"Outer Darkness #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics / Skybound Entertainment
Written by John Layman
Illustrated by Afu Chan
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on November 7th, 2018
The 1979 film Alien and its sequel, Aliens, inspired a whole generation of creators that loved horror and science fiction and wanted to see those two great genres merged together. Outer Darkness is the latest to play in this mash-up space, following Joshua Rigg, a washed-up captain who's given one more chance to travel the stars, dealing with the bizarre cosmic horror that awaits.
It's made clear that the supernatural is known and part of everyday life in Outer Darkness. This is shown in the opening scene where artist Afu Chan creates a stunning double-page spread with a ship traveling through space surrounding by spectral monsters. These things are absolutely terrifying, made of claws, tentacles, and so many teeth. They glow with an eerie blue, making them appear like ghosts, hovering through the asteroids like frightening warnings of what else lurks out in the stars.
|Click images to enlarge|
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The ship that Rigg picks up is powered by a god engine. There's a literal deity powering this spaceship and it only moves when it receives some sacrifices in the most brutal way possible. Letterer Pat Brosseau uses this massive and rough font for the god, giving you an immediate understanding of this thing's strength, even though it's been humbled in its current position.
Ghosts and demons are part of the risk with this kind of space travel, so there's a team of exorcists on board. These kinds of details are brilliant and really set Outer Darkness apart from the sci-fi / horror stories that have come before it. This is uncharted territory.
That might have been enough for Outer Darkness to be an enjoyable and interesting read. Writer John Layman adds some great character work with Rigg. You instantly identify with him. Plus, you can't help but love his attitude. He's good and he knows it, but he's got a chip on his shoulder. There's a terrific scene where he storms up to the first officer of his new ship and makes some demands. Since this guy doesn't know who Rigg is, he gives him some lip and quickly regrets it. That's your new boss, buddy.
|Click image to enlarge|
Chan uses a healthy mix of color throughout this issue. The bright possibilities of science-fiction are there, but they're somewhat muted. This allows the darker tones of the supernatural elements to seep in and infect the overall tone of the book. Terror is never that far away and there's always something evil ready to kill you in this world.
I feel like most sci-fi / horror stories tend to lean more on the sci-fi side than the spooky stuff. Outer Darkness is right in the middle, if not leaning more towards horror. There are constant reminders that we're dealing with horrifying things, plus these characters are doing it while rocketing through the far reaches of space. This debut issue lays the ground work for a slew of possibilities and many of them are dark. It's like a pilot to your next favorite TV show.