The Infinite Loop (2015)

Synopsis

A science-fiction series that asks the age-old question, “What would you risk for a chance at true love?” Meet Teddy, a young woman who lives in a faraway future where time traveling is a common practice and her job is to maintain the status quo by correcting time paradoxes. But when she meets Ano, “a time paradox” and the girl of her dreams, Teddy must decide between fixing the time stream or the love of her life, both of which have unique consequences.

From: IDW Publishing

Notes on This Title

This title briefly depicts the aftermath of a lynching.

A self-contained follow-up, The Infinite Loop: Nothing But the Truth was released in 2018.

Awards

2015 VLA Graphic Novel Diversity Award Honor

Reviews

Infinite Loop is a love story that is also a call to arms. The central conflict is less, “Will Teddy and Ano be able to stay together” and more, “Can Ano convince Teddy to fight for EVERYONE, not just herself and Ano?” The last issue has Teddy plummeting through time and space, past quotes from people like Harvey Milk, Susan B. Anthony, and Malcolm X.

At one point, a frazzled Teddy yells, “Shut up, Patrick Henry!” and I laughed so loud that people looked at me funny. This comic is not an example of using subtle metaphor to delicately introduce a point. It’s more like being smacked upside the head with a message that is in bold type and caps lock. But it’s a message that needs to get out there, and it’s a powerful and moving one, and so well told – the ending. Yes, this is message fiction, but it’s message fiction at it’s very finest. And it’s a love story between two women who love each other, trust each other, and help each other grow – what’s not to like?” (Source: Smart Bitches Trashy Books)

Interviews

Bleeding Cool: “IDW’s The Infinite Loop Dares You Not To Care – Talking With Elsa Charretier And Pierrick Colinet

Syfy Wire: “The Infinite Loop is the LGBTQ Time-Traveling Philosophical Adventure Comic You Need

1 thought on “The Infinite Loop”

  1. This was written by a man (the first-named creator above is the artist, not the writer), and boy does it show! From the moment the protagonist meets her love interest (and stops having to deal with the romantic advances of a male co-worker) she mostly reads like a straight guy with boobs stuck on, not like a woman who happens to be attracted to another woman. And her love interest acts like men wish women did. (I.e. she’s an exotic Manic Pixie Dream Girl who likes to get naked for no reason and immediately trusts a stranger completely, even though she knows that stranger might still decide to kill her. She initiates sex with her rescuer immediately after being out of mortal danger, after having only been alive for a day, and after before having any meaningful conversation with them – like the sex is a reward for the rescue, not something that believably is based on mutual emotional attraction. And later on, pretty much any conversation between the pair, no matter the mood, ends with the love interest getting horny and starting to seduce the protagonist. For some reason, she understands all the necessary social issues to make jokes about being “in the closet”, to judge the protagonist for hiding her “girlyness”, and to know why she’s in danger from an oppressive government agency, despite being newly created and having literally no personal history. And yet, after being so knowledgeable on her first day, she then reverts to being “cutely” clueless after a months-long time skip in the narrative, taking things she read too literally and conveniently NOT knowing everything she needs to know about herself, so that she comes across more helpless and childlike and the protagonist can have the pleasure of explaining it to her, while keeping her hands busy with stereotypical masculine activities like repairing her classic car or self-built house. As a result, Ano doesn’t feel like a person with realistic emotions of her own – more like a robot specifically programmed to act as a passive “prize” for the potagonist to rescue/claim like in the old male-ego-stroking myths about saving helpless maidens from monsters, and also like a pretty sex kitten fantasy for the protagonist to fall in “love” with at first sight, because her personality apparently doesn’t figure into this process, and who never really argues and is always kind and consoling and grateful for the attention the protagonist gives her. She’s basically Leeloo from “The Fifth Element” – minus the half-way realistic attempt at showing her learning curve, and minus the fighting skills to protect herself. And with a more childlike personality, when she finally develops something resembling one, so the “sex kitten” behaviour is even more disturbing. And it makes the protagonist hiding her away in her inaccessible “nest” for a year and becoming her only source of input of experiences and knowledge start to look more than a little like a grooming fantasy that’s been given the excuse by the writer that the girl really does have to be kept totally dependent and isolated for her own safety…)

