Outer Darkness #8 continues in its promise to focus on more of the other crew members of The Charon, and in this month’s issue we are given some quality time with Malona Hydzek as she is assigned to show newest crew member, the 20th century Catholic nun, Sister Magdalena, around the ship. And, in doing so, we are reminded of the day-to-day perils of being a crew member. After all, amongst their crew is still the demonically possessed Sato Shin, as well as further dangers along the way. A reminder of the horror this series has does so well to skilfully weave into this Star Trek meets The Evil Dead type saga. Don’t forget that the ship itself runs on something far more unstable than dilithium crystals but rather a captured demon god.
Digging into Hydez’s background, it would seem that her position on this ship – like so many others we are discovering – is not as straight forward as you may have originally thought. After all, at the start of this whole series we are given the impression that this was very much a book focusing on Captain Rigg and a handful of characters in a power struggle for dominion. As the series has progressed, just as John Layman did before in Chew, we learn that there are far more intriguing threads to this space opera than one would think, and it’s these growing complexities and, oft-times, clandestine plans that elevate this comic book beyond just a horror/sci-fi mash-up that has both homaged and played on classic tropes of the two genres. It’s a well-planned, multi-layered story of galactic politics and power plays with more and more mysteries mounting with each issue. All unbeknownst to Rigg, it would appear.
The reliance on a non-linear narrative in many of the issues to date also helps keep the reader disorientated and nervy as more and more Machiavellian plots are revealed. I wouldn’t want to be a member of this dysfunctional crew. I’d forever be looking over my shoulder, which gives the whole second half of this first season a sense of foreboding and the hint of tragedies to come.
Afu Chan’s clean, Manga-influenced art continues to impress and he is equally at home with the more science fiction elements of this book as he is with the all out horror. Its his inventiveness that also excels and creates a truly original sci-fi series with such architectural treats as the Galactic Service Training Satellite Horus; a Taj Mahal in space. It adds to the quirkier nature of a book that has already included a haunted house in space and a shape shifting witch amongst its crew. And, in amongst all of this is still the sly sense of humour we’ve come to expect from Layman. Another great issue in this burgeoning space-faring saga.
Outer Darkness #8 is out this week from Skybound/Image.