Creator and Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Paul Azeceta
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Cover: Paul Azeceta, Elizabeth Breitweiser
Outcast keeps the momentum going this month. Robert Kirkman reveals some much needed details, which gives the story some substance. After seventeen issues in, we finally feel like we know something. However, there is still much to learn, and that’s exciting!
Again, Kirkman adds some variety to the pages this month. We follow several scenes, rather than drawing out one encounter over many pages, as we’ve seen in past issues. In issue 16, Kyle attempted to exorcise a demon without the Reverend’s assistance, and he didn’t do very well. He barely made it out alive. Brutally beaten, he crawls up the stairs from the basement. Interestingly, in this issue, he comes to, and the Reverend is there, waking him up. It seems a bit too convenient for the Reverend to have been released from jail since the end of last issue. Seeing how Kyle fared without his assistance was a curious plotline; Kirkman should’ve spread it out a bit longer. Regardless, after almost being beaten a pulp, Kyle learns quite a bit. When people are newly possessed, their senses are incredibly sensitive, so they retreat to dark places, avoid loud noises, dislike strong smells, and so on. He tests out this theory by having the Reverend use a phonebook, rather than the bible, to exorcise the demon. Screaming names and addresses works. They know how to stop new demons.
Over the course of the comic, we’ve seen the Reverend’s faith tested. More and more he starts questioning God. In this issue, during a poker game with Officer Brian and others, he says, “I think God is an asshole,” and “Doesn’t it seem to you sometimes . . . like he’s just . . . well . . . fucking with us?” He goes on to explain, “I think it’s a big puzzle . . . with rules you have to figure out for yourself. If you figure out the game before you die . . . that’s when you get the reword. If you don’t . . . well, you’re shit out of luck. I think there are hints and clues along the way, boys . . . and if you’re not looking out for them . . . or if you read them wrong . . . well, you go down that path . . . maybe you devote your whole goddamn life to that path, thinking what you saw means a certain thing.” This line of thinking is quite deep for a holy man. He thinks that being good or bad (or the bible in general) is subjective. Kirkman may be acting a bit meta in this scene—are there clues we should be keeping an eye out for? Have there been hints in previous issues? It’s likely.
After this scene, we see Sidney meeting with a group of people at the Deer Creek Lodge, all in the dark. He speaks about the merge. Kirkman purposely put this scene after the Reverend’s speech about clues and hints. At this point, it’s important to read into everything.
As always, Paul Azeceta and Elizabeth Breitweiser strike a perfect balance in their artwork. Their styles are perfect for Outcast. The expressions Azeceta pens complemented with Breitweiser’s colors are elements to look forward to in each issue. Azeceta makes you feel what the characters are feeling. Most of the scenes throughout the comic are dark, yet Breitweiser finds a way to give them dimension and life.
Azeceta’s and Breitweiser’s cover features a side profile of Kyle’s sister Megan this month. Next to her is a very rough, abstract drawing of her with devil horns. The use of a red (almost burnt orange) helps the image jump off the page. Through the shrieking expression, you can almost feel how she’s feeling. What she’s done will never leave her, even though she wasn’t in control. The soft rendering of Megan’s face juxtaposed with the harshly drawn demon is smartly executed.
Issue 17 is another impressive issue. Kirkman gives the story some variety, and we learn some interesting details about demons. As the merge gets closer, it’ll be important to keep an eye out for revealing clues and hints. What will the merge have in store for Kyle?