After bringing vibrancy to other creators’ indie comics, Shaun Dobie, colourist of the the Red Mask from Mars, has returned to his own book Descending Outlands in time for this weekend’s Melksham Comic Con which will see the debut of issue 3 of his interstellar caper. But can Dobie make another out of this world issue, or will it fall back down to Earth with a bump?
Publisher: Evil Kat Studios
Writer: Shaun Dobie
Artist: Paul Oliveria/Dave Tinto (Pencils), Michael Angelo Arbon (Flatter), Shaun Dobie (Colorist), Vince Hunt (Letterer)
Our rating: [star rating=”4″]
The third issue of Descending Outlands follows on from the prior two with Nate Avery and his crew of the Everett Young continuing their mantra of “Get in. Get out. Get paid”. All the while attempting to stay one step ahead of the Fountain, the evil govenment agency looking to reacquire Isi, the crews enigmatic new member. However, things are not looking good for the gang in the Outlands on that front as, whether it is meeting with a former client, taking on a simple bank job or even just reminiscing about how the band came together, Nate and his friends just can’t seem to shake the oppressive authorities, who will stop at nothing to get back what is theirs.
While the first two issues showed some growing pains typical of a new comic, writer Shaun Dobie seems to have learned from his mistakes and evolved to produce an entertaining and engrossing read. Starting with a recap page which is inch perfect and neatly fills in the blanks of the past installments for any first time readers. The plot continues to have a distinctly Serenity feel in its execution, although this issues has less of it as Dobie moves this world toward a more conspiracy theory like tone, which gives it a breath of fresh air and a more interesting feel. Also, the books breakdown to three distinct, though slightly connected, stories helps keep the plot tight and allows readers to digest this detailed world in small doses. While the cast are still written in Serenity-like archetypes, in this issue at least, they are definitely much more fleshed out. The opening story of Nate’s dream really helps fill out some of the Everett Young’s crew and showing the reasons behind their current life choice.
The art also steps up its game compared to the prior issues with Paul Oliveria taking the role as de facto series artist, producing the first two thirds of the book in a very beautiful style – most notably seen in the first couple of pages showing off the darkness of Nate’s mind. This look is only enhanced within the second chapter by flatter Michael Angelo Arbon, who gives the panels a very gritty look that resembles the 90s infused style of cover artist Chris Imber, especially during the superheroic-like pose of the crew ‘jumping ship’. Of course, the flatting also helps in tying the artwork of fellow penciler Dave Tinto who, while not sharing Oliveria’s smooth lines, still produces solid work with a rougher style that is very in keeping with the tone of the chapter but not disrupting the art of the issue as a whole, giving readers a great sense of consistency.
In a world where all comics are expected to be better than the previous issue, Descending Outlands certainly does this and then some. With tighter writing, enjoyable plots and gorgeous artwork fitting the setting to perfection, this is a title which is more than worth picking up while also offering promise for where the series may end up.