Written by: Neil Davies, Special to CC2K
Robert Kirkman’s first story arc (Issues #1 – #6) of his new horror series Outcast Vol. 1 combines suspenseful and supernatural storytelling to create an emotional tale about facing your demons.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Outcast centers on Kyle Barnes, a man whose life has been consistently plagued by demonic possessions. The consequences of which, left him ostracized from his loved ones and his life a fragmented mess. The introductory arc takes its time to develop real and relatable characters. Rather than rushing headfirst into a story filled with battles between demons and angels, Kirkman creates characters that have emotions, histories and genuine purpose. This slow-paced eerie story effortlessly builds the drama and suspense surrounding our character and sets the tone for the horrors to come.
Outcast’s story quickly sets the stage for the creepy, cringe-inducing horror that one would expect from a Kirkman book. However, the story puts the supernatural on the back-burner. Kirkman cleverly uses it as the plot device to grow his characters and move the story. This tale is elegant, eerie and it avoids instant gratification, turning this into a series that keeps my interest; I want to keep reading.
Paul Azaceta and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s art style is perfect for this series. Their ability to contrast dark and light tones visually sets the stage for the grander battle of good versus evil. Azaceta, in particular, manages to capture the raw, painful emotions experienced by Kirkman’s characters. Kyle is often depicted experiencing true emotional pain and battling with constant reminders of the lives that have been stolen from him.
Unfortunately, there were several instances during this six-issue arc where the art and story seemed disconnected from one another. The visuals explained concepts, plot devices and mysteries that would take the written dialogue several pages, if not issues, to catch up to. This rush job left the reader frustrated as I waited and waited for the characters to realize what I had easily figured out several issues prior.
One of the more beautiful aspects of this otherwise tragic story was its subtle and underlying moral lesson. Kyle is a man who is looking for peace in his otherwise abysmal life. He’s trying to get past the years of parental abuse, the loss of his family and his status as an outcast from society. However, this story shows us how he begins to find peace by helping others. This “horror” comic is subtly and beautifully teaching its readers that personal peace and reconciliation doesn’t come from self-centered wallowing, but rather from lifting others up. Outcast’s message was refreshing to receive from a comic book.
Ultimately, this is a story about facing one’s demons. Our main and supporting characters have sordid pasts and pains to overcome. Whether from their own actions or the actions of others. Kirkman’s storytelling, while slow paced at times, brings to life the true pain and emotion of these characters. While the principle story arc might not be the supernatural–Walking-Dead-vampire slayer-action-comic that one might’ve been expecting from Robert Kirkman, Outcast’s first story is emotionally powerful enough to have brought this author to the brink of tears.