Comics Features

REVIEW: Descending Outlands #1

Written by Scott Meridew

What the hell is going on? This is the second time that I’ve been given a science fiction comic book to review which I’ve found to be rather good! I’ve worked hard to build up a reputation as a curmudgeonly, sceptical fan-boy who verbally bludgeons anything that falls short of my impossibly high standards. I can’t keep admitting that things are good! People will think I’ve gone soft! DC have already been sending me insulting letters after I admitted to liking Arrow. Where does it end?

Try as I might though, I can’t help but admit I like this comic. The art is action packed, the story fairly interesting and the characters seem to have a good vibe with each other. It’s not perfect though. There are a few things that I’m not keen on, as we shall soon see.

So what’s the comic all about? Well, it centres around a group of criminals flying around the galaxy in a spaceship finding a mysterious girl with strange powers in a crate who FIREFLY! Yeah, sounds familiar doesn’t it? There are a disturbing amount of similarities between this and Firefly, a show whose theme song I play to send me to sleep every night as I softly weep. It’s really off putting. Still, if you’re gong to rip off anything, rip off something good, as my Grandmother once said to me just as her mind started to go. In any case,  I’ll try to judge this comic by its own merits.

We start with a man named Renatus being interrogated by the military. Only he seems to know way more confident than he ought to be. He asks his interrogator about something called Project Isis. When he isn’t given any answers he easily breaks free and kills his captors. As intros go, this was pretty awesome. Great start, comic! Whaddya  got for us next?

We then go on to… chapter two? Okay… the comic is divided into chapters… and chapter one has a different artist than the rest. Huh. Okay. I can deal with that. Chapter two shows the crew of the spaceship Rodger Young (And yet on the website they call it the Everett Young. I’m… I’m confused.) stealing some strange cargo that is revealed to contain the mysterious girl we talked about earlier. And here’s where things get weird. The introduction these characters have is a strange mixture of bad and good.

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Nate (The captain of the Everett Young who looks disturbingly like Nathan Fillion. At least to me.) and Coleridge (His second in command) seem to have a good rapport, with them trading fun insults and generally bantering as they steal the cargo. Then things get a little worse when we meet Church (The pilot of the Young) who seem to be… plugged into the ship? How does that work? Things get even more worse, when we are introduced to Gideon and Nicola, the two female crew members. I honestly can’t remember a single defining character trait about either of them. I suppose it’s a bit unfair to ask that every single character be given development as it’s only the first issue, but still! You were doing so well!

They debate what to do with the mysterious girl, who can project energy from her hands just like the man called Renatus in the beginning, and decide to set a course for the Outlands! Dun dun duuuuuun! So is Descending Outlands any good? Well, yeah. I had a lot of fun reading it and I want to see which direction it goes, so I guess that qualifies it as a good comic. There are a few things that need to be addressed though.

Number one: Cut it out with the Firefly crap. I love Firefly, but this isn’t SUPPOSED to be Firefly. Be your own thing goddammit! Number two: Expand the characters! I had to go to the website for this series to get a more detailed explanation of who these guys are, and if I weren’t doing a review on them, then I probably wouldn’t have bothered. On the one hand, it’s good that they didn’t hand us lengthy character exposition ad nauseam, but just a little bit of explanation as to who these guys are would go a long way! Lastly, number three:………. okay, I don’t have anything for number three. Never mind. My bad.

But enough about the bad stuff, what’s good about the comic? The art is superb. Plain and simple. There’s a lot of action, a lot of really cool character designs and plenty of other appealing visuals. The illustrations for chapter one was done by Alvaro De Cossio with the subsequent chapters were done by Paul Oliveira, and both are just outstanding. If I had to pick a favourite, I’d go for Alvaro De Cossio but that’s just a personal preference. But where the comic really shines is in it’s dialogue. Shaun Dobie‘s writing is fun and energetic. There are a few moments when it’s kind of obvious he’s going for a Joss Whedon-ish feel (It’s a conspiracy I tells ya!), but honestly, those moments are few and far between. I still like it.

Overall (And continuing with the Joss Whedon comparisons), this comic is almost Agent’s of Shield: The Comic. Mediocre start, but endless potential for improvement. It’s a decent foundation for a great comic series and I look forward to seeing it soar to greater heights. I’d recommend you read a copy and visit the website at http://www.descendingoutlands.com/.

 

What did YOU think of Descending Outlands? Was it a super space story or a flagrant Firefly… what’s another word for rip off and begins with “F”? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter! Meanwhile, I’m going to consult my thesaurus. Swindle? Nope. Infringement? Close, but not quite. Damn, this is going to take a while.  

About the author

Scott Meridew