Welcome back to Comic Kudos where I give praise to comics I enjoy. Today's comic: Outcast by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Paul Azaceta (Potter's Field).
Unlike the previous comic I wrote about, Silver Surfer, Outcast is not a bright and fun comic. Outcast is dark. Outcast is very, very dark. If you are aware of all the personal tortures Kirkman sends his characters through on The Walking Dead, you are aware of just how dark he can make it for the characters in Outcast. This isn't the same situation — there is no apocalypse going on, but rather the darkness is more personal for the characters, more rooted in their history. This makes for a very good read as that history is slowly pulled back layer by layer to reveal the darkness underneath.
The main character is Kyle Barnes, a man with a troubled past. From the first moment we see him, walking through his empty house, we catch flashes of the past, of him as a boy calling out for his mother in the very same house. We slowly come to learn that all his life, Kyle has surrounded by people who have been somehow possessed.
Reverend Anderson is the local pastor, cynical about the world, but optimistic about his faith. He recruits Kyle to try and exorcise a local boy who has become possessed. There Kyle is called "Outcast" by the boy and Kyle's touch harms him.
Rounding out the cast of characters is Kyle's foster sister Megan, her police officer husband Mark, Kyle's estranged ex-wife and daughter, and a mysterious white-haired man who has taken an interest in Kyle.
From the muted colors to the slow buildup to even the subject matter, the entire book feels very similar to The Exorcist crossed with film noir. Every cut, every drop of blood is shown in detail, while Kyle's face looks haggard and worn. The book examines the relationship between parent and child and the issue of blind faith. The characters are realistic and fully three-dimensional, especially Kyle and Reverend Anderson, displaying their flaws to the world even as we see them struggle to overcome them.
Overall, Outcast is a fantastic horror comic that uses an often overdone premise (demonic possession) to great extent. The first six issues are now out in trade paperback format. You should pick it up.