John Layman doesn’t slouch when it comes to comics. Chew exhibited an immense, zany ambition that never slowed down. The same principle goes for Outer Darkness, but that’s led to a still entertaining yet crowded creation.
The crew have crashed on an ice planet–and everything is going to hell in a hand-basket. Now revealed as an evil entity, Sato Shin, who is goring crew members–although, wait. Now there’s another monster on the loose! Take into account a painfully predictable twist at the end and crew tensions, and you’ve got yourself a crammed issue.
In the midst of all these subplots, I’m reminded of what made me enjoy the first few issues so much: its straight-forward nature. By blending every scifi and horror under the sun, Layman spun these inspirations into tight storytelling with plenty of conflict and imagination. I’m not trying to say this series shouldn’t evolve, but the last few issues have focused more on gimmicks than even its main characters. The series has already started to mimic the downward spiral of Orange is the New Black.
Granted, Outer Darkness still gets points for Afu Chan’s precise, cinematic artwork. There’s still an undeniably fun element to math magicians fighting back demonic dinosaurs. Best of all is a moment that implies the crew’s actions have far-reaching consequences. And it’s very possible the series can turn around in the very next issue. However, at the moment, Outer Darkness has reached for the stars but grabbed too many moonrocks.