Writer: Sean Kelley McKeever
Artist: Alexandre Tefenkgi
Colourist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Image Comics
From writer Sean Kelley McKeever (Teen Titans, Countdown to Final Crisis) and artist Alexandre Tefenkgi comes a brand new sci-fi story. Outpost Zero, a town built from a generational starship, is the only bastion of humanity on a desolate ice planet. As children become adults, they are expected to help the colony survive no matter what. For Alea and her friends, life is no different, and they do their best to adapt on a world never designed for humans to occupy. However, outside the ship things may be about to change. A storm is returning, one that already ravaged their town, and now may crack their delicate colony wide open. As people seek shelter, a remote survey mission may have found signs of alien life…
Outpost Zero #1 follows the story of Alea, a teenager living in a town that was once a generational starship. Embedded in the ice on an alien world, everyone living there must do their part just for the colony to survive. Teenagers pass an aptitude test and are assigned the best role for them. Alea is impatient to join the Discovery Team like her parents, eager to explore outside the safety of the colony dome. We are introduced to her friends, including engineering student Steven, shy and awkward Sam who has a fast-track into the Security Team, and Lyss who shows us what happens when you do not meet any of the aptitude targets. A good amount of this issue is dedicated to the dialogue between this group of teenagers, showing us the relationships between them, hints of their family situation, and how they have adapted to living this unusual life. Although we have only just met the characters, none of the reasonably large (and diverse) cast seem to slide into stereotypes, and there are hints of more complex things to come. The writing by McKeever stands out here, and the dialogue is never boring. There is also a light commentary on whether one should do what society wants you to, or whether you should be something different. This issue also leaves us with several mysteries, some more personal, like the hologram of a seemingly long-gone girl Sam keeps watching, the choices it leads him to, and the more cosmic, such as the hints of alien life in the ice, and the return of an ominous storm that threatens the survival of everyone. There are some interesting world-building elements in this story, such as hints about the other ships reaching their destination, and how some pieces of technology have to be re-discovered. The issue does unfortunately end on a somewhat abrupt, and slightly confusing note, which derails it a little, and does not answer many questions. It does, however, set up story threads for further instalments.
The art by Tefenkgi is bold, clear and excels at showing us the expressions of the characters in dialogue-heavy scenes. Vistas of the story world, such as parts of the colony contrast nicely with the desolation of ‘The Frost’ outside. The cover of this issue, also by Tefenkgi, sets up a nice contrast between the characters, their world in the colony, and the ominous storm on the horizon. Beaulieu on colour duty uses a bright, varied palette, ensuring panels stand out, and important scenes are highlighted. Ariana Maher provides lettering for this issue and manages to ensure the large amount of dialogue is easily read and never obtrusive.
Outpost Zero #1 is a character-driven story, that introduces a large cast, and hints of larger, more ominous things to come. It does end on an almost hasty note, and does not answer some burning questions, but hopefully these loose threads will be tied up in the future. Outpost Zero #1 is available today.