"Out There: Volume 1 – The Evil Within" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Originally published as Out There #1 - #6
Written by Brian Augustyn
Illustrated by Humberto Ramos
2001, 164 Pages
Trade paperback released on March 23rd, 2016
On the surface, El Dorado City is the perfect town (it's really not large enough to be considered a city). The streets are safe. Crime is non-existent. Businesses are thriving. You'd think that everyone had their act together, right? They do...sort of. Things got this way because the heads of the town made a deal with a demon named Draedalus. In exchange for the town's safety, they'll open up a door to our world, allowing Draedalus and his minions to come in and conquer the world. Now it's up to four angst-ridden teenagers to put a stop to this evil all before their curfew.
Out There checks off almost all the boxes in high school stereotype bingo. Jess is the weird one. Wexler is the geek. Zach is the jock. Casey is the preppy pretty girl. We're just missing an outlaw and we've got the Breakfast Club. The relationships between them also fill your stereotypical high school interactions. Wexler is picked on by some jock bullies, while Jess is made fun of by the popular girls. These barriers are eventually broken down when the four of them realize they can see the demons trying to break into our world.
Although the kids are fighting to save everyone, it doesn't change the fact that they're teenagers, and by default, that means they're annoying. At least in their case, they have a good reason not to trust authority. There's such an emphasis on being cool and popular that when the four of them are seen together at school, everyone freaks out. You'd think they all walked in wearing blackface.
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The minions of Draedalus are small and creepy. They remind me a bit of the creatures generated by Jackie Estacado in The Darkness, imp-like and filled with mischief, or even like Gremlins. They are invisible to all but a few people, but they can't interact with anyone without possessing them, which is a pretty vile process. These things literally jump down someone's throat and forcibly ride them like a puppet. This changes a person though. Dark spots appear on their head. Their hands turn into claws. They're far more menacing in groups.
Draedalus on the other hand doesn't look all that scary. He's like a cross between Darkseid and Baymax from Big Hero 6. Sure, he's large and grumpy, but you could just give him a big hug and probably calm him down.
The townspeople in on the Draedalus deal don't see anything wrong with their actions. This is what makes Out There so chilling. They're willing to sacrifice the entire world around them for their little town. Early on, the sheriff lets loose a horde of the minions to kill a few drug dealers coming into the area. Of course, you don't think that a deal with a demon is going to go as planned, do you?
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This is where things get complicated in Out There. A number of different plot threads pop up that seem somewhat intertwined, but not clearly. There's a mysterious female priest and her golem-like worker on the edge of town, along with a billionaire software mogul that rolls in out of nowhere, and each of the four main teenagers gets some sort of magic power that allows them to combat and see the demons. The priest is the thing that seems the most off. She has this ominous tone about her, so it's no wonder that no one attends her church.
Out There: Volume 1 has its stumbling moments, but it comes together in the end with a solid cliffhanger that will make you want to check out the next book. If you can get through all that teenage angst, there's a story here about good intentions gone horribly wrong.