Mysteries In Space: Outer Darkness #5 By Layman And Chu Reviewed

by Oliver MacNamee

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Outer Darkness’ Captain Riggs of The Charon is a very far cry from any Star Fleet captain, and by issue #5 – out this week from Skybound/Image – he seems to have most of the crew baying for his blood, having spent the first four issues of this sci-fi/horror comic annoying everyone he comes into contact with. But, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. No, as this issue will attest, there are others who are far, far worse as we kick off the two-part conclusion to this first story-arc and witness the development of the machinations of Sato Shin we saw revealed last issue.

It’s an issue that revels in the more horrific aspects of long distance space travel as the opening few pages attest, although, upon witnessing a rather savage scene that would even make Alien director Ridley Scott blush, I was surprised to see this prologue event took place 125 years into the future! How this is related to the story unravelling across the rest of the comic is anyone’s guess, but it’s a great hook and you’ll be dying to know more, I’m sure. The plot thickens and the mysteries are beginning to pile up. All indicators that we’re in for a bumpy ride for the foreseeable future. 

Add into this The Charon purposefully crashing on an icy planet, scattering dead, dying and survivors, and Riggs and his crew’s situation and the sense of foreboding doom cannot be any heavier. And then, it does, thanks to the aforementioned Sato Shin. That’s all I’ll say, but Outer Darkness continues to be a great addition to the space operas of the small screen from a writer, John Layman, who know his stuff. Only an entrenched fan of such stories would have the narrative know-how to take the conventional and twist it and turn it in original and, oft-times, frightening ways. Each issue builds and builds on the tensions created and sustained in this very tense book. Layman has done well in wrenching up the drama and deceit and this issue is no different. If you’re a fan already, I guarantee it’ll have you clamouring for more by the end. But, even if this newest crisis is averted, the mutinous feelings amongst the varied crew members can’t be bottled up forever. 

Afu Chan once again does not disappoint in his depiction of the crew and the ship, and the whole damn galaxy he’s in charge of building. I’m loving his strong and varied character designs from the good to the bad and even the ugly. The crone – who also doubles up as The Beauty – is fast becoming a fascinating character I can’t wait to read more about in subsequent issues, offering both prophecies and solace of a certain kind. What’s her story? After last issue’s focus on crew member and demi-god, Elox, I can only imagine there will be other such issues like this, depending on the story’s needs, of course. With Elox being show to be something far more than anyone had ever imagined, I’m intrigued in his own part to play in this unfolding sci-fi thriller. With the sideway, knowing look hegiras Sato, I’d say his part in this isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot. I’m still trying to figure out whether is for good or for bad, however. 

All in all, this book is a darker sci-fi series than many may be used to, but in building up a confrontational crew and even more confrontational main character in Captain Riggs, I’ve been well and truly drawn in and want to know who lives and who dies. And, in a galaxy that also embraces magic, how many of this dead may well return?

Like Chew before it, I hope Layman has many, many more stories got tell. Both he and Chu are building and developing a ship full of characters that fascinate and have their own stories to offer. I for one am in on the long-haul, even if some fo Riggs’s crew aren’t. Mission to come on board, captain!

Outer Darkness #5 is out Wednesday 13th March from Skybound.

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