Halloween is the one time of year when it’s appropriate, if not expected, to revisit all the movies, books and comics responsible for many childhood nightmares. While 2021 has undoubtedly been an excellent year for new horror comics, sometimes you need to go back and enjoy a series that’s had some time to settle and age like a fine, if not horrifically bloody wine. This year, the reason I sleep with the lights on is Outcast, which is basically what you’d get if The Walking Dead went to church.
Created by legendary comic book writer Robert Kirkman (Invincible; Oblivion Song; The Walking Dead) and artist Paul Azaceta (Graveyard of Empires; Punisher Noir; Spider-Man: The Gauntlet) for Image Comics (Paper Girls; Killadelphia; The Department of Truth), comes Outcast, a dark yet enthralling supernatural horror about childhood trauma, demonic possession, and a member of the cloth.
Outcast is set within a small town in West Virginia and revolves entirely around Kyle Barnes, the one man who just wants to be left alone. Ever since Kyle can remember, he has been forced to witness and endure the horror of those he loves most in the world becoming possessed by demons.
I’m not talking about the cool “look at me! I can float above the bed!” kind of demons either. I’m talking about the mouth-frothing, bile spewing, “watch me turn my head all the way around” before I kill you kind of demons.
If you thought attracting demons was bad enough, imagine having no one believe you while your entire life crumbles around you. All of this causes Kyle to become a social pariah and a shut-in, trying to do his best to not relive the demons of his past.
When a seemingly ordinary child in the community starts exhibiting some significant demon-esque qualities, the local Reverend calls on Kyle to help and together, the two of them start down a path littered with scary questions and even more harrowing answers.
One of the biggest draws to Outcast for me personally was how grounded the story felt while reading. There is absolutely no reason for a demonically posed child to feel commonplace or realistic for me, yet it did. I never sat back and questioned anything I was reading or seeing on the page, undoubtedly due to the genuinely remarkable craftsmanship and dynamic connection between Kirkman and Azaceta.
During Outcast, there was at no point a divide between story and art; instead, they remained connected in a way that one was inseparable from the other. I didn’t go into Outcast as a Robert Kirkman fan, and yet now, after reading it, I can’t imagine that a time when I wasn’t.
While the religious horror sub-genre isn’t something I would usually find intriguing, especially when it’s a slow burn, Outcast was utterly engaging all the way through. The religious elements truly added to the creep factor, compelling me (no pun intended) to keep turning the page until there were no more.
At the same time, I doubt that Outcast will be a comic for everyone, however, it is a good, thought-provoking read for anyone looking for a supernatural horror about facing the demons that live inside us all. And let’s be honest, can Kirkman ever disappoint?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had an absolute fascination with all things that dare to go bump in the night. So it’s only to be expected that I would fall in love with Outcast almost before I turned the first page. Outcast is best described as Supernatural meets Midnight Mass and is a comic that is best enjoyed within arms reach of some holy water (read wine).
If I’ve managed to win you over with the story of Outcast, but you’re not a comic person (you know who you are), then you’re in luck. Outcast was turned into an absolutely fantastic TV Show that aired via Cinemax for two seasons and covered pretty much the entire comic book run and is perfect to binge over this Halloween season.
Want to grab this supernatural trip through small-town horror for yourself? Remember to head over to Critters and Comics or click here. Outcast is available To collect as either 48 Single Issues, 4 Deluxe Hardcovers, or 8 Trade Paperbacks. If you don’t know what any of that means, but you’d like to, click on our commonly used comic terms only post here.