Mania Grade: A+
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- Art Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A
- Text/Translatin Rating: A-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 192
- ISBN: 1-9331-6432-8
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
- Series: Outcast
Outcast Vol. #01
By Ben Leary
March 05, 2008
Release Date: September 30, 2007
© Seven Seas Entertainment
Writer/Artist:Vaun Wilmott / Edward Gan.
Adapted by:N/AWhat They Say
There are fallen angels who live among us; who torment and tempt every person they encounter, looking for a weakness to exploit. Their sole purpose is to destroy lives wherever they can and Riley, a vulnerable girl with a tragic past, seems to be the perfect target... Or is she?The Review
A young girl awakens from a nightmare. Taking up her diary, she walks out to the balcony and writes three words: "No more fear." It's a first-class beginning to a first-class tale of suspense.
The Girl, Riley, has a little more reason than usual for being afraid. She's an Ohio girl living in New York. Her parents are dead. She lives in an old building reportedly haunted by a half-dozen ghosts. There are a couple more, but to go any further would be telling. Up till the moment she defies her nightmare, she's been living in her grandmother's apartment, hiding from the world. But now she's decided to go back to school - which is not so much a first step as being thrown in at the deep end.. Unlike a lot of comics that take place in school, this one takes a gritty look at what inner city high schools are really like, complete with cliques, thugs, gangs and metal detectors (not that the metal detectors do any good, of course). The only thing missing is the drug dealers in the bathroom - though the bathrooms do have their own dangers, as we soon see. Fortunately for Riley, she finds a couple of allies in Junior, a boy who may be older than he looks, and certainly acts it, and her seat-mate Kit, who takes the new kid under her wing and introduces her to enough of the right people to get the bulls-eye off her forehead.
Meanwhile Riley's grandmother is keeping herself busy with archaeological research. She's looking into an ancient secrect society; but you'll have to read for yourself what sort of society it is. I'll only say that it's nice to have a secret society that isn't all bad guys, for a change.
So much for the plot. But in a suspense story it's nearly always the style that counts, and style is something this book has in spades. Visually it's an excellent piece of work. Character designs have a smooth, attractive look; backgrounds are detailed and give a good sense of place. Most importantly, the layout is paced perfectly, whether teasing out information, giving Riley some moments to herself, or cranking things up to keep you turning pages as quickly as possible. It also makes clever use of inserts to bring out background details that you might otherwise miss.
This story had me under its spell from the first pages and I was never off the edge of my seat for a moment. I can't remember any other book that was able to generate such suspense at the very beginning and sustain it all the way through the volume; even during the lighter scenes there's a feeling in the back of your mind that the clouds could break at any moment. But the most suspenseful part of all is the finish: it dangles you over a cliff by ending at the precise moment when the parallel storylines suddenly bend towards each other. The hook is in deep. I only hope Seven Seas can announce volume two before it can work its way out. At least while we wait we have nearly 20 pages of nice concept art to help us speculate on what might have been.
Very highly recommended.Note on the age rating: The Outcast is quite a bit rougher than the average catch-all 13+ title. As noted above, the school scenes are pretty hard-edged and have one instance of bloody but non-fatal brutality, along with some innuendo and generally sleazy types. There's also some disturbing imagery during a dream, and a brief panel of shower nudity. A 16+ would be more suitable.