondheim and Fabien Vehlmann craft an action-packed suspense thriller, with Emma moving from ally to ally, enemy to enemy, making significant discoveries about the nature of her religion, reality itself, and herself. The volume’s got the most character development in an Infinity 8 so far; Emma’s religious journey, not to mention the trials of her subterfuge and insurrection, make for one heck of an arc. Plus, there are numerous villains in this arc. There are coincidental villains—like the robot trying to determine whether or not an interrupted message means to kill Emma or not—and there are deliberate ones.

And then there are the wanted criminals who Emma comes across in her daily life. Assembling her own “Dirty Nine” gang of tomb raiders seems like it’s going to bite her from the start (she starts getting suspicious almost immediately), but it takes a while for the actual villains to reveal themselves. Their motives even longer.

As usual, it’s eventually up to Emma to save the galaxy; she just happens to be in a pickle because she’s already betrayed her space cop badge to be a fundamentalist terrorist. Not to mention the story’s time limit’s built-in.

Lots of tension, absolutely no time to relax. Unlike the previous volumes, thanks to Emma’s zealotry, she doesn’t ever get to have a personable moment. Instead, she becomes personable through her volume-long character development. It’s excellent work from Trondheim and Vehlmann on the script.

Olivier Balez does the art this volume; it’s very different, warmer, cartoonier, with great enthusiasm for the various alien species. Balez maintains that enthusiasm, whether the aliens are being funny, evil, or getting lasered in two. Balez gets a lot of tones to move between, from macabre space archeology, robotic battles, standoffs, heists, double-crosses, triple-crosses, and religious melancholy. Gospel runs the gambit. About the only thing wrong with the art is it ends too soon; Balez could’ve gotten at least another page out of Emma’s finale.

So, while there are promises for future Infinity 8 volumes—we find out another piece in how Earth came to be destroyed this volume, the most information yet—Trondheim still hasn’t revealed enough to tip any scales.

Emma’s not even halfway through Infinity; Trondheim and his collaborators have more time ahead than behind; anything could happen, so long as it involves space graveyards and capable agents. The possibilities are almost… infinite.

Can’t wait.

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