Writer: John Layman
Artist: Afu Chan
Publisher: Image Comics
It’s interesting to sit back and take stock of one’s tastes. On the one hand, I grew up a hardcore Star Trek fan, a big believer in the ideal of a utopian future where humanity solves all our problems (to find new ones of course, but such is life) and zip around the cosmos in cool-looking starships wearing stylish uniforms. On the other hand, I absolutely adore Alien and Aliens; those films have a decidedly bleak take on humanity and the universe at large. Take both those settings, then throw in a hefty dose of Lovecraft by way of the Evil Dead movies, and you’ve got Outer Darkness Volume 1: Each Other’s Throats, a decidedly different take on a traditional space opera to say the least.
Joshua Rigg is having a pretty lousy go of it lately. Recently having been demoted to first officer of a freighter, he sets off on an otherwise typical cargo run that goes south when the ship gets infested by demons faster than the crew exorcists can deal with. Rigg’s actions save the crew but land him in even hotter water … until an old acquaintance from the admiralty offers him a promotion and his old command back: the deep space cruiser Charon. Charged with a mission from his superiors, Rigg takes command of a crew he doesn’t trust on a mission beyond the frontier … into the outer darkness.
Hot damn, but Outer Darkness was good. I’m a sucker for a good space opera, but throw horror into the mix, and I’m in like Finn. Space is vast, cold, and unforgiving to begin with, but the universe of Outer Darkness posits that it’s also filled with demons, that death isn’t the end, and what lies beyond might be even worse. It’s a bleak universe and not one I’d care to live in, but it makes for a delightfully twisted funhouse mirror of more traditional space opera like Star Trek. Layman’s writing conveys hard people living in a genuinely uncaring universe where you can have faster than light travel … provided you give the Sumerian god you’ve got enslaved as your engine core what it wants. And what it wants is blood. Chan’s artwork is stylized and arresting, with a nice mix at styles that gives the overall work an epic feel while working in some genuinely disturbing imagery. This is not a heroic tale in the least, and the series goes to some seriously twisted places at times.
Outer Darkness Volume 1: Each Other’s Throats is definitely not for those looking for lighthearted adventure, but if you like a nice mix of space opera and horror featuring complex characters and eldritch abominations facing off in a delightfully wicked setting, this comic is definitely a keeper!