OUTPOST ZERO #1 BY SEAN KELLEY McKEEVER, ALEXANDRE TEFENKGI, AND JEAN-FRANCOIS BEAULIEU
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
OUTPOST ZERO #1's premise about teenagers coming of age in a planet they hardly know feels like a familiar story. However, once it gets going, the creators offer enough intrigue to grab and hold a reader's attention. Its greatest strengths are Sean Kelley McKeever's diverse teenage cast, the excellent art from Alexandre Tefengki, and the wonderful coloring of Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
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OUTPOST ZERO #1 tells the story of a small human colony on a frozen planet. Teenagers Alea, Steven, Sam, Mitchell, and Lyss are maturing into adulthood and are deciding what they want to do professionally. Then a mysterious natural disaster, known as “the cell,” threatens Outpost Zero. What is “the cell”? What lies in the Frost? Are there any life forms beyond the biodome that shields the colony? Skybound Entertainment’s first young adult comic sets up a good mystery with a diverse cast of characters. However, the story feels familiar because it’s ARCHIE (2015) meets SNOWPIERCER for teens. Despite that, this new series by Sean Kelley McKeever, Alexandre Tefenkgi, and Jean-Francois Beaulieu is definitely worth reading.

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A Tale of Two Generations

The story of OUTPOST ZERO #1 is split between two points of views: the teenagers and the adults. Immediately, Sean Kelley McKeever introduces us to a message from a 17 year old girl named Linda. Linda is the last person from the Genship Ancestry Project, a group of humans who set out to seek new planets to live in. As the message plays, Sam watches it in the darkness of his room.

Then the action shifts to Alea and Steven as the former attempts to defy gravity and float mid air. While Alea manages to float, she eventually falls to the ground and suffers an injury. Later we meet some of the adults such as Alea’s parents, Jann and Dennis, and the colony’s leader, Karen. In fact, Jann and Dennis are explorers who work for Karen as part of the discovery team. Karen sends Jann and Dennis on a mission to find signs of life in the Frost.

OUTPOST ZERO #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

As OUTPOST ZERO #1 introduces more characters, we learn more about the titular setting and the context.  Namely, there’s the phenomenon called “the cell” that has hit the colony in the past. In addition, that same phenomenon is threatening Outpost Zero again. Ultimately, Jann and Dennis return from their mission in the Frost. They warn the entire Outpost of an impending natural disaster. One of the best things that McKeever does is that he allows silent panels to exist before the cliffhanger hits. McKeever provides enough intrigue to leave readers wanting to know what happens next.

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The Teens and Adults of the Outpost

In OUTPOST ZERO #1, Sean Kelley McKeever crafts believable characters with flaws that anyone can relate to. Notably, Steven and Alea’s relationship is well done because they are best friends. In addition, there’s the shy and stoic Sam who’s a loner. Sam is on the security team as an intern but he carries a dark secret that he confides in Steven. Finally the spunky Lyss and the cool but rude Mitchell round out the diverse cast of the teens. In fact, McKeever makes sure that every teen gets a chance in the spotlight as the dialogue is well-written.

OUTPOST ZERO #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

Conversely, the adults receive some good characterization. One of the best examples is Sam’s mother, Karen, who is the chief scientist at the Outpost. Refreshingly, McKeever writes Karen as a strong leader who unfortunately is always busy with work. But Karen carries an air of mystery that makes reader’s curious to learn more about her past. Some of the other adults represent the jobs that the teenagers will ultimately do. For example, Lyss’ mother serves as the Outpost’s doctor. McKeever points out that the next generation plays a vital role in ensuring the survival of the Outpost.

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The Art of OUTPOST ZERO #1

The frozen world is brought to life thanks to Alexandre Tefengki’s expressive art. Tefengki’s art is reminiscent of Fiona Staples’ work in ARCHIE. Indeed, Tefengki does a great job contrasting life inside the Outpost with the Frost’s frozen landscape just outside. Within the Outpost, there are farms and a town hall where the colonists gather. Conversely, the Frost is in a constant blizzard state and requires explorers to wear a hybrid parka-space suit. In short, Tenfengki successfully makes the world of OUTPOST ZERO #1 feel lived-in, with panels flowing together quite well.

OUTPOST ZERO #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

The coloring of OUTPOST ZERO #1 by Jean-Francois Beaulieu is also excellent. Notably, his colors takes us on a journey which begins in the darkness of Sam’s room. He uses bright colors during the day time in order to show the lush greens and industrial blue hues of the Outpost. This gives the Outpost a sense of vibrancy, making it feel alive. Beaulieu also does a great job capturing the coldness of the Frost with the blue color palette. However, his colors hits a high note when Jann and Dennis return from the Frost. Beaulieu colors Dennis and Jann in red and orange with a blue screen in the background. This makes Dennis and Jann pop over the blue, drawing readers attention. Overall, Beaulieu’s vibrant colors makes Tenfengki’s artwork feel alive and reinforces the lived-in feel.

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Closing Thoughts on OUTPOST ZERO #1

Overall, this issue explores themes such as existentialism and the possibility of alien life. While the story isn’t breaking new ground, the characters are interesting to watch. Plus the overall mystery provides enough intrigue that it’s worth checking out. Lastly, the art and colors are a treat for readers because it captures the dual worlds of the Outpost and the Frost. This comic is all around wonderful.

OUTPOST ZERO #1 releases on July 11th. You can pre-order it on Comixology or find a local comic shop here.

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