In Review: Outer Darkness #6

I love the horror and unpredictability of this series.

The cover: Captain Joshua Rigg walks forward, his gun held up in his right hand and his helmet held in his left. Behind him is Malachi Reno, Agwe, and Elox. The four make their way forward in the snow as the Charon burns the ground behind them. These characters are on their way to encounter something horrible, a tease of which is above the mountains behind them. Stellar cover from interior artist and colorist Afu Chan that shows the reader exactly where this story is going without spoiling anything. Fantastic! Plus, this cover connects to last issue’s cover, creating an image of the characters walking away from their downed ship. Overall grade: A+

The story: The Charon‘s wreck is being cleaned of possible demonic infestation by several of its crew members including the four featured on the cover. Turning a corner they come across a splatter of blood on the floor that shows something has been dragged around a corner. Proceeding further they come upon Private Morris, or at least the top half of his head, from the upper jaw up. They then hear some thumping. They come across the Crone’s cat which hisses at them. Rigg opens fire with his rifle, swearing at the creature as it takes off. He’s hated that familiar since first seeing it and he tells Agwe that he’s going to toss it out of an airlock if they ever get back in space. He continues to search for the elusive demon, but receives some troubling information from Prakash. She relays some details about Sato Shin who was involved with the shocking conclusion of last issue. Writer John Layman has Shin really go over to the dark side, but then returns to Rigg and his crew who find the demon and take action. The way the creature is fought on 11 – 13 is jaw-dropping. The action taken at the bottom of 14 is a tease that there will be more involving that character soon. There’s a reveal on 15 that calls back to the beginning of Issue #5 that explains much, while showing how cold-hearted Rigg is. There’s another great reveal on 16 that leads to one heck of a sick twist on 17 and 18. Now here’s one thing I’m really loving about what Layman is doing with this series: just as you think the issue’s story has concluded, he throws a curve in at the end that will make you sit up in shock and leave one wondering for thirty days how this new problem can possibly be resolved. I love the horror and unpredictability of this series. Overall grade: A+

The art and colors: I also love the visuals by Afu Chan on this title. I like how the first panel of the book shows the characters from their backs as they make their way into the darkness of the ship. The coloring of their lights shows how bright their beams are, but also the limits of their reach. Elox is a standout for just being there with his gun up as the others are all in environ-suits. The first four panels show some solid movement for the characters leading to the shocking smack of blood on the floor. The reveal of Morris’s head is a shocker for how it looks and that Chan pulled in to what remains of the dead man. The reveal of the cat on Page 4 makes it sympathetic, but the close-up that follows makes it an absolute beast. The full-paged splash on 6 is a punch to the face as it shows how far a character has fallen. I like the jagged line that separates Rigg and Prakash; it’s a cool visual to divide the characters, but it also is a harsh visual that provides a transition between the violent panels. I really like how Rigg is angered by the demon’s speech, rather than being scared — makes him a much tougher character. The conjurings of the exorcists on 10 look terrific in their design and colors. Everything on 11 is fantastic, with the creature monstrous, the colors creepy, and the final two panels a gut punch. The actions on 12 and 13 are awesome, with colors increasing their power. The final three panels on 15, when combined with the text, are a slap to the face and their black and white colors make them dated, even though they occur in the future. The large panel on 18 is a WOW! moment, with the point of view and the action making the victim of the action very sympathetic. I love the glow of orange in the far left in the final panel on the penultimate page, reminding the reader who’s just outside their vision. The coloring of the changed character and the coloring of this individual’s dialogue balloons is simply spectacular. The smile in the third panel on the last page is killer and the close-up on the last speaker is to die for! Chan is an illustrating god! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Pat Brosseau is the creator behind the issue’s scene settings, dialogue and transmissions (the same font), sounds, demon speech, exorcism spells, exorcism incantations, and a character’s new form of dialogue. The scene settings are cool for being in an elongated font that makes them look like they’ve come from a classic science fiction tale. I do wish the dialogue and transmissions had been their own unique fonts, rather that differentiated by the shape of their balloons. The sounds are creepy and frightening, as is the demon speech. The exorcism spells are the highlight of the book as they dominate the backgrounds as the casters attempt to thwart the demon. The book ends with a character’s new form of speech, which matches this individual’s new look. Overall grade: A

The final line: Two horrors are solved, though one is twisted into further, future terrors. The story is frightening and exciting, making me turn pages at a hellish pace. The visuals are incredible, creating futuristic forays into space and unnatural creatures whose existence are unholy blasphemes. This is one of the best books, the best series, currently being published. Highest possible recommendation! 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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