In Review: Outer Darkness #9

This series is the greatest horror-science fiction comic ever created.

The cover: The Charon speeds forward through space. Accompanying it are several ancient blades and knives ready to kill or maim any who get too close to the vessel. This is an exceptional cover by Afu Chan that teases what happens in this issue. The detail and variety of the blades are enough to cause even the casual reader to pause and take in their shapes and design. Because of this, they would fall prey to what the weapons can do. Coloring the weapons orange increases their danger. This is perfect. Overall grade: A+

The story: Three weeks ago on the Galactic Science vessel Ouroboros, a series of vines begin to dramatically grow near a group of scientists in the botanical dome. One of the scientists turns around a picks up a pair of large garden shears. He calmly takes the shears, turns around, and stabs one of his peers through the back of his throat. He then takes the tool and uses them to cut off the head of another scientist. He runs out of the enclosure with his newfound weapon. He spies another crew member using an axe to split the head of a co-worker. The two look upon one another, blood coming out of their black eyes and snarling mouths, and race at each other with their weapons. The next three pages go to action that occurred last night on the Charon. One crew member looks to be torturing another, but is actually laying out plans to kill Captain Rigg. John Layman twists this long gestating plot by having another member of the crew appear and voice her opinion about killing the captain. This is going to be ugly when it goes down, and you know it will soon. The ship comes upon the Ouroboros with no life signs emanating from it. Naturally they have to investigate and things go wrong quickly. I love the reason why crew members go mad and the chaos that erupts is exciting and terrifying. An action on 17 is surprising and what happens afterwards is awesome. The last two pages of the issue have me incredibly pumped to see what’s going to happen next. This is scary, exciting, and bad ass. Overall grade: A+ 

The art and colors: One reason I love science fiction comics is seeing aliens and ships I’ve not imagined. Afu Chan’s designs for both of these elements is superb. The Ouroboros looks like a beacon of hope drifting above an alien world. Its interiors are filled with plant life that’s thriving. Jensen is a neat looking character before he begins to start knocking off his peers, but when he goes psycho he’s an absolute horror. The violence on Page 3 is shocking but absolutely necessary to reinforce to the reader how horrible his turn is. The encounter on the next page is wonderfully horrific. The action occurring on the fifth page is ghastly, but is followed by an even more disturbing panel showing how the victim takes such brutality. I love that red is used for this individual’s dialogue balloons to cement how far from humanity he/it is. The reveal at the bottom of the next page is fantastic, with the silhouette that precedes it funny. Seeing the Charon next to the Ouroboros is a sensational way to remind the reader how massive the ship is. The reaction from the character at the end of 9 is brilliant. The oranges that cast over the characters on the next page makes the information that only they can see ominous. The full-paged splash on 12 is a great way to return to the first setting from the opening of this issue, show what’s happened since the first four pages, and how the crew reacts to what they’ve found. Also having the Charon dominate the sky is cool. The change on 14 is killer; I love how no character’s face is clearly seen in the second and third panels, making the action in the fourth an excellent shock. The faces in the fourth panel on 15 demonstrate that this isn’t the first rodeo for these characters. The actions on 17 had me on the edge of my seat. The emotions on the next page are killer, and the first panel on 18 is great. Chan makes that panel blurry to solidify in the reader’s mind that it’s from a particular point of view. The resolve that ends this issue is killer. That sums up Chan’s visuals: killer. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Pat Brosseau creates the issue’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, a possessed character’s speech, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings are slightly stretched out, making them look futuristic yet reminiscent of classic sci-fi book covers from the twenties and thirties. The dialogue is easy to read, with words italicized to show emphasis in character’s speech. The sounds on this book are showstoppers, with SPLUTCH, SCRIPPPP, SHIK, and FWABWAMM incredible. I also am in love with the yells, with Page 4 having a pair of killer exclamations. The possessed character’s dialogue has him/it looking as if every word is blasphemous. The tease for next issue is done in a futuristic computer text to close the book in the appropriate setting. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This series is the greatest horror-science fiction comic ever created. I cannot get enough of this book. The story is creepy, the characters wonderful, and the visuals killer. You can jump in with this issue and be caught up in all the terror and treachery from a galaxy that’s hopefully really damn far away. 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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