'Outer Darkness' #12: The DoomRocket Review
Cover to Outer Darkness #12. Art: Afu Chan/Image Comics

by Jarrod Jones. Outer Darkness, a longform sci-fi/horror experience from John Layman, Afu Chan and Pat Brosseau that you definitely need to be reading right now, has hit its first bloody milestone. 12 issues means we’ve reached the book’s first season finale, which also means, yes, there’s plenty more issues of Outer Darkness in front of us and that gives me strength.

Outer Darkness has charisma enough to burn for lightyears. That charisma doesn’t settle on its lead, Captain Joshua Jerome Rigg, and then peter out the further down we go on the narrative pecking order. Here, Rigg is just chief asshole, imbued with Idris Elba looks and your shitty college roommate’s scumbaggery. He’s surrounded by a rich coterie of characters who each have their own ambitions and desires, who are hardly deterred by this talking meatsack who stands in their way shielded by what is best described as tenuous authority.

Rigg’s pissed off a veritable mountain of folks during his tenure as the captain of the starship Charon. Sitting atop that summit, fangs bared, is First Officer Satalis, who has the bonafides to captain his own ship, knows how to exorcise a roomful of head-chopping demons (without breaking a sweat on his horned crimson forehead), and has suffered more than enough of Rigg’s bullshit. The tables turn in this issue, oh my do they ever, though how they’ll play out is hard to figure because Outer Darkness has always careened along the spaceways on a corkscrew path. I remain bedeviled by its many intrigues and betrayals, its ultra-violence and devilry. Its supernatural thrills and hilarious animosities.

Afu Chan, who should be set atop most critics’ Best Artists of 2019 lists, makes Outer Darkness come alive. Chan’s character models are impeccable. His facial expressions compound the impact of Layman’s various melodramas with interest. And the way he splices cosmic horror, necromancy and witchcraft with military discipline and Roddenberrian sleekness is unparalleled. Ship and costume design. Painstaking detail put in for characters already meant for the butcher’s block. Afu Chan’s accomplishments on this book are a newfound form of artistic sorcery and we should all stand in awe of it.

During the length of this issue, Outer Darkness escalates its stakes—better, it level-jumps. Quantum leaps. If you’re looking for a Star Trek-flavored analogy that illustrates how Outer Darkness has just pushed its own boundaries, here’s one: In terms of tone, reading issue #10 of Outer Darkness and then reading issues #11 & #12 is equal to watching the entire third season of The Next Generation and then diving straight into season seven of Deep Space Nine. All bets are off. Everything’s gone akimbo. The starship Charon now ventures into a frontier cold, frightening, and potentially final. Hop aboard. Get caught up. Then watch as Outer Darkness goes, boldly.

Image Comics / $3.99

Written by John Layman.

Art by Afu Chan.

Letters by Pat Brosseau.

9 out of 10

Check out this 4-page preview of ‘Outer Darkness’ #12, courtesy of Image Comics!