July 16, 2019

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Outpost Zero 10 - McKeever, Tefenkgi, and Beaulieu Are Crafting Something Special as the YA Skybound Series Hits Tween Status


Outpost Zero 10
Image/Skybound Comics
Writer - Sean Kelley McKeever
Line Artist - Alexandre Tefenkgi
Color Artist - Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer - Ariana Maher


“It’s like talking to a person without all that, you know, person stuff.” 

For some reason, I always neglect Outpost Zero on our weekly “Catch it at the Comic Shop” columns. Occasionally, it’s because the series inevitably hits the stands the week I’ve chosen to screw around instead of writing my picks, but it’s often a bizarre oversight that makes little sense considering the book is on my pull list and has been one of my favorite series since it debuted.  
At this point, though, I’m not sure why the series isn’t garnering far more attention. From a narrative standpoint, Sean Kelley McKeever has been crafting an intriguing narrative that has enough twists to be a consistent page turner without feeling gimmicky, and the art team of Alexandre Tefenkgi and Jean-Francois Beaulieu are turning out superior work. It should be undeniable that Tefenkgi is a major up and coming talent and that he and Beaulieu combine for some of the best covers that you’ll find on the racks.  


One of the attributes of Outpost Zero that I find most engaging is McKeever’s narrative structure. He changes directions without upsetting the flow as he understands the need for transition issues to develop characters or allow major plot developments to settle for their full weight to be understood before moving onto the next big event. Issue ten is one of those transition issues, heavy on dialogue and decisions, as Sam and Alea come to terms with not only their major discovery from issue 9, but events that stem back to the first issue of the series.  

Throughout the series, McKeever has rarely produced as dialogue heavy an issue, and most of the action is indoors, so we don’t get any beautiful Tefenkgi landscapes, but as has become a recurring motif in the series, this issue’s big reveal comes from two beautiful wordless pages roughly two thirds of the way through the book.  

At the end of issue 9, Sam and Alea have journeyed deeper into the bowels of the outpost to uncover the mystery of the genship only to discover a giant, semi-sentient mech. Issue 10 opens with the two leaders of our otherworldly Scooby Gang learning more about their new robot friend, namely that he’s an excellent caregiver for the feral cats that live in the outpost, and, only somewhat more importantly, that he was designed to help the original outpost colonists survive their journey two and a half centuries ago. That Sam and Alea have no knowledge of their ancestral planet speaks to the nature of the outpost culture. 



McKeever has always understood the complexities of adolescent characters, and he puts that knowledge on full display in this issue. These aren’t one dimensional types, and the narrative isn’t limited merely to their quest to solve the mystery of the outpost. These are full developed characters, adolescents replete with frustrations and anxieties that transcend the immediate. And though they’re in the midst of encountering big metaphysical dilemmas, McKeever, Tekenkgi, and Beaulieu never let us forget that they are still kids. 

Interested in catching up on the series? Issue 10 is currently on the comic shop racks, and the first two trade collections that include issues 1-9 can be found at your local LCS, Comixology, or a number of different options via Imagecomics.com.