Buried underneath mountains of ice and snow, the inhabitants of Outpost Zero need to figure out a way to get it melted. Meanwhile, Alea is trying to find out what Sam knows…and why Steven committed suicide. Take the jump for our review of Outpost Zero #3 from Image Comics.
Writer: Sean Kelley McKeever
Artist: Alexandre Tefenkgi
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 5, 2018
Previously in Outpost Zero: The inhabitants grieve Steven’s death even while, under the sunny artificial skies of the dome, they are trying to solve the problem of digging themselves out from under tons of ice. Sam’s mother has found out he was there at the airlock, and he unwittingly told this to Alea as well. He is now caught between his adoptive mother and Alea who both want to know why.
ON THE UNDERCURRENTS OF HUMAN NATURE
The conflicts in Outpost Zero #3 are familiar, even though the setting is exotic. There are the adults in charge, trying to keep their community safe during a natural disaster. There are young people dealing with their own issues and loyalties – friends vs. family vs. community. All of these intersect here.
The issue opens with Sam talking to the Chief, who is also his adoptive mother. Sam got access to the airlock code, which is how Steven got outside. This code is the responsibility of Security Team, which is where Sam is, or was, interning. The Chief pulls all the strings associated with parenthood, and Sam takes refuge in the choice of telling her nothing at all. Meanwhile, when Sam is out and about, Alea follows him. The trouble is that he is always alone, and he doesn’t seem to have any interests, and she cannot find leverage to use against him. He also actively avoids her. The only communication she has had is a note from him saying that what he said was a mistake and asking her not to tell anyone.
The problem of ice over the dome remains. Alea’s mother Jann, on Discovery Team, has an idea to use lasers to carve trenches that give more room for the sun to work at melting the ice. This requires opening the airlock, which is their biggest security risk. There would be less risk with Alea’s father’s plan of heat conduction at the dome, although it would mean the loss of their artificial sky.
Alea finally gets Sam to meet with her. He tells her he got the airlock code when the Chief used it to let her parents out onto the surface. Discovery Team is not popular at Outpost Zero, to the point where it wouldn’t take much of an excuse to disband it entirely. Sam won’t tell her about Steven, and Alea can’t tell anyone about Sam without harming her parents, and her own future.
Likewise, the dome is getting more stress fatigue. The Council has to make a decision about what to try. Discovery Team is making their case to the Council; the Chief wants her assistant to get them to back down. Alea then visits the Chief, who at first thinks her parents sent her. When she asks about Sam, the Chief thinks she’s overreaching. Then Alea reveals that she knows about the airlock. She hints that she could start a rumor about Sam opening the airlock, but this doesn’t turn out as she expected, as the Chief directly threatens retaliation against her parents. After Alea leaves, she sees the Chief go out too, presumably looking for Sam. She makes a split second decision to look into Sam’s room herself and there finds the projection device.
BLUE SKIES AND IMPENDING DOOM
Outpost Zero #3 continues to show us a world of disconcerting contrasts. We know they are buried in ice, yet the artificial sky still moves from day to night, and gives us sunny days and blue skies that we know couldn’t be further from the truth. What a metaphor! As humans, we live with comfortable lies all the time, and we even need some of those to survive without becoming overwhelmed. As the situations here become more tense, the carefree appearance of Outpost Zero feels more and more uncomfortable.
There are nice contrasts (and startling parallels) between the world of the adults and the world of the near-adults. Each story is as emotional and intense as the other, even though one is about survival for the entire community and the other is more personal. As usual, everyone is expressive and you can read the little conflicts that show up on people’s faces.
BOTTOM LINE: FAMILIAR CONFLICTS IN A FUTURISTIC SETTING
The story in Outpost Zero #3 is as much about youth growing up and coming into conflict with adults/parents as it is about people in conflict with the world around them. This is not a story full of dramatic fights, yet the tension is palpable. We feel like flies on the wall, hearing all these private conversations that only a few people at Outpost Zero even know about. Even so, we still don’t know everything that is driving people’s choices.