Exposure Helps the Cause in Outcast 36

by Drew Baumgartner

Outcast 36

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

For nine years, Koresh had relentlessly drilled his followers to prepare for Armageddon, had preached its inevitability, had forecast its imminence. This was the ending that Koresh had prayed for and staked his reputation on — the final battle, the trial by fire. It didn’t matter if the fire came from automatic rifles or a match and a can of kerosene; this was what Koresh had promised. Anything less would have been a monumental betrayal of his claim to be David Koresh, Angel Warrior of the Armageddon. Did anyone really expect the prophet of Ranch Apocalypse to meekly surrender his sheep to the enemy and come out with his hands up?

Gary Cartwright, “The Enemy Within”

What do you know about the Waco siege? I admittedly don’t know a ton — it happened when I was five years old — but as with any event with conflicting stories, “what you know” may matter less than “who you believe.” In light of the beliefs of the Branch Davidians, the events of the eventual raid, and especially the presence of the stockpiled weapons the ATF was originally there to seize, it’s hard for me to imagine the Davidians as anything other than dangerous zealots. That is, the plausible deniability of their threat dissolved under scrutiny — the more light shed on the situation, the crazier they looked. Rowland Tusk has orchestrated a surprisingly similar situation for Kyle, preparing for a siege of his own religious “cult,” but with the truth on Kyle’s side, it sure seems like things are actually stacked in his favor. Continue reading

Oblivion Song 4 Doesn’t Waste Time Rehashing the Plot

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Perhaps I’m getting (even more) irritable in my old age, but more and more I find myself cringing at excessive expositional dialogue. It may not always be the case, but I like to think that comic book readers are an intelligent and intuitive bunch, making clunky fact-establishing dialogue a little jarring. As a veteran of creating his own universes and mythologies, Robert Kirkman knows the right balance of give and take when it comes to expositional dialogue. Continue reading

Loving the Dimension You’re With in Oblivion Song 3

by Drew Baumgartner

Oblivion Song 3

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Hey, can you get Stockholm syndrome for a place? For a set of circumstances? When generalized in this way, Stockholm syndrome seems less like a pathology and more like a testament to human resilience. We can come to love whatever hand life deals us, even when we initially wanted something completely different. Maybe that’s a coping mechanism to keep us from dwelling on what could have been, but it’s potent, either way. Anywhere you look, from crumbling cities to evacuated war zones, you’ll find people who refuse to leave because this is their home. Or, more precisely, this is their life — they can’t just chuck it all away for something they might have preferred a decade ago. It’s not an attitude that makes a whole lot of sense from the outside looking in, but that may be exactly what the remaining survivors in Oblivion are feeling. Continue reading

Oblivion Song 2 Explores Different Approaches to Loss and Grief

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The sad truth of our lives is that we will all eventually have to say goodbye to the person or persons we care about most. The thing that differs is how we all cope with that grief. Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici’s Oblivion Song 2 explores a few different ways in which we handle that loss. Continue reading

Remixing the Familiar in Oblivion Song 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Oblivion Song

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

…there is no new thing under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

It’s unfortunate that pointing out that something isn’t entirely original is seen as a critique. In this postmodern age of the remix, surely we can all understand that nothing is “entirely original,” or at least isn’t made from entirely original parts. As with cooking, the excitement lies more in how the individual ingredients interact with one another than any one ingredient’s novelty. Such is the case with Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici’s new Oblivion Song, which smashes together several familiar premises and character motivations, but manages to produce something surprisingly refreshing. Continue reading

Relishing the Details in Outcast 33

by Drew Baumgartner

Outcast 30

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

One of the most distinctive stylistic choices of Outcast has always been its use of small insert shots, inset into larger panels. Early in the series, those inserts were largely used to capture small scene details and gestures, but as the cast has grown, they’ve increasingly focused on faces, offering us the emotional state of several characters at a glance — especially those who might not be actively participating in the action/conversation of the scene. We might understand that as reflective of Kyle’s own shift in priorities, focusing less on the textural trappings of his life and more on the people he loves, but the effect is a series that now has an audience surrogate on virtually every page, reflecting our own shock and horror back at us. Continue reading

Outcast 32 Gets Procedural

by Drew Baumgartner

Outcast 32

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The storytelling of Outcast has always been incremental. Problems are slowly introduced, relationships slowly change, and the series slowly develops over dozens of issues. It’s a storytelling mode that will be familiar to anyone who’s read any of Robert Kirman’s other 100-issue-plus series, but in Outcast, that deliberate pacing is combined with perspectives on both sides of the war between light and dark, lending the series a procedural element that I would argue is unique in Kirman’s oeuvre. Those procedural elements come to the fore in issue 32, as both sides adjust to their new normals. Continue reading

(Almost) Normalizing the Enemy in Outcast 31

by Drew Baumgartner

Outcast 31

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Get back to work.

Gus Fring, “Box Cutter”

Is there any scene in modern television more gripping than Gus Fring slowly changing out of his street clothes, unexpectedly slashing the throat of one of his loyalest employees, then changing back, as calmly as before? It’s a shocking show of force from a character that had mostly distinguished himself for his almost quaint professional decorum. He was a drug lord, sure, but he treated it as a kind of regular day job, fully compartmentalized from his familiarly domestic home life. In many ways, Rowland Tusk feels cast in that same mold, separating his home life from his more sinister occupation, and largely keeping his hands clean until — suddenly — he needs to get his hands dirty. Continue reading

A Study in War Preparations in Outcast 30

by Drew Baumgartner

Outcast 30

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

It’s easy to feel optimistic at the start of Outcast 30 — Simon and Kyle have just discovered a new Outcast, Daphne, and they all seem stronger than ever. Or, they will be, but right now they’re exhausted after clearing out a huge safehouse for the merge (or the possessed — we need something to call these antagonists). There’s a bit of tension as Kyle has to convince his family to take in a complete stranger, but even the resolution of that is played for maximum hopefulness, as both Simon and Amber comment on how much stronger they feel in Daphne’s presence. It’s almost enough to feel like they might be in a position of strength — especially after the way last month’s issue ended. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 6/7/17

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Cannibal 6, Extremity 4, Injection 13, and Outcast 28. Also, we discussed Faith 12 on Thursday and will be discussing Star Wars: Darth Vader 1 and Paper Girls 15 on Tuesday, so check back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading