Outer Darkness #3 comes out this week from the team of John Layman, Afu Chan and Pat Brosseau, continuing the dark misadventures of living ship, The Charon, and its crew.
Already established as Layman’s twisted take on such fare as Star Trek, Babylon 5 and others, Outer Darkness #3 leads with the death of two characters and the class-room classic announcement, by the dead narrator, that they are now dead. But, of course, this is Layman we’re talking about and not some high-schooler writing a poorly planned story.
With a clever use of non-linear narrative we are then transported through space and time to the bridge of The Charon two hours earlier to learn how these hapless souls ended up on this dead-end planet and pushing up daisies. And that’s about all I can say without giving too much away of this month’s installment. You’ll have to go buy a copy to see how the story unfolds from there.
But, I will say this: it continues to be one of the better sci-fi comics out there today as Afu Chan creates and sustain a sense of darkness with his mued colours and darkened interiors that helps ramp up the sense of danger. The Manga-esque sensibilities he brings to some of his art and song character designs – whether that be his exotic looking aliens, or the more human cast members – is an appropriate choice for such as book too, and works well, even when introducing some of the more supernatural elements and characters in this book. A darker Studio Ghibli-like film is what it reminds me of the most, one where anything is possible, and usually is. His representation of space travel is a marvel too, with a profusion of colourful speediness added to great, albeit trippy, effect. His adherence to widescreen panels also helps lift this story and give it more of a cinematic scope that better sets the scene, wherever that may be.
All the while we have a captain who is more than happy to bend the rules to the point of them breaking in order to chase the chance of gaining an illicit fortune along the way. Hardly the most morally-grounded person to be captaining a ship. But, I imagine he’s not the only bad egg on this mission through space. Although, he comes across as more Jessie Pinkman than Captain Picard in his dealings this issue.
With the promise of more revelations about the crew members next issue – well, one in particular – Outer Darkness continues to stand proud of its heritage, while also building on the horror and the dark mysteries to be found in space where no-one can hear you scream, but they can certainly watch you die.
Outer Darkness #3 is out from Skybound/Image Comics January 9th.