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Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him by…

Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him

by Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Outcast Graphic Novels (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
A good story and idea is compromised by artwork that is lacking in differentiation between characters. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
I guess I’m kind of on a Kirkman kick this week, huh? First we had “Rise of the Governor’ and now we’re going back to his comics roots with “Outcast (Vol.1): A Darkness Surrounds Him”. Perhaps you’ve heard that this comic series, which focuses on demonic possession as opposed to zombies, now has a television show as well. While I haven’t checked that one out, I did decide it was high time to check out the source material. Demonic possession stories are not as high on my list as zombies are when it comes to themes in horror stories. While I think there is a lot you can do with the zombie trope and while I think you have lots of room to experiment with it, demonic possession tends to be pretty rooted in religious mythology, almost always Judeo-Christian mythology at that. But I have faith in Kirkman, and so I went in with an open mind.

The story concerns Kyle, a down on his luck and severely depressed man who has seemingly lost everything. His mother is in a perpetual state of catatonia, his wife left him and took their daughter with her after she accused him of beating the girl up, and he spends most of his days cut off from the world except when his sister Megan visits. But soon he’s approached by a local clergyman named Anderson, who wants his help dealing with a possessed boy. After all, Kyle is no stranger to possession. Unlike “The Walking Dead”, a comic without many mysteries, “Outcast” takes it’ sweet time unveiling the pieces of the puzzle that make it up. Going in we know very little about Kyle, and Kirkman is more interested in showing rather than telling this time around. Kyle is a character that even after Volume 1 I feel like I don’t know much about him, but he’s being drawn out in such a meticulous way that I’m not in any hurry to know everything. Especially since there is clearly so much tragedy in his life that many of these revelations are going to be no doubt painful. But as of right now, we know that Kyle has seen people he loves taken over by demons, which ultimately results in him losing them one way or another. Kyle is a tragic character who wants the world to leave him be, but happenstance always yanks him back to demons one way or another.

My favorite character as of right now, though, is Megan, Kyle’s sister whom he met in foster care before he was permanently taken in by her family. Megan is loyal and stubborn, and she has a family of her own now that Kyle is too afraid to get close to (not to mention her husband Mark believes that Kyle is a monster because of what happened to Kyle’s daughter). She is no nonsense and has not, as of yet, willingly played the part of a madonna in need of protecting (like Kyle’s ex wife Allison), which I am always afraid of in stories like this. Kirkman has written some very strong ladies in his day, and I’m happy to say that as of now Megan is one of those ladies. The other women in the book are not as well focused, as Allison is a spectral figure who Kyle is watching over and pining for, and a mysterious woman named Mildred who has been exorcised once before, and can’t stand to be near Kyle for probably pretty obvious reasons if you really think about it.

So is “Outcast” scary? For me, not really. I’m never really scared by stories like this, but at this point the plot is very much in set up mode. We see a few demons, and we see what becomes of them after Kyle and Anderson are able to get rid of them. But for now all we know is that Kyle has a strange power that makes him a huge threat to them. We know little about their actual origins, if they are religious as Anderson thinks they are, or not. I think that once all of the foundation is in place for this series, the scares will be able to come out in fuller force. Until then, we are very much talking about a character study, from broken Kyle to zealous Anderson to empathetic Megan, and even volatile Mark. However, there is one character who is giving me some serious creeps, and that is Sidney, a strange old man who has been lurking around Kyle and Anderson. He is clearly much much more than he appears to be given the last we saw of him (no spoilers here), and I definitely want to see more of this weirdo. He’s a far more interesting villain than the random demons as of now, and lord knows they gotta be connected somehow. Plus, I guess Brent Spiner plays him on the television show, so now THAT association is going to be fixed in my mind as I go forward as I continuously ask myself ‘what would a possessed Data look like?’

I would be a dope if I didn’t talk about the artwork in this book. Again, a wonderful illustrator has been chosen to give this comic it’s own tone and feel through design, and the colors (by colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser) add to the overall effect. The characters are all rather grim in their appearance, but they all have distinct looks and traits that separate them from each other. Lots of shadows are used to set a scene, from the darker images and saturations of Kyle’s home to the brighter but dull scenes of Anderson’s church. But the exception is the color red. Red always jumps off the page no matter what. Vibrant colors and bold hues are seen throughout the pages, and I loved how different it all was from other Kirkman comics. The scenes are works of art.

