Once, fusion cooking was the new big thing. A breakthrough in the culinary crafts that is so common these days – from street food vans to high end eating – it’s another norm of the foodie world. Well, upon finishing issue #6 of John Layman and Afu Chan’s Outer Darkness, it occurred to me that this whole series to date is the glorious comic book equivalent. And it’s worked a dream as we come to the ‘mid-season break’ and close the book on Volume One of this enthralling, gripping sci-fi horror.
Yes, it’s immediately recognisable, and deliberately so, as a Star Trek style series, but added to the mix are the chills and blood-curdling thrills from a healthy cup or two of the horror (think Alien, or even Aliens in this issue) as well as a good pinch of Oriental mythology (especially in this issue’s revelation of the demon Sato Shin has become) and a dash fantasy and you have a book that is both familiar and very much different to anything else you may have read recently. I mean, their ship, The Charon, is powered by a captured demon and has, amongst its crew, a shape-shifting witch and her familiar. That doesn’t sound like any Star Trek episode I’ve ever seen. That, and a winning art style from Afu Chan that one would not necessarily think is typical, American style, comic book art. The colours alone add a certain grainy quality to proceedings, giving this even more of a feel of a retro-sci-fi classic.
Mix all of this up and leave to set, and what you have is a book that infuses many different elements from various genres and cultures to create a comic that has kept the reader on their toes and guessing. For instance, last issue started off 125 years into the future, as the reader witnesses the massacre of settlers, immediately throwing us into a future mystery that you just know has something to do with the reprehensible Captain Riggs. This issue we learn its origins, and it ain’t pretty. It’s yet another example of Riggs’s selfish, poor behaviour that continues to see the crew thrown into terrifying, gory peril. It’s an answer, even if it merely underscores Rigg’s selfish, carefree nature. He’s like Han Solo, but without the charm.
It’s no surprise that the final curtain on this issue leaves you with a sense of dread, as battle lines are drawn and not everyone is happy with Riggs’s command. I smell mutiny brewing and a suitably dramatic cliffhanger.
So far, this has been a great series and I can whole-heartedly say I am invested in this book and its crew members, even if I’m rooting for some over others. We’ve come to learn more about some of the crew than others, but it’s a slow-burning saga. One punctuated with enough menacing side-missions and supernatural shocks that really helps forge a very distinctive flavour on the figurative tongue. I’ll certainly be coming back for more whenever issue #7 sees the light of day. I, for one, want to see where this suspenseful space-faring saga ends up. And who’s left alive.
Outer Darkness #6 is out Wednesday, the 10th of April from Image/Skybound.