Riggs In Space: Outer Darkness #4 From Layman, Chan & Skybound

by Olly MacNamee

Captain Kirk never had to contend with his whole crew practically hating him. But then Kirk was never a foul-mouthed self-serving asshole like The Charon’s Captain Riggs. And, when one of those crew members used to be a god, I’d be treading more carefully. But then, does Riggs even know this, given he can’t even remember said crew member’s name? I doubt it.

The cover kinda gives away the character I’m referring to – Elox, the ship’s navigator – as we focus on him as the sole narrator of this particular chapter. He’s only thinking what others are, and one has to wonder how long will it be until Riggs has a mutiny on his hands. This issue already has other authoritative crew members dismissing his direct orders, even if it looks like Riggs may have been correct in those orders.

With John Layman’s habit for including Easter eggs (the Landua-class galactic service vessel is one such example) and a love for this sci-fi sub-genre, as well as a crew of diverse individuals that would even have the USS Enterprise blushing, the comic continues to grab my attention and interest. I want to know where it’s going to go next and what perils they will come across. Incorporating magic is a master stroke that opens up this spacefaring saga to countless possibilities, which already includes a space ship powered by a pagan deity and an onboard witch who’d not be out of place amongst Macbeth’s own weird sisters.

Afu Chan’s artwork and colouring is once again impressive. I’ve been battling to decide what it is that feels so unique about it but can only think of the bizarrest of analogies. So, here goes.

When I was a kid and bought The Twelve Tasks of Asterix book, it wasn’t a new Asterix book, but made up of prose and stills from the animated film. It’s the same aesthetics I’m getting from Chan’s art. The colouring only adds to this sense of an animated film, but on the page. Almost as though the whole comic was from another, more classic era, of sci-fi. After all, Layman admits that this is a comic that is his love letter to such shows as Star Trek, but with more visceral horror. Seems Chan is in-step with this aesthetic too.

Running to the aide of a space ship called Crom Cruach only implies further horror to come. Even Elox – revealed as a god that’s more than down on his luck if he’s onboard a ship where his superior officer can’t even remember his name – is one of those vengeful, sacrifice hungry gods. But, he’s gone from being worshiped by billions to barely being remembered by his boss. Where ever you turn, it would seem something wicked this was is always coming. And, that’s more than okay by me.

Outer Darkness #4 is out now from Image/Skybound.

Olly MacNamee

A unashamed DC Comics fan and sometime teacher for over 20 years! I got lucky and found the escape hatch. Now, I just read and write about comics all day long. Co-host of the ICE-Cast podcast and one third of the brains behind Birmingham's street art and graffiti festival High Vis Fest.

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