Posted July 4, 2014 by Julius Sambo in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta #1

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Publisher: Image Comics

What’s wonderful about Robert Kirkman is his flexibility. He’s currently writing three ongoings—Invincible, The Walking Dead, and the more obscure and lesser-known Super Dinosaur. The first one is a capes and tights story, the next one is everyone’s favourite no-this-is-not-a-horror-story-but-hey-zombies comic book, and the last one is Kirkman’s feeble attempt to keep some of his sanity by writing an all ages book featuring yet another savage creature (his last one was another Jason Howard collab, The Astounding Wolfman). This time around Kirkman is attempting to go all-out with a no-holds-barred eyes-out-of-their-sockets-keeping-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat horror story with his latest incarnation Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta. Fun fact: the comic’s title is indeed Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta. Apparently, competing comic book publisher Valiant Entertainment has retained the ownership of the trademark for the title “Outcast” despite not having produced a comic with the same title for 16 years. Moving forward, this latest Image sell-out has sent the whole comic book collecting society in a flurry expecting it to be the next Walking Dead. But other than the Kirkman seal of approval, does it hold up to everyone’s expectations?

Concept-wise, this comic gets 8/10 stars. Demonic possession is one of the few topics that have not reached complete oversaturation, and Kirkman is able to deliver a story that is original and intriguing. However, the execution needs a bit of tweaking. With 44 pages to flesh out a blueprint to what will be his next great epic, Robert Kirkman was unable to completely welcome me aboard the Outcast express. The first few pages were a bit confusing as they seemed like flashbacks to the main character’s (Kyle Barnes) childhood (which they are not). There is an ambiguity in the relationships established, and the subtle hints dropped do not help at all. Remember, this is just the first issue but Kirkman seemed to have injected an enormous amount of flashback scenes that will probably, at the rate it usually it takes him to complete an arc, easily fill up two whole volumes. I guess the problem here is that Kirkman wants to flesh out the Kyle Barnes persona rather quickly that the whole world building ended up being focused on him alone. The supposed mythos of the story was only lightly touched upon while the person that is Kyle Barnes has already been established.

If any case that the story seems unappealing to you, then I guess Azaceta’s art and Breitweiser’s colours are enough of a reason to keep you coming back. It’s tastefully dark and spooky, perfect for that horror comic vibe. Each panel is a treat, especially with the addition of certain “focus panels” highlighting particular actions (reminiscent of David Aja’s work on Hawkeye). The book has this really grim feel about it and the pencil and colour work were both able to elicit this mood. Wonderful work from Paul Azaceta and Elizabeth Breitweiser.

I think the main reason to both like and dislike this book is one and the same—Robert Kirkman. Like his greatest works, this has the tendency to go on forever. This could both be a good thing if the story does end up having something to move forward from, and not if it ends up as nothing but a blatant attempt at milking the franchise and prolonging its tenure. Some stories should come to an end, and frankly, I don’t see Kirkman feeling the need to end his two longstanding titles Invincible and The Walking Dead anytime soon. The same could be the case for Outcast if it ends up becoming the half the success that his zombie franchise is.  Nonetheless, Outcast has the makings of a good comic. But if this is supposed to be a horror story, then why do I not feel scared?

7/10 – I liked Outcast, but for something that is supposed to be a horror story, it just wasn’t spooky enough. If you’re looking for something to scare the bajeezus out of you, look elsewhere. There’s Joe Hill’s Wraith: Welcome to Christmas Land and Locke and Key. Heck, Scott Lobdell’s Superman run is even scarier than this (in another level that is haha). Nonetheless, go on and buy this book. It’s just the debut issue and though there are a lot of things in need of sorting out, everything should be more interesting from here on out.

Julius Sambo

Julius spends his free time reading comic books, listening to audio books, watching countless cancelled TV shows, and pretending that he's some kind of sci-fi loving guy (He hasn't seen Star Wars! Gasp!). He likes to create things, loves 90% of baked products, he hates Math, and his one dream is to go to space.