Outer Darkness #11
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Afu Chan
Captain Rigg and the crew of The Charon return in the latest issue of Outer Darkness. While the run has stalled out the last few issues, this newest installment breathes new life into a unique world. It’s wonderful when you stick with a comic, and it rewards you with an unforeseen twist.
In a story that lends itself so well to the episodic nature of comics, it’s a piece of irony when that aspect of the comic is the very thing that makes the run feel stale. The premise of Out Darkness is sound. It’s about a ragtag collection of hardened soldiers, wizards, and warriors, scouring the cosmos for lost souls. It easy then, for self-contained issues–beginning, middle, and end. Within this structure, the larger narrative sense is lost. Until now. For the first time in the series, Captain Rigg faces the true consequences of his actions. He knows he’s on the chopping block, but he won’t go down quietly. This issue gives readers a look at just how far Captain Rigg will go to get what he wants. It takes the series in a bold, new direction.
This issue marks an important step for both Captain Rigg and his friend (and fellow conspirator) Agwe. Throughout the first and second arcs of this comic, the crew or The Charon say Rigg is crazy, unlikeable, even malicious at times. But up until now, I never felt that way about the captain. He is headstrong, yes. He’s brash and bold, yes. But malicious? I didn’t get the sense he was so toward his own crew. . . Let that sink in. Finally, readers get a glimpse into what Captain Rigg truly wants. This desire spurs him to action and pushes the plot in an exciting new direction.
Afu Chan is an able artist, and all the previous issues of Outer Darkness prove this. While I wouldn’t call any of this art groundbreaking or mind-bending, I would note that Chan has a real knack for character design in a world such as this. Alien and demonic monsters (check), Lizard Alien creatures (check), a man wearing dead bird as a hat (check). Some of these character designs are hilarious, once examined, and I can’t help but imagine Afu Chan having a field day in a studio or cafe, laughing as they went. Frankly, I want to see more of this. The story of Outer Darkness certainly has the potential for more darkness as well as more humor in artistic design.