After Outré’s foray into a wordless issue for Issue #4 of the indie anthology, dipping into the theme of desire for Issue #5 almost seems like low hanging fruit. Desire sounds so obvious and easy, but the contributors to Outré always manage to surprise me, and none of the four stories are as straightforward as the topic would lead readers to believe.
“Dying for a Smoke,” the first story in this issue, seems basic enough with a man longing for a cigarette as he faces death; however, the circumstances surrounding his impending end are unique enough that sharing them might lessen the impact of reading the story with no details. Needless to say, the deceptively basic presentation of the conflict carries a punch when all the pieces fall together. The artwork for this story is reminiscent of some of the golden and silver age artists, which fits the tale perfectly. Just don’t expect it to leave your mind when you’ve finished it.
If you like surreal, thought-provoking pieces, the following story, “Begierde Ueberhaupt,” is the story for you. The dreamlike artwork and complex story follow a man struggling with his desire to simply be, to exist in a world where the priests consider him a threat to their power. Does he escape? Does he remain trapped? I think that each reader’s answer may be a little different. “BU” doesn’t spoon feed readers, and while it’s not an easy read, it has something about it that makes me think of books touted as “serious literature.”
“Better Health” felt a little too realistic to my personal situation to be a fun read, but I also sympathized strongly with the main character, Henry. He’s struggling in his job, being hounded to go for a promotion, and trying to keep his relationship with his girlfriend going; however, he really wants to become physically strong like some of his co-workers, probably in hopes that it’ll help his mental state. Unfortunately, Henry’s quest is doomed for failure, but it’s a poignant look at how a desire for better health or physical characteristics can destroy us. The majority of the story is just black and white, which fits Henry’s bleak world. The splashes of color stand out more against the starkness of the remainder of the art.
The final story in Outré #5, “What the Heart Wants,” is the only one that addresses the most common aspect of desire: physical lust; however, like the other three stories, the prince’s quest to win the love of a beautiful woman is not simple, and a dark undercurrent runs through the entire piece. The twisted nature of the protagonist contrasts beautifully with the intricate, fairytale-type artwork for the story. I really loved the look of this story, but it just proves that beauty can conceal a very rotten core. I think that Outré #5 is a great addition to the indie comic anthology with its unique twist on desire. Even the one story addressing my first thought on the theme pushed the envelope in ways I didn’t expect, which is wonderful. If you want something fresh, unique, and filled with lesser-known creators, definitely pick this up! It wasn’t my favorite issue for the anthology, but it’s a strong installment in an amazing series.
4 Complicated Plots to Win a Woman out of 5
Outré #5 is available for download here, as are the previous volumes.