The Infected: Scarab #1 – Dennis Hopeless Hallum, Writer; Freddie Williams III, Artist; Jeremy Colwell, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: There are a lot of similarities between The Infected: Scarab #1 and the King Shazam one from the start of the month, in that they’re both stories focusing on teenagers who become corrupted by the Batman who Laughs and turn on their friends and family.
The difference is, we’re not picking up with Jaime Reyes’ story once he’s already as corrupted as Billy Batson. We see his transformation in The Infected: Scarab #1 from the beginning, from his perspective, and it’s creepy and disturbing as all get-out. That’s both a good and bad thing, because this isn’t a property that should be creepy and disturbing. It’s one that provided some of the DCU’s most entertaining, funny, and diverse stories in the last ten years. This is not that story, and it makes it very clear with a nightmarish dream segment that finds Jaime being stalked and tortured by the twisted Bat as a voice in his head urges him to finally cut loose. When he wakes up, the nightmare’s just beginning as he starts succumbing to temptation.
It seems like the first stage of transformation, at least for teen heroes, is to start acting like a cliched 1950s bad boy.
Jaime cuts school, throws his books at the car of an elderly teacher, and insults his friends Brenda and Paco. Those supporting cast members are what really makes this issue work, as their pursuit of Jaime and attempt to help him as he sinks further and further into corruption and his outsides start to match his inner corruption is the strongest part of the issue.
Despite the pace of the story being chaotic and introducing an unfortunate third-tier villain named Ghostfire to be Scarab’s designated victim, it has enough quiet moments and strong dialogue to work. The real star of this issue is Freddie Williams’ art, as he takes a break from his usual light-hearted superhero work to do some disturbing body horror and nightmare segments towards the end. I wish this wasn’t the first major story we’ve seen Jaime in in years, but it’s definitely the strongest of the Infected issues. I hope it’s the start of more Jaime Reyes storys by this creative team without him as a bug monster.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.