    Also, the premise that the dystopian future society was built on is so obviously stupid and nonsensical that it immediately broke my suspension of disbelief. I can’t believe that anybody ever thought it was a good idea to begin with. This isn’t about the originators of the society being malicious or power-hungry – that would be believable. No, they actually thought that the solution to people getting murdered in punishment for loving the “wrong” person is getting rid of love; and not, you know, getting rid of “US vs. Them” thinking or at least training people to accept everyone in the in-group. (And that’s not even considering that getting rid of sexual / romantic love would involve huge changes to most peoples’ brain chemistry. And if they actually did that, the protagonist wouldn’t have been able to fall in “love” at first sight and her co-worker wouldn’t have a crush on her. You can’t suppress of hormonal infatuation via cultural indoctrination – and I do say this as an aromantic asexual person. Just like we’re not capable of experiencing romantic or sexual attraction no matter that our entire lives we’ve been told that we should, the reverse is also true. It’s biology, not culture. And anyone with half a brain cell can see that forcing the vast majority of the population to suppress their biological urges would lead to wide-spread suffering and social uprisings, not peace and safety. The reason this was tolerated by society for so long with regards to demanding that queer people do so, was that queer people are a MINORITY and therefore had little social power, and there wasn’t much in terms of empathy-inducing storytelling, so their suffering could be ignored by the straight majority. And before easy mobility and the resulting concentration of LGBTQ people in a few cities like New York and San Francisco, there just weren’t the numbers or the community-organizing communication necessary to stage the kind of protest that would be taken seriously by the majority, and that couldn’t be easily suppressed with violence. That’s what the annual Pride demonstrations are for: to remind us that we’re not alone, even though it may seem so in our small home town, and that there’s safety in numbers. And to remind straight society that there are too many of us to fight or ignore.)
    Half-way through the series the author then plagiarizes Orwell (the protagonist’s mother telling her to follow the rules “War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.”), which makes NO SENSE with what we’d been told about how this dystopian society works before that point. Besides, it ignores that in “1984,” those slogans were about showing how blatantly obvious government propaganda lies can be and how people are so acclimatized to the horror or so determined to uncritically root for their country that don’t even care anymore (e.g. like accepting euphemisms like “fake news” instead of calling it out as a lie; or “defense spending” when your country has unilaterally initiating wars of invasion for the last couple of generations, etc.). They were not meant as literal rules to live by. And as literal rules, they have nothing to do with the problems of the society in this comic as far as they had been shown to the reader. (There was no hint of militarism as part of their culture, nor any sign of anti-intellectualism before this scene – in fact, the protagonist couldn’t do her job if she didn’t have very detailed knowledge about history and nobody ever forbade her from learning from the different timezones she visits; and the whole point of the oft-cited term “infinite loop” is that freedom of choice is not physically possible according to this culture, so it makes no sense to demonize the word.) I can only conclude that ths was just meant as a cheap reference to show that it’s a dystopian society, because the writer apparently didn’t trust the reader to get that 50 pages earlier.
    And her little “nest” in the time warp where she hides everything she loves seems straight out of “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “Fahrenheit 451” or “Equilibrium” – but unlike in those dystopian stories, we’re never told WHY she hides these specific things (except for Ano). We’re never told that they’re forbidden in her own time period or anything like that – in fact, we don’t know if these are things she stole from other time periods (this actually seems unlikely and out-of-character for her rule-abiding characterization at the start of the story and because she offers to take a colleague to her nest someday) or if it’s all just stuff she bought to make the place comfortable, and she really just built that “nest” as a sort of weekend getaway where her bosses can’t reach her, so she can take a break from her insanity-inducing job.
    It’s like the author just put tropes from famous dystopian stories in a blender without any regard how and if they would make a cohesive whole, and without wanting the story to actually get “dark”, so he didn’t really show how the realistically ensuing mass-rebellion against this doomed-to-failure cultural experiment is suppressed (e.g. surveillance, mandatory drugs, widespread police violence, etc. – in this story, the controlling agency seems to have only 2 rather ineffectual enforcers in non-treatening Hawaian shirts, who the protagonist knocks out easily. Later on the boss lady finds 88 other guys who “agree” to fight for her – apparently loyalty oaths, chain of command and court matials are not a thing in this supposedly dystopian future – and one of the intended victims asks “How did she find so many people willing to hurt us?” The real question should be why the hell the government doesn’t have an army / militarized police to deal with social uprisings like this. It’s ridiculous to present “88 haters” like that’s not a laughably LOW number of loyal enforcers in a dystopian regime. How did this regime ever manage to come to power in the first place, especially on a premise that is so obviously inhumane as explained above??) This refusal to be realistic about the dystopian aspects and the general cozy “saturday moning cartoon” tone with regards to the danger the characters are in, is really really weird, in a comic that’s seems intended to motivate readers to stand up against oppression (You’re not doing anyone a favor by making it look like a walk in the park, dammit! That’s why young people don’t “get up from their sofas” and fight for the better future they claim to want, as the author complains in this comic – because no-one will teach them what it actually looks like to FIGHT and risk life and limb for your ideals.) and that’s only going to be seen by mature audiences anyway, because of all the naked boobs and swearing…

