Out There #1 (July, 2001)
Writer – Brian Augustyn
Pencils – Humberto Ramos
Inks – Sandra Hope
Colors – Studio F
Letters – Ryan Cline
Edits – Scott Dunbier
Cover Price: $2.50
Got an interesting one today… a bit strange too. Dare I say, it’s a little bit “out there”.
I apologize, that was horribly lazy (it’s Sunday, please forgive me)… let’s just pop into the spoilery synopsis!
We open with a young woman walking down an empty street. Crying and confused, she calls out to her parents… or anyone who might hear her… but the streets appear to be completely abandoned. Suddenly, she is overcome with little beasties… and before she knows it, she’s whisked away to a demonic landscape where she is met by something calling itself Draedalus. Upon getting a closer look, the girl sees her parents (and a lot of other ordinary folks) just floating in the ether, and being dumped to the ground by the Big D.
Turns out… this was all a dream! The young woman, who we learn is named Jess, gets up and gets ready for school.
Speaking of school, that’s our next stop. It’s here we meet a young genius named Mark Wexler, as he goes about his usual morning torment at the hands of some jock bullies. After having his glasses swiped and being shoved to the ground, the Zach the Quarterback rolls in to tell his teammates to leave the kid alone.
Though he doesn’t seem to really care all that much for young Master Wexler, Zach tells the team that they’re not going to act as bullies. Ya see, if they wind up getting suspended, they’ll be off the team! Just then a… bearded girl runs up and starts hugging on Zach! Okay, I think this is just a coloring/shading snafu, but tell me it doesn’t look like she has a beard! Zach looks up to the top of the building, and could swear he saw one’a dem li’l beasties.
We jump across town to the Mayor’s Mansion, where a big ol’ real estate deal is in the works some of the VIPs of El Dorado City including Zach’s father. After signing on the dotted-line, the Mayor retreats to a side room to tell some beasties that the can inform their Master that she’s got things well at hand.
Back at school, Jess has a contentious run-in with Zach’s no-longer bearded girlfriend, Casey. Tonight’s the night of the Harvest Dance, and the mean girls are making fun of Jess because ain’t nobody wants her there, or some such. Jess promises to be a dark cloud at that dance… and declares that she’ll rain all over the “bimbo parade”. Let’s… choose not to take that remark literally, okay?
Later, we rejoin li’l Markie at his father’s CPA offices. Papa Wexler insists his son looks “dashing” and that he will have a great time at the Harvest Fling-Ding-Thing. Naturally, Mark is wearing one of those stereotypical baby blue “bad tuxes”… which is also like three sizes too large.
We shift scenes to a small church. A woman is sweeping the porch, and notes that it’s gotten a little windy today. She wonders aloud if this might be due to “them”.
Later into the evening, a pair of drug-dealers enter El Dorado City. Their dialogue here is… woof. They talk about franchising their enterprise… with a website. Double-You, Double-You, Double-You… dot… Smack… dot… com (which is something I just now typed into my browser… but it didn’t take me anywhere. These guys might still have a shot at the domain!). Anyhoo, they’re pulled over by the po-lice, where they’re met with a vulgar abuse of authority by an Officer. Vulgar, in that… he calls forth a bunch’a beasties to feastie on the fellas.
Finally, it’s time for the Harvest Dance, and Jess has in fact decided to show up… lookin’ only as she can look. Total style shift from her usual school attire… which catches some of her classmates off-guard. Li’l Markie watches as she shoves some goofball to the ground, and realizes… he’s quite smitten. He also, uh, sees one’a the beasties… he refers to this as his “Friendly Neighborhood Hallucination”, which tells us seein’ these things is a usual occurrence for the kid.
Inside, Jess bumps into Casey… and they… compliment each other’s dresses! How ’bout that? The Harvest Dance bringin’ people together! Zach the Quarterback also feasts his eyes on Jess… and gets all homina-homina-homina… which sets Casey off somethin’ fierce. She storms out, and Zach follows.