“Outcast (Vol.1): A Darkness Surrounds Him” has some serious potential to be a great comic. It’s going slowly as it sets everything up, but I feel as though I’m willing to try and be patient just so I can see how it’s all going to play out. This is a different kind of horror comic from Robert Kirkman, and.I am ready to dive in. ( )
  thelibraryladies | Nov 3, 2016 |
I wasn't sure what to expect since I had only ever read The Walking Dead series, but this was pretty awesome. It hooked me enough that I definitely want to continue reading it. It's very dark and deals with demonic possession. Kyle Barnes has had to put up with demonic possession his whole life and he's sick of it. It has taken everything good away from him. Determined to get some answers he teams up with a local priest, but little do they know the damage their meddling could do. Apparently it's also going to be a tv show. Color me intrigued! ( )
  ecataldi | Aug 1, 2016 |
All of his life, demons have surrounded Kyle Barnes in one way or another. With his is life in shambles he is haunted by memories he just cannot seem to shake; Kyle lives alone, wanting nothing more from life than to be a hermit in peace. The demons however aren't done with Kyle yet and if he has any hope of getting his wife and child back, he needs to find out the extent and limit of his power and why they are so attracted to him.

A Darkness Surrounds Him, is the first graphic novel in the Outcast series from the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman. Just like its predecessor, though Outcast ostensibly is about demons, it's actually about what happens when someone is confronted by the impossible and how they survive. What happens to a child when a loving mother suddenly turns abusive and violent and how does this then effect said child into manhood? Kyle is so obviously suffering PTSD that his pain simply echos off the page. It is symbolized in part by the locked door in his home that he cannot bring himself to enter - the room where he finally fought back against his demon possessed violently abusive mother. Kyle lives in filth, there's no food in his home and all he wants is to lay his memories of violence to bed - to stop them continually playing in his mind.

Kyle at least has his foster sister Meagan, who tries valiantly to lift him out of the abyss but even this relationship has been tainted with violence. As a child, Kyle started sneaking into his Megan's bedroom to sleep on the floor. Kyle became Megan's only defense against an older foster brother who would sneak into her room and molest her. By the time Kyle ended up as Megan's foster brother, he was already used to taking a beating and so he took beatings repeatedly to protect Megan. It is why his brother in law staggers to understand why a man like Kyle would be abused of beating his wife and child.

The violence against children doesn't end there. Kyle runs into a local preacher who knows a little bit about Kyle's past. When a local child needs an exorcism, the Preacher approaches Kyle in a parking lot in belief that Kyle somehow chased a demon out of his own mother. Kyle is completely resistant to this but decides to help anyway. This is when he sees demon activity for the first time and discovers that somehow, his blood scares them away. Thus begins Kyle's work to cast out demons; he is the Outcast. Kyle begins to visit his comatose mother and for the first time realises that she doesn't hate him and had been possessed. This realisation however leaves him with questions that are in need of answers if he is ever to get his life back.

Make no mistake about this, none of this is easy to read whatsoever. It seems at every point, someone is being abused. Even a good deed leads to violence. When Kyle exercised the demon out of the child, he was in a physical fight with said child which entailed, punching and kicking. Think about that for a moment. A grown man is punching and kicking a child with all of his strength. It is absolutely unrelenting and serves to show how dark and grim this world is.

That being said, within the rhythm of darkness there's a strong element of repetitiveness. It was not necessary to portray the preacher and or the preacher and Kyle performing exorcisms so many times. I've already seen The Exorcist though Kirkman's demon spewed black sludge instead of green and sucked on Kyle like a desperate succubus. This time would have been better spent explaining what Kyle is and how he became this way. Sure, the first volume is all about introducing the characters and the world but it also needs a provide a solid reason for why the set up exists, not dangling it on a carrot, hoping that readers will be curious enough to pick up a second volume.

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Jul 19, 2016 |
I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars.

Here's the blurb: "Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it."

This first volume was a good introduction, but I'm left with a whole lot more questions than answers, and there wasn't anything revealed that seemed to threaten the end of life on Earth.

The artwork was good, appropriate for the story's creepiness. If I see the next volume, I'll probably pick it up. ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 31, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Kirkmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Azaceta, PaulIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Breitweiser, ElizabethColoristsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it.

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