In Review: Outer Darkness #8

Hydzek and Sister Magdalena form a bond during a stressful situation aboard the Charon.

The cover: This is a great cover by Afu Chan. Malona Hydzek is facing the right with her head slightly turned to the reader. She’s holding a massive rifle in her hands. Behind her is Sister Magdalena Antona who has one hand on Hydzek’s shoulder as she worries at what is before her. Heavy rain is falling on the pair, with the colors in the upper right corner violet growing darker the farther down the rain goes. Notice the religious imagery in the shape of Hydzek’s gun and the image in the center of the weapon. Very, very cool. The showcasing of both characters tells the reader exactly who the focus of this issue will be upon. Overall grade: A+

The story: John Layman opens this issue with Hydzek getting stabbed by ghost Nazis, the ones that killed her when she was on an away mission into the spectral house from 20th century Earth last issue. This is a nightmare that’s repeating and it’s getting worse. ‘The nightmares were bad enough before that. Then they got worse. After I died. After my soul got retrieved and a new body grown for it. After every other goddamn thing that happened since I got assigned to this horrible goddamn spaceship.’ The story then flashes back to how Hydzek was recruited before graduation by Admiral Prakash. He wants her to report only to him using a false background. Hydzek doesn’t feel she can decline and she ends up on the Charon and its hellish journey. She speaks with the Ship Administrator to ask for a transfer and is denied. Why she is denied is a shock for her and the reader. Stuck on the Charon, she’s assigned to show around Sister Magdalena, the nun found alive in the ghost house last issue. The nun is obviously overwhelmed at what she sees. Layman is able to show a new location to the nun and the reader, as well as reintroduce some characters; Page 11 was quite the surprise at one person’s state. Something ominous begins on 12 that’s also funny, but is a harbinger of deadly trouble on 13. I was surprised/not surprised at the decision of a character on 16, but really floored by the dialogue that ends 17. The reveal of the top of 19 was a jaw-dropper — This is not going to end well. The entrance on 19 and the dialogue on 20 is great. I was happy for a momentary upbeat ending on this series, because I know Layman will not have this last long. I loved the focus on these two characters and the surprises that came with them. Overall grade: A+

The art and colors: This book opens with the shocking image of Hydzek getting skewered from behind with a bayonet by a ghost Nazi, who is accompanied by two of his supernatural ilk. The heroine stands out not only for the horrible action occurring to her, but the violets that have her stand out against the luminescent greens of the ghosts. The pull in to Hydzek at the top of 2 highlight her suffering. I like that the final two panels on this page have her screaming spirit transform into the Charon, giving the vessel an instantly hellish tone. Afu Chan then gets to show cadet Hydzek being recruited. She looks young and completely overwhelmed by the admiral whose position in the room makes him look powerful. The coloring adds to the serious tone of their conversation. The three different threats on 6 progressively become more horrible with each panel. The explosion of color atop 7, which are mirrored in the final panel, are a terrific way to show the life within the character. Notice how these colors carry over to the first panel on the next page, but then they disappear on the conversation that follows, showing how life has left the characters on their voyage. The colors become more normal as Hydzek shows Sister Magdalena around, perhaps teasing how each needs the other to create some sense of normalcy. I like how Hydzek’s narration is colored green so the reader may visually separate it from the dialogue. The location, the oversized character, and the colors on 12 are brutal, yet perfect. The element that begins on this page looks outstanding. The threats on 14 have an outstanding design and what happens to them is killer. I love the change of colors on 16, which suit the command given, but also amplify the tension of the attack. The visual that tops 19 made me gasp, which I saw before I read the text. The first panel on 20 is cool, creepy, and funny due to the size difference. The smiles that end this issue are heartfelt and gave me a rare warm feeling that was more than welcome. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The text of this issue is created by Pat Brosseau: narration and dialogue (the same font), scene settings, sounds, yells and transmissions (the same font), and the two word tease for next issue. The narration and dialogue should be different fonts as they are different forms of communication and are differed by the shape of their boxes and balloons and colors. The scene settings look great in an elongated 80’s font. There are a few sounds for the battle and they look good. The yells and sole transmission are simply a larger and thicker font than the dialogue. The shape of their balloons make them dissimilar. Again, I would have preferred these be in different fonts. The two word tease for next issue looks great in a classic arcade game style. Overall grade: A- 

The final line: Hydzek and Sister Magdalena form a bond during a stressful situation aboard the Charon. Excellent character development for both women, with plenty of action, horrors, and surprises. The visuals capture the emotion and terrors of supernatural space sensationally. This series is must-reading for fans of science fiction or horror. Recommended. Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Outer-Darkness-8/digital-comic/774459?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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