In Review: Outer Darkness #1

This is the space horror I've been waiting for someone to do for years.

The cover: In the foreground is a bust shot of Captain Joshua Jerome Rigg, captain of the Charon. Behind him are ten members of his crew looking to the left or right. Behind all is the Charon, blazing forward. All are contained within the gigantic maw of some multi-eyed otherworldly horror, streaking through space. This cover by Afu Chan perfectly summarizes what the reader is in store for with this book: a crew of a starship encountering unspeakable horrors. Overall grade: A

The story: Looking upon a holographic display of the vastness of space, First Officer Josh Rigg says, “There. You’re out there, aren’t you, Rochelle? Right about…there.” His thoughts are interrupted by the bridge, who orders he appear “…and make it snappy..” The ship is then shown making its way through space transporting an asteroid, but its path is blocked by several monstrous spider shaped creatures with human heads in various distress. On the bridge, Rigg learns from Agwe that they’ve entered an unmapped necro-storm. Shipman Marshall couldn’t deliver this information because “spirits took him. Had to put him down ‘fore could make any more trouble.” Not helping is Shipman Greenlaw revealing she’s possessed. Rigg has only one option to save the remaining crew, but one person doesn’t want him to take any action. This situation’s resolution is left unseen, with writer John Layman moving to three weeks later aboard the space station Hirakuka in the Epsilon Eridani System. The conversation between the pair of characters on 8 is realistic and with the entrance of a new character on 9 things take a turn. These moments are very familiar to me, being a tremendous Star Trek fan. Rigg is a captain who wants to be successful with his mission while keeping his crew alive. The problem is that there are supernatural horrors in space. Technology is seemingly no match for such creatures. There are subtle inclusions of ways the crew stays alive (holy water, exorcists, etc.), but I’m dying to see how they will take down these monsters. This issue focuses on Rigg getting command of the Charon, why he wants to command it, and several of his crew members. There’s one that absolutely stole all my attention, and this individual appears on Page 20. I’ve never encountered anything like this in a comic book or novel, and I’ve read a lot of them. Page 24 is sick, deviant, and perfectly natural in this terrible world created by Layman. This page is enough to keep me on board with these characters and their exploits for the long haul. Wow. Overall grade: A+

The art and the colors: Afu Chan handles all aspects of the visuals and they are deceptively killer. Chan’s style is a little cartoonish and it beautifully lured me into a calm state for the start of this book. The opening page shows the holograms Rigg is looking at, with the character’s back to reader. The second and third pages are a double-paged splash that shows Rigg’s ship transporting an asteroid, butt he vessel is surrounded by several spider-like horrors that appear to be ripped from a Japanese horror comic. Each of the creatures carries an asteroid of their own. When on the bridge, it’s similar in its layout to one used on Star Trek, with the warning of red alert bathing everything in crimson. The screen shows several demon/fish-like monsters attacking. When Marshall is shown on the floor his eyes have rolled back, his teeth are clenched, there’s some foam on his mouth, and his skin is covered in blood veins. Greenlaw is covered in sweat, foreshadowing a demonic reveal. How this shipman is dealt with is startling, but appropriate. The new character that arrives on the scene has got the perfect design and his visual actions are spot on. The design of space station Hirasuka teases what faction rules Earth. The setting that’s shown is perfect for a space station and Page 8 is a series of five horizontal panels that contain some great visual action. The character that arrives on 9 looks great. The double-paged splash of 12 and 13 reveals the Charon and shows that transporters are not going to part of this universe. On board the ship several new characters are introduced and I was glad to see that they all weren’t human. I love the design of Satalis and Hydzek and hope to see more of them. The character revealed on 20 is awesome and, again, I hope to see more. I really like how greens were used on this page for the character and the dialogue balloons. The large panel on 24 is a visual horror and I love it. I’m so onboard with the look of this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Pat Brosseau creates this issue’s dialogue, sounds, scene settings, and the unique dialogue for the characters on 20 and 22. I like that when the characters had emphasis in their dialogue, Brosseau got to italicize or bold their speech so the reader could better hear it. I like the unique font for the scene settings and the sounds match the horrors that spew them. The dialogue for the character on 20 is one hundred percent appropriate and added immensely to its persona. The same can be said of the brief appearance of the character on 22. I’m liking what Brosseau has done. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I picked this up because it was the first issue of an outer space series. I had no idea what I was getting into. This is the space horror I’ve been waiting for someone to do for years: a fully realized star fleet that has to deal with the supernatural terrors that exist in the darkness of space. The characters are cool, the visuals outstanding, and the threats monstrously evil. This nightmare is a dream come true for fans of sci-fi and horror. Buckle up, folks, because this won’t be your average space trek. Absolutely recommended! Overall grade: A+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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