Thursday, 26 June 2014

New Beginnings - Outcast #1

by Matt Puddy

Riding high on the renowned comic and the subsequent smash hit TV show, The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman is releasing a new comic this week. This is in addition to the currently running Invincible and Thief of Thieves (and forgotten gems like Super Dinosaur and Haunt), making Outcast yet another string to his very diverse bow.

This first issue is a scene setter, laying groundwork for the series, but most importantly it introduces us to Kyle. Now a complete shell of a man trying to live on the outskirts of the real world, Kyle is trying to escape from his own past which has been plastered with tragedy at his own hands, fighting demonic possession of first his mother and then his wife. The only problem is that he doesn’t really know what he is running from and the ideas he has of what it could be he doesn’t believe... at first.

Dragged back into civilisation against his will by his sister-in-law leads to a chance encounter with the Reverend who “helped” with his mother. This time, Kyle’s assistance is requested with a young boy who is apparently possessed. Firm in the belief that it was Kyle himself who was critical in the exorcism of his mother, the Reverend pleads with him to help and eventually he caves in, partially through morbid curiosity but mostly driven to help. To understand.

What Kyle finds though confirms his fears; there is something inside young Joshua, something dark and evil. Worse still it recognises Kyle. The demon and its brethren have been looking for someone like him. An outcast. Releasing the boy from the demon's grip using his own blood – which burns on contact – only creates more answers that need to be found on top of the already growing pile of questions. 

What is Kyle? Why is he like this? And what is the force that is pursuing him to the detriment of those around him? Issue #2 and onwards will find all of this out.

In the open letter that forms the afterword to this first issue, Kirkman explains that this comic is going to be one of exploration into the accounts and possibilities of possession, albeit without too much of a religious angle on it and this issue has certainly opened the door for that.

For the series he has teamed up with Paul Azaceta, who has a wide artistic CV covering Marvel, Boom! Studios and Dark Horses comics to name a couple of big publishers. He has quite a heavy style, but uses shapes and shadows to create a sinister backdrop to the whole story. Elizabeth Breitweiser's colouring can at times be almost a little too heavy though, as you have to really pay attention to a couple of frames to take it all and not miss any points – one of which I feel will become quite important in issues to come.

This is a new comic taking an old concept and adding a new twist. What I did also like was that there is already a feeling of longevity to it. It’s a series that almost feels like it has gravitas from the first issue. A worthwhile one to follow if you want to step away from the realms of superheroes and into something sinister. One that is almost possible in a village near you...

Matt Puddy walks off into the mist humming Tubular Bells.

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