Writer – Robert Kirkman
Artist – Paul Azaceta
Colours – Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letters – Rus Wooton
Review by Stephen Hardman
In a recent letters column in Robert Kirkman’s Outcast he pointed out that the comic is now the third longest running series he has created, after The Walking Dead and Invincible. Currently nineteen issues in, it is easy to envisage Outcast reaching the 50 and 100-issue milestones that those other titles have in recent years.
Created with artist Paul Azaceta, and with vital input from colourist Elizabeth Breitweiser and letterer Rus Wooton, the series has so far been laying down foundations and background for what is clearly a much larger story. That’s not to say that each issue is heavy with exposition or lacking in excitement. It is a slower burn than Kirkman’s other series but the pacing of Outcast is both necessary and perfectly suited to the subject matter. Kirkman and Azaceta are exploring big themes in this book, and they seem determined to do so at their own pace, while not sacrificing the storytelling elements that are essential to a successful monthly comic.
You may be familiar with Outcast from the Cinemax TV adaptation which began airing earlier this year. The fact that Kirkman is attached to it is sure to account for a lot of the interest, given how huge The Walking Dead TV series is. If you have seen the TV series I would urge you to check out the comic book as the eerie, menacing atmosphere created in the show is very much present in the original comic book too. Much of the oppressive feel of the comic (this is a good thing) is created by the stunning artwork of Paul Azaceta and the superlative colours of Elizabeth Breitweiser.
Azaceta’s exterior settings are brilliant and really give the reader a sense of place, the underlying menace of the suffocating small-town, echoed in the TV series, is rendered perfectly on the page. Azaceta is equally good at giving the characters distinct personalities, Kirkman often leaving his artist to say more with facial expressions than he can do with dialogue.
Breitweiser’s colours are integral to the overall feel of Outcast. She is well-established as one of the leading colourists working today, through her work with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips for Image. Here she lends her expert sensibility to help create truly stunning pages. The interior scenes are often dark, Breitweiser using blues and purples, colours which add to the overall coldness of the settings. The exterior scenes are brighter but still bleak, as the story has so far been set in Autumn/Winter, so the trees are bare, snow is falling, and the clouds are grey, thick and low.
Kirkman has acknowledged the difficulties of tackling demonic possession as a subject, and has made it clear that he is not taking a religious standpoint. He does however tread carefully, as he knows that there is potential for easily causing offence, but not at the expense of the story. We are only just being given any real detail about Kyle Barnes abilities, why he has them, and the wider implications for the people around him. Some of the peripheral characters are being fleshed out and it is clear that the creators have a huge story to tell.
Outcast is a great comic book series and really works well in monthly instalments. It is, even at this relatively early stage, to be an accomplished, refined piece of work and I’m very excited to see where the creators are going to take the story in the months ahead.
Stephen Hardman is a trainee Legal Executive Lawyer who currently resides in Bath, in the UK with his wife and their cat. Among other things he writes in his spare time. He is currently working on a novel which he hopes to finish soon, and he has written a few short stories as well, though has not had anything published. Yet. Stephen loves reading and is a huge crime fiction fan; George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Ken Bruen being particular favourites. He is an editor and contributor at the geek culture website Geeks Unleashed.
His obsession with comic books knows no bounds and he loves sharing news and reviews of all the great comic books and graphic novels being published right now. He also loves listening to music and seeing bands live, and is always seeking out new bands and musicians to obsess about.
You can catch him on Twitter @HardDaysWrite.