Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Infinite Loop 6, originally released September 30th, 2015.
“They’ll put a gun into your hand and call you weak until you’re violent
Don’t believe it
They’re hateful because they’re empty
We’ve got a chance to break the cycle
We could be the heroes that we always said we’d be.”
“I Wanted So Badly To Be Brave,” The Wonder Years
Spencer: The first time I listened to that song I cried, and while it still gets me more than a bit emotional, it also lights a fire within me. Yeah I wanna break the cycle — of course I wanna be a hero! Sign me up! It’s a call to action, and an incredibly effective one; so is The Infinite Loop. While Pierrick Colinet and Elsa Charretier’s mini-series is ostensibly a sci-fi action/romance story — and a rather fine one at that — at its core it exists to preach a message, spark a movement, incite readers to action. If there exists a more thorough call to action than The Infinite Loop 6, I don’t think I want to see it.
The cover sets the tone before the story even begins, showing us a fierce Teddy raging against infinity itself, ready to fight for what she believes in.
Then the first page opens the issue with, not plot or character, but a full-page hashtag: #BREAKTHELOOP. A hashtag is a way to promote a message, a way to unite people around a shared idea, and it feels like a statement of purpose from Colinet and Charretier: The Infinite Loop has an important message to preach, and they want it to spread to as many people as possible.
That message has always been a cry for LGBT rights and equality, and as always, that message is masterfully embodied in the story of Teddy and Ano. Faced with Tina and the rest of the Agency’s erasers storming the anomalies’ safehouse, Teddy again tries to run. Ano isn’t having it.
There’s no way I could possibly sum up this book’s mission statement better than Ano does here. Colinet and Charretier are calling for absolute equality. It’s not enough to just survive and blend in, it’s not enough to just be granted civil unions or domestic partnerships, it’s not right to have to live life by a different set of rules.
Moreover, by trying to run away, Teddy is forgetting about all the other anomalies that are also in danger. Later in the issue, when Teddy is falling backwards through time, she witnesses a speech by gay icon Harvey Milk, who proclaims that “coming out is the most political thing you can do.” He claims that coming out is necessary to educate straight people, dispel false information, and help them make decisions that will benefit the LGBT causes in the long run. It’s the same with Teddy — her taking action is necessary to make a better world for hundreds of anomalies in a similar situation as her, and even her inaction, as benign as it may seem, would be condemning them.
(I will mention that I can’t fully support Milk’s point of view — there are a lot of situations where staying closeted is necessary, especially outside the U.S. where being gay can be a death sentence — but I do understand the sentiment. If nobody ever put their life on the line progress would never happen; I just acknowledge that that kind of courage just isn’t possible for everyone).
So Teddy’s only choice is to try to “break the infinite loop,” somehow breaking and resetting time to create a situation where she and Ano fought back against the Agency from the very start. I won’t pretend to understand the mechanics behind how Teddy actually pulls this off, but I’d also argue that they’re not important; like everything else in this title, it’s all a metaphor. The important thing is that Teddy took action, and this provides a blueprint for us all as well: take action, and don’t delay. Moreover, the way Teddy breaks the very world itself also shows the level of action that may be required; making a better, more equal world means shattering the status quo, no matter how impossible that may seem.
Speaking of methods, there’s also the example of Ulysses to consider.
When Ulysses seemingly abandons the group, Teddy essentially writes off every non-anomaly as incapable of understanding/helping her. That’s understandable: even in real life, there’s a lot of backlash against the idea of “allies,” and it’s not without reason, as more than a few turn out just to be looking to be praised and recognized for practicing basic human decency. Yet, Ulysses eventually returns with needed reinforcements, and by the end of the issue, Teddy recognizes what those who aren’t victims of the infinite loop have to offer, and that victory can only be achieved by fighting together. There’s strength in numbers.
The “Guardian of Forever,” though, injects a dose of harsh reality when it points out that the infinite loop may yet return. It’s an apt reminder that hatred and discrimination are practically immortal; as soon as one minority starts gaining acceptance, bigots find another to target. The fight for equality requires constant vigilance, but that doesn’t mean it’s pointless. Every small victory is still a victory, and is worth celebrating. Hell, sometimes just the act of fighting back is a victory in and of itself.
Patrick, it’s hard to read this book and not feel a fire of righteous fury ignite in my chest. Were you as affected by this call to action as I was? And do you have any thoughts on any of the details I neglected by only focusing on the broad themes — be it dialogue, dinosaurs, Charretier’s art, or even Andromeda’s slightly anachronistic pop culture references?
Patrick: I’m more concerned with Andromeda thinking that “it’s like having to chose between Justin Bieber and Kanye West” expresses any kind of tough choice. Like: huh? Sure, they’re both ego-driven weirdos with high profiles on TMZ, but Kanye is a legitimate pop artist. It’s like Andromeda picked two names out at random and decided to put them into a punchline – you know, like a Family Guy joke.
Spencer, I would like to talk a little bit about that righteous fury in your chest. I would agree that this series — and in particular, this issue — points to idea that do genuinely make me angry, and those causes make me want to take action. Colinet plays some big cards in the lead-up to Universal-Reboot – Harvey Milk, Susan B. Anthony and Malcom X. I’m obviously not against the idea of using someone else’s words to emphasize a point (we do it all the time in the introductions to these pieces), but the inclusion of these three civil rights leaders feels like The Infinite Loop at its most transparent, and almost at it’s most childish.
I’ve mentioned a couple times in our conversations about this series that the messaging is so blunt because it is a message that cannot afford to be misconstrued. In taking the personal message and insisting that it be a political message, Colinet and Charretier make their work immediately more challenging. I’m a liberal guy – I’m bisexual, my little sister is gay, I believe in equality for everyone, I believe in a woman’s right to control her body and in her right to access reproductive health. I believe black lives matter. I believe there’s a problem in this country with privilege and institutionalized racism and sexism. But, (ah, the “but!”) I very seldom take any visible action asserting those beliefs. Y’know, as a modest Midwestern kid, it was ingrained in me never to be overt or flashy about anything, let alone political beliefs. That means I’ve never actively protested anything, I don’t offer my political opinion unsolicited, and I don’t change my Facebook profile picture to show that I’m excited about marriage equality (I am) and that I support planned parenthood (I do).
In other words, the invocation of Harvey Milk, Susan B. Anthony and Malcom X is targeted at me and other non-vocal Allies. These are issues that those suffering from them have the luxury of ignoring, or even in engaging in passively. The hashtag isn’t #JustIgnoreTheLoopAndItllGoAwayOnItsOwn, it’s #BreakTheLoop.
But anyway, this isn’t about my hang-ups expressing my political beliefs in a public forum, it’s about one hell of an effective comic. Charretier has such an amazing shorthand for opportunity in the form of those yellow portals and ribbons, it’s no wonder that every page is crawling with them.When Ulysses pops back into the fray and brings a sky full of those portals, it’s a fist-pumpingly awesome moment.
I also love how Teddy’s purple pathways with the blue grid pattern start to overtake these more chaotic yellow ribbons. As she layers various realities on top of each other, those fatter, purple tubes occupy more and more of the page real estate. And naturally, it all concludes with a reboot of the universe, which looks like any reboot – a blue screen with a stern warning not to fuck it up this time.
So maybe that should be the takeaway: there is no next time in life, only in stories and computers. Hiding doesn’t accomplish anything, we need to be fighting from the jump. Maybe that’s a bit pedantic, but, hey: some messages are worth shouting, right?
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?