Review: INFINITE FRONTIER: SECRET FILES #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Joshua Williamson, Brandon Thomas, Stephanie Phillips, Dan Watters
Artists: Valentine De Landro, Inaki Miranda, Stephen Byrne, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Christopher Mitten
Colours: Marissa Louise, Trion Farrell, Nick Filardi, Stephen Byrne, Dave Stewart
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Infinite Frontier Secret Files #1: Are you ready for the new Infinite Frontier series? Do you have the lowdown on all the characters? If not, this print edition of the digital-first Secret Files series will tell you everything you’re dying to know. Take a look inside Director Bones personal database for stories featuring Jade and Obsidian, the children of the original Green Lantern; Psycho-Pirate, the scourge of many a Crisis on many an Earth; President Superman, the Mutliverse’s ultimate beacon of hope; Roy Harper, back from the dead; and just who are the Totality…?! Featuring six stories in print for the very first time!
In preparation for Joshua Williamson and Xermanico’s Infinite Frontier, DC started releasing a series of digital releases under the title Infinite Frontier: Secret Files. These featured some major players in solo stories. The purpose seems to be to reintroduce readers to the characters, and show what their lives are as they head into the big event. Infinite Frontier: Secret Files #1 collects these six stories in a print edition.
These stories are connected by a framing story in which Director Bones of the D.E.O. listening to audio cassettes of reports from agent Cameron Chase. The reports relate the main stories with narration from Chase. However, it does raise some interesting questions. Some of these stories are set on other Earths. I was under the impression that the D.E.O.’s only operated on the main DCU Earth. Since when has Cameron Chase been travelling the Multiverse to report on other Earths?
That’s a big question at the centre of the fifth story, in which Bones listens to Chase’s assessment of Bones himself. Chase “Bones’s own past with the Multiverse”. This is a fascinating revelation about Bones. Prior to this story, there’s been no indication that Bones has any history outside of the main DCU. Bones’ history as a villain and subsequent reformation is known, but apparently there’s more to it than we knew.
Bones’ agenda is likewise a mystery. Chase acknowledges that he’s no longer a villain, but won’t go so far as saying he’s a hero. She characterizes him as a monster. But also offers the idea that sometimes a monster is needed “because what’s needed involves the willingness to exist in those gray spaces between right and wrong”.
The final story is also very revealing. It features the Psycho-Pirate and shows how he came to be involved with Darkseid. There are references to some landmark DC series in this story. Psycho-Pirate himself makes a connection to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. Not only that, but that series ended with Psycho-Pirate being the only character who remembered the Multiverse that existed before Crisis. This story takes that premise further by revealing that Roger Hayden remembers all the various reboots of the Multiverse/Omniverse in the various Crises since.
It also connects back to the “Second Crisis” that occurred in Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man. Psycho-Pirate was at the centre of that story, with his memories of the Multiverse somehow causing pre-Crisis characters to reappear in the main DCU. Morrison’s Animal Man was a metatextual examination of comics, which revealed the DCU as a world existing inside comics. It revealed that the underpinning of the Multiverse as a blank white expanse. Morrison further revealed this to be the blank white of the comic book page behind the comic panels.
In this story, Hayden reveals this infinite white expanse that underpins all reality to the readers. However, this time the panels pulls out to show the expanse is not in fact infinite. Instead, it exists as a circle in the middle of a black expanse. But the picture continues to pull out, revealing that the white circle is merely the period at the end of a two word sentence. Readers of Tom King’s Mister Miracle will immediately recognize this sentence: “Darkseid is”.
Darkseid tells Psycho-Pirate, “At the end of all things, there is despair. At the end of all things, there is the anti-life equation. At the end of all things…there is Darkseid”. This gives us an idea of the monumental threat posed by Darkseid. He doesn’t just represent the end of the world, of all life, or even the entire universe. He represents the end of existence itself.
Scott Snyder was continually raising the stakes through Dark Nights Metal and Dark Nights Death Metal and his Justice League run bridging them. This left me wondering how any subsequent writer could come up with a threat to top that. Williamson has managed to match Snyder by taking a different approach entirely. Instead of trying to outdo Snyder’s cosmological threat to reality, Williamson has opted to pose a metaphysical approach. Where Snyder created levels of reality above the Multiverse to pose a threat to it, Williamson has made Darkseid a threat to existence itself.
Essentially, Darkseid is the antithesis of existence. He no longer exists to rule everything, he exists to end it. He has become Anti-Life. Some theologians posit that “God is Being Itself”. This would essential mean Darkseid is now the antithesis of God Himself. I would say that Williamson has managed to raise the stakes even further than Snyder managed to.
On a lighter note, I have to praise the occasional bit of humour amongst the rather heady and complex storytelling. I was especially amused to see that the meeting table in Martian Manhunter’s “Psychic Safe Room” is a a giant Oreo cookie. Longtime readers will be sure to recognize this genius touch as a callback to J’onn’s cookie obsession in Keith Giffen’s Justice League title.
The only drawback is that these stories all leave me wanting more. But these stories were meant as teasers for the main story in Infinite Frontier. So, they were designed to hook the reader’s curiosity, not sate it. And they fill this purpose beautifully.
If you’re still suffering from event fatigue following Dark Nights Death Metal, then I urge you to at least give Infinite Frontier: Secret Files a readthrough. If that doesn’t get you eager for the Infinite Frontier series, then nothing will. This special has set the stage for a truly astounding event.