A brutal attack, mediums, psychedelic drugs, literal out of body experiences, and deep metaphysical diving, Out of Body #1 has them all.
With a prolific career like Milligan’s, it’s easy to jump into a new series with complete abandon—to commit to the book well before it’s proven itself on the grounds of, say, half a decade on the moody, spooky Hellblazer or the utterly insane and vibrant X-Force/X-Statix run. Either end of that particular spectrum would be just fine by most longtime fans.
Out of Body falls, as the title suggests, in the camp of the former—supernatural mystery being a genre to itself, Body takes to the spectral right away, introducing a catatonic man on the verge of ghosthood, and a scarred-face villain with Victorian flair.
All of this is perfectly serviceable spookiness, but it’s hard not to feel as if the issue is a bit lacking in its delivery (the problem with having your POV character confined to a hospital bed). The most interesting part of the book is, presumably, the villains — dapper Krueger and the guy cosplaying Captain Cutler, as pictured above — who merely bookend a story about a catatonic man having a wild acid trip. For my money, the real prize of a character here will end up being Abigail McGrath, a medium-for-hire who seems somewhat fed up with the ‘for hire’ portion of her career; while a homicide detective is present and accounted for, it appears Abigail is the one most likely to solve any spooky mysteries.
A pseudo-spiritual, pseudo-scientific framing seems the most central aspect of our POV character — a sort of experimental psychologist working, vaguely, on PTSD therapies, he both prescribes and dabbles with psychedelics — the implication being, it would seem, that the spiritual is scientific and the scientific is spiritual, and it’s all a bit trippy either way.
The end of the book provides a few pages of The Book of Dying & Not Dying, a sort of summary of our world and characters in the guise of an old manual text, and it’s this sort of aesthetic — a world of refined, storied magics — that, combined with the concept of arcane diving and old basement library settings, are the most enticing to me. It presents a counterpoint to the more sterile, medicinal approach to spirituality that plays the larger part of the story, and gives an opportunity to present two sides of the ghostly coin. Give me a lived-in world for these characters to get lost in, a tonal tension with some futurist drug thinking, and I think Out of Body will be near the top of the month’s already over-populated horror pull-list.
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