Book review: Outcast, Vol. 4: Under Devil’s Wing

Outcast, Vol. 4: Under Devil's WingOutcast, Vol. 4: Under Devil’s Wing by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So we remember what I said about the first volume of this series? And the second? And the third? Again, we can spin it out to the fourth: developing, slowly, with enough subtlety in the presentation to keep me reading.

This trade brings us pretty much up to date: at the time of writing there’s been four additional issues, so we’re still two off another collection. The show based on the property has been and gone, and is seems Kirkman is interested in keeping the slow-burn nature we’ve become accustomed to thus far. But this volume seems to feature more explaining than previous collections, and ramps up the fuck-is-all-the-town-involved? weirdness level.

That’s not to say there’s a lack of violence in the work. The series has featured a number of scenes illustrating the physical, confronting effects of exorcism, as well as some Kirkman-standard arsekicking. The author’s fixation on bloody mouths continues apace, too, you’ll note.

I particularly liked the nod towards the Joker found in some of the colouring used to describe Sidney’s hacking: it fits with what we know of him – mysterious and ever-grinning.

And of course, the artwork remains superb. There’s all manner of small-town call-outs (the watching owl, a Twin Peaks staple, was a nice touch) and there’s the sense we’re inhabiting a fully realised world. Time is taken on what in film would be establishing shots: where nothing happens, apart from a deepening of our sense of immersion.

Yep, I’m still into it for this alone, even if the story isn’t moving too much. I guess this is what happens from reading a story in progress as opposed to something that’s completed.

I still have hope for the series: I think it’ll ramp up from here on in, as the stakes have been revealed now – this is a bigger-than-Jesus affair and the potential cost encompasses a small town’s entire spiritual health. There is less room for an out now: more of the mythology and history is unveiled in this volume, and it seems the author’s pointing us towards an unavoidable battle.

But if it doesn’t lead to that?

My Goodreads profile is here.

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