Creator Shaun Dobie’s Descending Outlands is another recent find for me and I took the chance to catch up on the first three issues of the Evil Kat Studios release.
Billed as an “epic sci-fi tale” it didn’t really take much to convince to try it and the first visuals on the covers were a clear indication of the potential quality that was being aimed for by the creative team. It follows Nate Avery and the crew of his ship, the Roger Young, as they take the minimum-risk jobs that should bring them an easy pay-day. If only things were that simple. Shaun writes & colours each of the issues and is joined on lettering by Vince Hunt who he worked with on The Red Mask from Mars.
Issue #1 – Chapter 1-3 with art by Alvaro De Cossio & Paul Oliveria
We’re introduced to the crew and the main overshadowing plot-line that sees a mysterious government Project code-named ISIS come into the spotlight. The crew’s latest smash-n-grab brought them a surprising new cargo which only draws them deeper into a conspiracy that they don’t really want to get sucked into. A great opening setup from Shaun helps introduce a cracking roster of characters and some glorious art from Alvaro & Paul help capture the expanse of space while focusing on the intricate elements of the unfolding plot.
Issue #2 – Chapter 4-6 with art by Samir Simao & Paul Oliveria
The crew’s run of bad luck seems to be fading into the darkness of space as their plans seem to be running a lot smoother but that ends up being a nice false front for a deepening story of double-crosses & a wider need to pull in as many favours as they can to get the job done. Shaun adds more characters into the mix but his slick balance between all the stories makes this an increasingly impressive title. The change of art is a bit more obvious on some of these chapters but there’s still enough of a consistency to maintain the strong groundwork from issue #1.
Issue #3 – Chapter 7-9 with art by Paul Oliveira & Dave Tinto
An issue with more flashbacks and much more focus on the team dynamic means this one strays away from feeling like filler and steps up the momentum. More action, more back story on those characters and Shaun is making sure that there are still enough surprises being introduced that its really breaking into it’s stride – so much so that the last panel left me wishing that fourth issue was already out. Probably the most consistent art-wise from Paul & Dave and action is punctuated just right and the team interactions seem just as significant.
Descending Outlands ends up being a surprise package and one that i may otherwise have missed but luckily for me these first three issues appeared at just the right time. The story flows with more than enough twists and turns to separate this from your run-of-the-mill heist story but instead adds the quality characterisation that we’ve only ever seen from the best sci-fi examples. It ends up feeling like the crew from Red Dwarf have been injected with BSG sensibilities and that alone makes Shaun’s world one that needs to be shouted about. The quality art team he’s formed to pull the project together ends up being in direct contrast with the crew of the Roger Young on the pages as they pull their collective conscience together to work as a well-oiled machine. Is Descending Outlands good?…..well NO, it’s much better than that and that fourth issue just can’t come quick enough.