[+++WARNING: This review contains some spoilers for Outer Darkness #11+++]
The first series of sci-fi/horror comic Outer Darkness is almost up, but that doesn’t mean the drama is being notched down any one bit. In fact, with Captain Rigg already scheming behind his crew’s back – and everybody else’s too, it would seem – the melodrama is only getting more and more tense as he begins to show his hand, first by taking out Satalis and trying to feed him to the ship’s God-engine, Gallu, then by recruiting a whole new crew. A real rogue, scoundrel and asshole, it would seem. Well, he’s in good company then, as we’ve seen throughout this whole gripping space-faring yarn.
As the crew of The Charon take some well-earned shore level, in this week’s Outer Darkness #11, with Rigg’s footing the bill for the party (for reasons that will be revealed further in in the book, so don’t be going thinking he’s gone soft on ’em), on the space station Sagittarius Base Alpha – their destination since issue #1 – Rigg scuttles off to interview the aforementioned new recruits, who offer the reader a great reprise from the main, malevolent and Machiavellian plot.
It’s the kind of cut-away montage scene we’ve seen in countless TV shows and films whenever there’s a crew or team to be formed, but when done right, it’s always a fun ride and fun distraction too. And, with John Layman at the helm, it doesn’t disappoint. He’s shown on Chew he can do horror as easily well as he does parody and humour. The parade of colourful characters – all beautifully envisioned and brought to life on the page by Afu Chan – add further colour to this ever expanding universe of this series, and their mixture of sci-fi and supernatural leanings create some goofy but great-looking characters. And, it’s a great break from the tension of the main plot and will, undeniably, bring a smile to your face. Whether it’s the Channeller, who needs a well-stocked supply of animals to sacrifice while in space, or the Disney-eque lizard-like Lassers, this particular scene in the book – all shown from the same, over-the-table p.o.v. – is a real stand alone moment for me, in a book full of such moments.
There are further revelations and startling secrets to be gleaned from this penultimate issue, with the final page reveal promising a little bit more of the horror and bloodshed we’ve seen in previous issues, once again coming to the fore next issue.
Rigg is a right rotter, but then so are a lot of the rest of his crew, too. The only redeeming characters is the stern, but sensible, ship’s administrator Soreen Rapakash, who’s ties to Rigg may be closer than we originally thought after one racer startling revelation depicted in this issue. It’s all creating a great deal of intrigue for the second season, even as this one comes to a close next issue. Hers; hoping we aren’t going to need to sit too long for that to happen.
I’m really enjoying this series, and if you’ve yet to pick it up and have stumbled upon this review, I really, really recommend it to any fan of good sci-fi and good comics. It has great humour, great characters and great, retro-style artwork and with a heady mix of gore and supernatural magic, its definitely not something you’ve read before. Alien may have been famously summarised as “Jaws in space,” but Outer Darkness is best summed up as “Star Trek in Hell”.
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Outer Darkness #11 is out now from Image Comics/Skybound.