Sam, Alea, and Lyss cannot get access to the space below Outpost Zero, but they’re determined to explore it. What will they find?

Outpost Zero #7 ReviewOUTPOST ZERO #7

Writer: Sean Kelley McKeever
Artist: Alexandre Tefenkgi
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 20, 2019

Previously in Outpost Zero: Mitchell has his first fight, and wins. And we finally meet his sister Maddie, who has been coping with their mom’s death by drugs and avoidance. Neither Maddie nor his dad comes to see his fight. He also feels betrayed by his friends. Alea (and now Lyss) are hanging out with Sam. Sam does not trust Lyss, but she knows the bunkers as well as anyone, and she gets them into places they could not reach before. They find a gap that leads into the Stem, but run out of time for exploration.

TRUST, MISTRUST, AND SECRETS

Finally, in Outpost Zero #7, the team working on getting through the ice breaks through to the surface, dim sunlight, and light snow falling down. Karen, overseeing this, is relieved. We also learn that she’s had someone essentially spying on Sam. Now there’s a discussion topic. I can sympathize that she is essentially his mother now, and she’s worried about him, especially because he’s been pretty depressed. But still he’s almost a young adult by Outpost Zero standards, and she’s spying on him. Is this really appropriate or not? And even if it is, what will his reaction be if he finds out? Nevertheless, he appears to be getting out and doing things with friends.

Sam grudgingly admits to Alea that bringing Lyss into their project was a good idea. There’s another contrast between Sam and Alea. As we know, his parents are both dead. Alea’s are alive, and she almost seems to almost take them for granted. How easy it is to get accustomed to the status quo. But then Sam sees a cleaning bot, and that gives him an idea.

Lyss and Mitchell run into each other. Lyss’ mother is a doctor, and she patched Mitchell up after his fight. He’s healing up really well. But we can tell that he’s feeling left out. He asks Lyss point blank about what the others are up to, but she says that’s not for her to say. It must take something for him to be able to ask her without getting angry, but considering what his family is like, he must also feel that his friends are drifting away from him.

Karen stops by to talk to Doctor Xi, who is dying. He asks about Sam, and we learn that Karen has another secret she’s been keeping from him. She was once in love with his father, and apparently broke up with him because she didn’t want children. Dr. Xi points out that this is a small community – people knew about her relationship. Sam is bound to find out, and he gently mentions that Sam is going to find out, and that she might want to think about what she’s going to say to him.

This is one of the things that is done so well in this book. The characters in it act like people do – they make decisions through their own filters. What seems like the best idea at the time or in their situation may not, from a longer view, be the best decision. But this is what we do all the time. And boy does this set up tensions among people.

Sam figures out how to turn the cleaning bot into an exploratory rover, and how to get it through the grating into the underpinnings of the Outpost. It turns out that much of this area is the genship the arrived on, and compared to the Outpost, it is huge. They feed the rover down to the end of the rope they have, and it still hasn’t reached bottom. Alea let’s go and they listen for the fall – it hits liquid, and they look at the pictures it’s sending back, at least while they’re still clear enough to make something out. And that’s when they see something from under the Outpost.

AN INTIMATE WINDOW INTO PRIVATE LIVES

There’s not a lot of big action in Outpost Zero #7, but that isn’t the centerpiece of the drama. These are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and the art admirably shows the oh-so-human tendency to seek out normalcy even when things are tense. It is all about the subtlety of body language, and this is done incredibly well. I mentioned above about people making decisions that, while they make sense, may not be the best in the long run. It is through the images that we feel the emotions behind the decisions that everyone is making. So much of human communication – and miscommunication – is through our non-verbal signals. These can reveal so much, but the flip side is that we’re often so involved with our own selves that we don’t pay attention well to others.

In a book like this, though, we have the luxury of not being there, of being an observer. We can see all those tells, and we can see when the characters don’t pick up on them. I think that one of the reasons I am so drawn to Outpost Zero is that most everyone’s problems, at their heart, are very familiar ones. People do things that are not unexpected, and we understand them. We feel what they’re going through. And then there’s the ever present threat of the world around them – as though they’re a miniature version of our own world, but with some of the problems maximized. It gives the story a fascinating kind of tension.

BOTTOM LINE:  A KEEN EYE FOR HUMANITY

On the one hand, Outpost Zero #7 is a sci-fi adventure on a fascinating and hostile world. On the other hand, it is a deep exploration into what makes us human. The combination of these is irresistible.

Outpost Zero #7

100%
100%
Irresistible

On the one hand, Outpost Zero #7 is a sci-fi adventure on a fascinating and hostile world. On the other hand, it is a deep exploration into what makes us human. The combination of these is irresistible.

  • Writing
    10
  • Art
    10
  • Coloring
    10
  • User Ratings (1 Votes)
    2.6
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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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