Off the Shelf — Outcast Volume 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him

Outcast CoverNutshell: If you think Robert Kirkman does a great job with characters and storytelling in The Walking Dead, Outcast will top those expectations.  Perhaps a little bit too much string spooled out in the telling, but that could be because I’m dying to know more about Kyle and his…gift.  Atmospheric art and muted but effective colors round out an excellent start to a new horror series. A-

Story:  Kyle Barnes has been dealing with demons his whole life.  No, I mean literal demons.  Demons that take those he loves and destroys them, or the life he’s made with them.  No wonder Kyle’s a loner now.  But as he begins to come out of his shell with the help of his sister Megan and the Reverend Anderson, a man in a dark fedora comes into town.  (You never can trust a fedora. I often wear one, so I know this is true.)  After a few chance encounters show that demons may be burrowing into the possessed so deeply that exorcisms no longer work, Kyle’s determined to figure out what’s going on, and why he seems to have a kind of power over the possessed.  But it seems the forces of evil aren’t keen on Kyle making that discovery.

Thoughts: ALF POSTER SIGHTING ON PAGE 11 — THIS IS NOT A DRILL Y’ALL.

Ahem.

What I meant to say was that Outcast has a creepy opening premise that just keeps getting creepier.  Kirkman does a bang-up job of getting readers to care about his characters, even if those characters are…shall we say…only there for a cameo appearance.

I found myself hanging on each page, sucked in.  Nice trick, Kirkman.  Outcast feels more compelling than The Walking Dead; don’t know if that’s because I’m comfortable in Rick Grimes’ world now, or if Kirkman is honing his craft.  Perhaps a little of both.

Azaceta’s page/panel layouts are fantastic.  Example?  Page 70: a half-page with what’s going on…and then a mini-panel layered on to show you what’s really going on, by a single facial feature.  Brilliant.  Azaceta knows how to get the best out of a reader’s imagination by showing just enough, and often by showing only hints and letting your own imagination fill in the bloody blanks.  His use of shadows and light, along with Elizabeth Breitweiser’s muted colors, set the stage nicely.  Or hauntingly, as you prefer.

Best Lines:
“A child will spend five minutes telling you what every illegible scribble they’ve drawn actually is.  And then they still believe you when you tell them what a good artist they are.  We want to trust.”

“You know my name.  Well…at least a few of them.  I have SO MANY.”

Subscribe or Shelve: If you can stand the long-game storytelling — and something tells me you should try to here — definitely give it this a try.

Publication 411: Collects Outcast #1-6. Hit shelves February 10, 2015.

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