    And then there’s the glowing love-letter to Aung San Suu Kyi for “fighting” for democracy and human rights while under house arrest – a woman, who, ever since she was given actual power, has been busy providing a PR-smokescreen to the military regime she once oppposed and callously condoning the brutal ethnic cleansing of a religious minority from her country. (Look up the Rohingya – no, you won’t find much on this atrocity in mainstream media, since now the Burmese regime is trading its oil with the West, instead of with China as they did when the Western media were writing about how terrible the regime is for arresting Aung San Suu Kyi.) I guess the writer of this comic just couldn’t think of any better examples that he thought would appeal to a female audience? That tells me something about how little he actually knows about important women in resistance movements, and so he just picked a well-publicized figurehead who’s the darling of the Western elites and corporate media (who have their own power-preserving agenda and thus never talk about real revolutionaries). [And yes, her heartless disinterest in the violent oppression of the Muslim and Christian peasant minorities in majority-Buddhist Burma/Myanmar, and her complicity about this while making a power-sharing “deal” with the military regime was already clearly visible in 2013 and 2014, when this comic was written, for anyone willing to look beyond the maintream PR. https://theecologist.org/2013/oct/31/aung-san-suu-kyi-complicity-tyranny ; https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/11/an-open-letter-to-aung-san-suu-kyi/ ]

    And the protagonist has been travelling all over time and then a lynching in 1960s US makes her retch and lose faith in humanity? Seriously?! Thank God she didn’t decide to take a detour to the Vietnam War or the Korean War or the slave-breeding camps of the Antebellum South or any of the Indian Wars, or any other genocide or war… Yes, of course the mass-lynching raid was despicable and horrifying. But most of “civilized” human history was just like that and worse! Where and when has this time-travelling woman been spending her career so far that she’s still so naive that this level of violence would come as a nasty surprise to her? I actually burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of this scene (and the overdramatic body language that the artist used at this point that read like really badly over-acted shock in an old silent movie, falling over and all). Again, it may have been meant to make her relatable to young and politically uneducated American readers, but because this reaction makes no sense in context with this character, it breaks immersion and makes the author look like he has very little knowledge about real-world oppression and resistance struggles and the level of violence that was used by elites to maintain control.

    I’m somewhat confused as to why this comic got such glowing reviews. I mean, the writer’s heart is in the right place insofar as the LGBTQ-positive message of this comic goes. (Even if he did use the common scifi/fantasy lens of equating queer love with love of someone who is literally Other and not quite human, and the breach of social rules that they commit is a breach of rules that don’t exist the real world. Why not simply makee it an actual struggle against queer oppression in a scifi setting?! Well, at least he didn’t make the couple hetero, like most straight writers do when using this “methaphor”, and the fantastical Other in this case is not genuinely dangerous, so the people hunting her down don’t look like they actually have a legitimate reason for their fear and hatred (like with True Blood’s “God Hates Fangs” anti-vampirism).) But it really all is a nonsensical mess and the execution of the whole thing in terms of characterization and worldbuilding is just not that great… (Don’t even get me started on the timetravel technobabble that doesn’t even try to have internal logic, and the confusing non-linear narrative structure in the middle of the book. And I’m saying this as somebody who loves timetravel stories and who thought “Inception” was disappointingly simplistic after everyone told me it would be hard to follow.)

    Well, I guess back in 2015 the whole idea of having a comic primarily about LGBTQ issues and with lesbian protagonists (in a comic that wasn’t porn for straight men) was still so novel that anything positive would have been cheered, even if the writing leaves much to be desired. I’ve been reading my way through a couple dozen newer short comic series with queer protagonists lately (I’ve found that about half the non-tie-in indie comics published since 2018 have queer protagonists, even if they often don’t tell you in the publisher’s summary), and I suppose more genre variety, more discussion about the topic of representation, more publication of the works of female or openly queer authors, and more overall practice in the industry (writers do learn from each other, so even the straight guys can get better if they read what actual queer authors have written) eventually results in better characterization.

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