OUTCAST #34 resolves the previous issue's cliffhangers, but gives readers new ones. Meanwhile, Robert Kirkman applies just enough pressure to intensify the "invasion" while leaving room for the next two issues in the arc to add to the story.
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Another Cliffhanger

Robert Kirkman is an expert at the cliffhanger. We see this time and time again in his other series like THE WALKING DEAD, and OUTCAST is no exception. Image Comics’ OUTCAST #33, part 2 of the 5-part “Invasion” arc, ended on two huge ones. First, although Kyle managed to defeat a possessed human who had found the Outcasts’ safe haven, the last image we have of Kyle is of him saying, “Oh God…” Then, to make matters worse, the issue ended with Megan and Daphne trapped in between two police cars and crashing. So OUTCAST #34, released today, is an essential read — at the very least, for the answers that we get.

Demons, Addiction, and Abuse in OUTCAST

Characters Lost And Found

Courtesy of Image Comics

If there’s one thing that reading THE WALKING DEAD has taught me, it’s that Kirkman isn’t afraid to kill central characters. So I was really worried for Megan and Daphne when I saw OUTCAST #34 open with the crash and Daphne telling a bloodied and unresponsive Megan to wake up. We soon learn that Daphne escapes before the cops (who are working for the enemy) get to the car. Sadly, she can’t help Megan escape because she is unconscious and unmovable. Kirkman could let Megan’s disappearance play out over several issues but instead he shows us what has happened to her by issue-end.

Poor Megan. She’s been through a lot. Demonic possession — both her own and her husband, Mark’s — and then Mark’s subsequent paralysis. Now she’s stuck in the hospital, recuperating from the car crash, and right in the enemy’s clutches. But Tusk won’t kill her … at least not yet. She has the one piece of information that he wants, the location of her brother. So he presents her with a choice: Either she tell him Kyle’s location or he will make the demons go inside of her again. In other words, she has to choose between saving herself and saving the world. We don’t see her answer, at least not yet. (Another cliffhanger.)

Michonne Reunites with Her Daughter in THE WALKING DEAD #177

Fewer New Faces, More Plot Development

Courtesy of Image Comics

During the 10 or so issues leading up to OUTCAST #33, Kirkman was adding characters to the OUTCAST world in breakneck pace. We met Kyle’s father, Simon; Tusk, Kyle’s biggest threat to date; more Outcasts, like Daphne and Jennifer (found deceased); and Reverend Anderson’s long-lost son, Matthew. And that’s not even naming all of them. Kirkman had to add these faces to populate and broaden the OUTCAST world. For example, Sidney was getting pretty old (literally) as a villain, making Tusk a nice change. Tusk is a man who gets things done, even if that means cutting the tongue out of a safe house keeper who had too many excuses. Adding new characters also helped set the stage for the war between Outcasts and merged beings that ultimately will come. Now both sides have quite ample armies.

In OUTCAST #34, the wheels created by adding these characters get put to motion. Take, for example, Matthew, who showed up at the end of OUTCAST #32, the first issue in the “Invasion” arc. In OUTCAST #34, we learn that Matthew’s timely arrival was Tusk’s design. Personally, that reveal wasn’t a huge surprise, but it’s probably not meant to be. The mystery is how exactly Tusk will use Matthew and how both men — father and son — will respond. This plot line might lead to some deeper character development of Anderson. Sure, we’ve already seen him come a long way. I mean, who would imagine that he’d go from the kindly reverend to someone who can butcher Sidney, spilling out his intestines. But now in OUTCAST #34, we see that this act of murder (was it murder?) was really just one step towards him becoming a man of action. In this issue, he’s putting up a fence, after all.

Enter Oblivion in Robert Kirkman’s OBLIVION SONG #1

The Art of Emotions

Courtesy of Image Comics

Paul Azaceta’s art is spot-on, as always in OUTCAST. His mastery at showing emotions really comes through in this issue. Together, Azaceta’s drawings and Kirkman’s really start to flesh out characters who otherwise are pretty background. Take Mark, for example. In OUTCAST #33, we started to learn that he’s not as content and accepting of his injury as he seems to be. Now, in OUTCAST #34, Mark’s frustration comes through even in panels where he doesn’t speak. After his daughter tells him, “But what can you do, Daddy? You can’t even walk,” his voiceless expression is just painful. He doesn’t answer. He can’t because his daughter has voiced the helplessness he feels at not being able to save his wife.

OUTCAST #34: Final Thoughts

This issue manages to conclude OUTCAST #33’s cliffhangers while still leaving enough loose ends to keep readers wondering and the story moving. Will Megan reveal the location of the safe haven? How will Tusk use Matthew and how will Anderson respond? There are only two more issues in this story arc so expect some answers soon.

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