Sam and Alea have followed Steven’s last message of “Follow them down,” and are face to face with an alien! What does it want? Find out in Outpost Zero #13 from Image Comics.
Writer: Sean Kelley McKeever
Artist: Alexandre Tefenkgi
Colorist: Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Editor: Arielle Basich
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 18, 2019
Previously in Outpost Zero: The Outpost is at a crossroads. Jann and Denis have discovered traces of possible life on the planet – which Sam, Alea, and Lyss have actually seen! The small population of the Outpost is focused on survival and not complicating their already difficult lives. The Council apprehends Alea’s parents for flouting their rules. Karen follows Sam and Alea and discovers the breach that leads below the Outpost. Mitchell tries to help Lyss cope with the trauma of seeing the alien – and Lyss decides she wants to see if drugs will help.
SMALL OUTPOST, BIG WORLD
Outpost Zero #13 starts right out with Sam and Alea reeling from a glimpse of the alien. On the surface, Karen goes to see Jann and Denis – but they’re gone and the house looks as though there was a struggle. Arturo has taken them, and Karen confronts him, pulling on her status as Chief of Security to see them. Arturo sticks to his guns – she doesn’t have the authority to do this, and he brushes her off.
Otto, the robot, takes Sam and Alea to a window where they can clearly see the alien swimming in the frigid ocean. It is truly alien, tentacled, oddly textured. Alea finds it disgusting and says it wants to eat them. Otto challenges her with logic – he can’t determine its intent, and he asks her what she’s basing this on. This is terrifically thoughtful. We are so prone to jump to conclusions, often based on appearances or impressions alone, and shortcut any actual analysis. Otto tells Alea to put her hand against the glass. The creature is vibrating, and Otto can tell there are patterns to it and suspects this could be a sort of language.
The Council brings Jann and Denis before the community. Arturo makes a speech about their shared duty, about how they are committed to that community, that the survival of the outpost together, as a whole, is more important than any individual. It’s a fascinating take on how something as idealistic as a communal society can sound, when it is taken to extremes, it can be frightening. They don’t punish Jann and Denis directly, but they destroy their probe and its data. Looking on this from outside, this is horrifying – in the name of survival they’re destroying data that they might need in order to survive. This is looking at things in the short-term as opposed to the long-term – another very human tendency, and one that tends to have negative consequences. Karen catches up with them and quietly takes Jann with her.
Sam and Alea are beneath the Outpost so long that they fall asleep. When they awaken, the creature is gone and Otto tells them it has gone to prepare. How ominous and exciting! But Otto has analyzed the creature’s vibrations and can communicate with it. The creature has been trying to talk with the humans for most of its life, and it wants Sam and Alea to go to a certain airlock to enter the water and talk with it. It will somehow also keep them safe. I like the choice that they talk about this and work up to deciding to go through with it
Meanwhile, Karen and Jann get to the breach in the Outpost, suit up, and start following Sam and Alea. The young people’s comms don’t work – they have to get to them in person. Already Karen is making plans to seal the opening. And, as Lyss experiments with Maddie, Mitchell watches over them and talks about something he once saw, during his first fight, when he was briefly knocked unconscious. He saw himself with Steven, out in the frost, and saw a creature with many limbs take Steven. So what really happened? Is this a hallucination from being knocked out, or did he see something true?
BLUE SKIES AND DEEP EMOTIONS
In Outpost Zero #13, we can see that the carefully constructed façade has cracks. Not just the physical ones that plague the dome, but the cracks in the emotional structure that is keeping the Outpost functioning and not succumbing to the stress of survival. In here, we really see it, although we also see how hard everyone works to control themselves.
I really like the lettering. There are subtle differences in the balloons when people are speaking normally as opposed to when they are talking over the communications system. Otto has an entirely different style. And Maddie and Lyss, on their drug high, have a style that makes their speech seem disconnected from the real world. It’s another great emotional touch to have Mitchell watching out for them, Mitchell, who copes by literally trying to tough everything out, yet still is on the edge.
BOTTOM LINE: PENULTIMATE DRAMA
Outpost Zero #13 is the next to last issue of the series, and it is a doozy! Things have been building slowly, but steadily, and are accelerating toward an ending I don’t think many of us have quite anticipated. Things are getting intense!
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Outpost Zero #13
As the Council of Outpost Zero struggles to suppress the truth, we can see there’s a whole lot of truth to be revealed!