I am a huge fan of Kirkman – not because of The Walking Dead, but because of his incredible work on Invincible. That being said, I am still
patiently awaiting a new installment.
The volume marks the debut of Kyle Barnes, a man who lives in isolation and is constantly dodging visits from his sister Megan. The volume defines itself in its eeriness at the very beginning as a child complains of hunger with blood around his mouth. His mother calls the Reverend to perform an exorcism. During his begrudged outing with Megan, the Reverend approaches Kyle and the Reverend views this encounter as a sign. It is revealed that the Reverend facilitated an exorcism on Kyle’s mother, and because of this, he asks Kyle for his aid. Continuously referred to as the “outcast,” Kyle’s blood causes pain for demons. True to the volume’s title, darkness surrounds Kyle. His mother was possessed, his wife was possessed, and it could be speculated that his daughter was as well. He is looked down upon because others believe that he beat his wife and daughter whereas it is suggested that he was simply trying to remove the demons from them. The volume ends with the appearance, of who seems to be, the antagonist warning the Reverend that him and Kyle are coming too close to forbidden knowledge.
After writing this quick summary, it occurs to me: nothing really happened in this volume. I understand that it is an origin story but to produce the above-mentioned plot in 152 pages is well a tad underwhelming. Part of me believes that the plot is about to pick up in Volume 2, while the other part of me is praying that I will not be short-changed twice. I love Kirkman because of his constant plot twists, so perhaps I am just holding him to high expectations. . .
I read this volume in an undisturbed sitting because it was a simple yet enjoyable read. It reminded me of the darker tone that often underlies Invincible and a bit of Supernatural because of the plot. A protagonist that seems to be plagued by demons and is trying to discover how they fit into the grander scheme. The constant reference to “outcast” and the artwork help evoke an ominous theme. Kirkman has a talent for creating severely flawed heroes – and I love that. The Reverend participates in nightly card games gambling and drinking to the point that he wakes up with a hangover and attempts to call his estranged son. Yet in the same breath he uses the tainted money to fund for the church claiming that, “The Lord provides.”