Outlast, the newest series from Image Comics isn’t your ordinary comic. No, it’s written by Robert Kirkman, the man behind Invincible and the series that never seems to end: The Walking Dead. What does this series have in store for us? Is it good?
Outcast #1 (Image Comics)
Somewhere in rural farm area of America, a young boy is possessed by a dangerous demon. Reverend Anderson is called in to deal with the situation, but he may have bitten off more than he can chew with this case. Also in town is a young, troubled man named Kyle Barnes who wants to isolate himself from everyone, despite the insistence of his sister. While the two are out, the Reverend sees Kyle and wants him to help him on this case. After all, he went through something similar long ago…
I think mommy is in a very cranky mood right now. Best to leave her alone.
Now this was a very clever move: Outcast #1 has over forty pages of story (for the convenient price of 3 bucks); with that much room to breathe the comic manages to deliver a stellar first issue that does just about everything right. The entire premise and setup for the series is laid out for us instead of dragging the story to egregious lengths or throughout story arcs like other series. It tells the origin of the main character so you have an understanding of who he is, why he acts the way he does, and where he’ll be going. Kirkman also sets up the supporting cast reasonably well and introduces several mysteries along the way.
The characters themselves are also especially good. After finishing the first issue, I really came away with a good grasp of their personalities and differences. Kyle is a decent main character who you can easily sympathize with and understand why he is the way he is. He comes off as a jerk at first, but it’s completely understandable considering what has happened to him. The others are good as well, really expanding on and making them feel human with the way they interact with each other and Kyle. You do come to understand why they act the way they do and makes you interested in what’ll happen to them as time goes on.
You may call her Megan, but I swear she is an older and more mature Kate Bishop.
Kirkman’s writing is genuinely good overall in Outcast. The pacing is well-orchestrated and allows for scenes to happen at the right speed. There are some sincere emotional moments that really have a lot of power and impact like when Kyle tries calling his ex-wife and daughter and Kirkman unveils it with aplomb. My only concern with the comic’s writing and story is that I hope Kirkman can keep the pacing doesn’t drag it out for longer than it needs to be, like what is happening with The Walking Dead.
Now Outcast is classified as a horror comic. Does it feel like horror? Nothing in the way that made me shiver or anything (Editor: Lies, JR.), but still reasonably good at doing its genre justice. The imagery is frankly creepy at times with what it depicts, punctuated with classic exorcism moments here and there. The mood is very good and there’s a real sense of creepiness and urgency during the quieter moments. It’s not overly violent about it either as other series might misuse. This is well-done horror, plain and simple.
And Paul Azaceta brings that horror to life with his artwork. In some ways, it reminds me of David Aja and Michael Walsh with the way things are laid out, how characters are drawn, and some of the minimalist style on display. On its own, it’s pretty good and I certainly like his work more than the other two I mentioned. The art also gives great sense of mood and tone, helped by the inking and coloring, and easily switches between normal and relaxed to abnormal and freaky. The characters are decent looking and I must say, it’s really nice to see creepy smiles from characters that are done on purpose instead of by accident. The layouts are good and easy to follow as well, though it is a bit troubling in the beginning because you are not sure who exactly you are following and what time the story is taking place (past, present?). Bottom line: Just a really damn good looking book that contributes so much to its genre.
Is It Good?
Outcast #1 is a fantastic start for what could be the next big horror comic. Just about everything here is fantastic and done so well that there’s no way I could possibly skip out what will happen next in the story. Great writing, great artwork, really well done horror, and lots of potential here. Definitely a comic you should be keeping your eyes on this week and highly recommended.