Sean McKeever has a way of tapping into the young person experience and telling both genuine and enjoyable stories with teenage characters. From Young Inhumans to Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, a lot of his stories have focused on what it’s like to be young and face a world that is a bit scary and unsure. Outpost Zero perfectly encapsulates his previous experience with these kinds of stories and expands on it in a really interesting way. The premise of this series is a far flung future where humanity had to escape some kind of calamity on Earth and sent out groups to colonize different planets. This outpost is on a ice-covered planet and has been there for at least a few generations. The story focuses around several of the teenagers who live in the outpost and are going through aptitude tests to figure out what part of daily life at the outpost they would be best working at.
It’s very rich in backstory, but we don’t quite get the full picture yet. That’s okay, because we do get to know the very complex and deeply interpersonal stories of the kids who have only ever known life inside an artificial bubble. Literally, the outpost is a dome city with panels that mimic day and night like on Earth. The protagonist, Alea, always wanted to be on the discovery team, like her parents. She wants to go out and look for other signs of life on the frozen tundra, but the outpost is quickly deciding that the discovery team is not needed anymore, as the people in the outpost have come to live comfortably and without wonder of what might lie beyond the walls. It’s a great metaphor for growing into adulthood and settling for something or someone that allows you to live comfortably, but might not make you happy.
The art team of Tefenkgi and Beauliu have done a great job of setting the scene and making this comic look great. The pencils have a youthful and bubbly quality, but with a much larger scope than that of other artists who use similar styles. It’s just the right amount of sketchy while still remaining clean, and mixes new and old as well as I’ve seen in a long time. The colors are also great, from the way the artificial sunshine casts across the outpost down to the rusty edges to the panels on the outpost’s walls. It all mixes together to make the scene slightly worn down but not enough to cause alarm, which is exactly what the story calls for.
I enjoyed Outpost Zero #1 immensely. So much so that I didn’t even realize it was a double sized issue, which is always something that leaves me wary in comics. McKeever manages to blend the sci-fi high stakes with genuine problems young people experience to deliver a story large in scope but deeply personal as well. The art is filled with life and yet has aspects that make you worried for what’s to come. Together this makes a wonderful debut issue with few flaws.