Once in the hallway, Casey and Zach start making out against the lockers… hard. Maybe they’ve got some sort of reverse-cuckold fetish or something. I ain’t gonna judge… whatever works for ’em! Anyhoo, while they’re bumping and grinding, they spy… say it with me… one’a dem beasties out the window!
Li’l Markie, proving himself to be rather a perv, might be watching these two making out? It isn’t terribly clear if this is happening in exactly the same place. He wonders aloud where Jess is at… and it just so happens, she was standing behind him… watching him perv out? As Jess goes to confront the kid, they both see… dem beasties!
Outside in the parking lot, one of the football players is waiting… presumably for those drug dealers we just saw get eaten. He’s confronted instead by Principal Hodges, who informs him that his “package” ain’t never gonna arrive. Hodges then… shoots the kid dead! Two of “dem beasties” pop outta the Principal’s chest… leaving him one bewildered child murderer!
We wrap up with the revelation that Jess, Mark, Casey, and Zach all watched this scene play out… but, what are they gonna do about it?!
This was a lot of fun. It’s been in my collection… jeez, nearly twenty-years… and I’ve never taken a look a look at it til now.
Now, I can’t say that I’ve seen all that many 80’s horror movies, but I’m familiar enough with the conceits and themes… which, this book seems to have in spades. That’s not a knock, or a bad thing in any way. This really takes care in pulling together many of those tropes/cliches, and delivers a really fun (and intriguing) story.
We’ve got the high school setting, which is pretty perfect, and gives Augustyn plenty of opportunity to play into some of the stereotypical/archetypal personalities. We’ve got the “Mean Girl” clique, who are at odds with the sorta-gothy loner. We have a football team full of meatheads and bullies, who defer to their only member who appears to have a “heart of gold”… or, at the very least, a conscience. We have the little nerdy kid with attitude. It’s really nothing we haven’t seen before (or since), but it’s done with such charm and earnestness, that I can’t help but to love it.
El Dorado City definitely has a big secret, as evidenced by the hoi-polois gathering at the Mayor’s Mansion. The beasties have gotten in… and we’re left wondering how many of the VIPs ’round town are willingly in cahoots with them. Their presence, at the very least, is acknowledged a few times here… the kids seem haunted by these “in the corner of their eye” demons on a regular basis… the woman at the church seems to know… and, perhaps the Officer who pulled over the drug dealers as well. It’s clear that the Mayor is aware… and is cooperating.
We get a lot of questions here… and, I’m actually wanting to know more. That doesn’t happen too often for me these days!
Let’s talk art. I know Humberto Ramos can be a bit divisive… but, I’ve always enjoyed his work. This semi-early work is probably some of my favorite Ramos stuff. The characters (outside of the weird-beard coloring goof on Casey), are all really great looking, and stand out from the rest of the crowd. That’s something that usually trips me up when reading a book full of “normal” people. It’s hard to make them look distinct… with maybe a little bit in the way of “cartoonish” identifiers, without making them look like costume shop models. Ya know what I mean? Does that make sense?
Being the horrible pack-rat you know me to be, it may not come as a surprise that I actually still have the Out There Promotional Preview. It’s not much of a Preview, only the first two pages. When I thought about covering book on the site, it was actually the Preview that came to mind first! I figured it would be a quickie article, wherein I’d have to synopsize less than ten pages. When I saw it was only two, I felt like that would’a been a massive cop-out (and, honestly, a disservice to the property).
Here’s a look at the Preview Edition… same cover, with some promo-blurbs:
Inside, it’s the first two pages, featuring Jess’s nightmare (which is why I didn’t include these pages in the main synopsis).
This promo was actually a WildStorm/Cliffhanger! “flip book”… turn this sucker over, and we see Ninja Boy!
We get a two-page preview of this one as well…
Overall… I had much more fun with this than I ever imagined… and, although my WildStorm offerings at the site are some of my least-viewed, I’m tempted to come back and cover the next issue or two. I’d say, if you’re a fan of 80’s horror movies, or light high school drama, this book might be right up your alley. Looks like if you have Comixology Unlimited, this entire series is just waiting to be read!
(Not the) Letters Page: