Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review - Outré #4: Silence


Outré #4: Silence is the fourth anthology in the series. This one is a littler different though, as the work takes its name seriously and doesn't feature any dialogue. The anthology features "Planetary Rings" by Bret Bernal, Alex Diotto and Jon Scrivens, "The Language of Violence" by Devon Wong, Peter Mason and Kóte Carvajal, "Peon" by Lex Wilson and Kelly Williams, "Cyborg Witch" by Dave Newbold and Joshua Jensen, "Last Sign" by Danos Philopoulos and "Can't Say" by Noel Franklin.

All the stories in Outré #4: Silence are presented with no dialogue. Despite this design choice, there are still some very heady stories to be told. "Planetary Rings" is a broad interpretation of marriage and the importance (or lack thereof) of wedding bands as a sign of the couple's commitment. "The Language of Violence" depicts a father and husband choosing his somewhat atypical career over his family; a choice that bears consequences when he realizes he has no relationship with said family. "Peon" is a pretty cute story about a little goblin fighting a war that he's not supposed to be a part of, while "Cyborg Witch" is a story that boasts a samurai witch with cyborg augmentation. Finally, "Last Sign" and "Can't Say" are two full-page panels that evoke emotions associated with their titles.

As there's no dialogue in the book, the reader must instead rely on the images to convey the story. For the most part, Outré #4: Silence does a great job in presenting artwork that effectively tells a story. "Planetary Rings" and "The Language of Violence" seem to rely on themes of family and commitment, but there are some gaps in the story that dialogue would have definitely filled in. It's not to say the stories don't make sense at all, but there are some gaps that require the reader to take a leap to completely understand what's going on. The stories in "Peon" and "Cyborg Witch" are very clear and really offer the reader a look at the frenetic and unpredictable nature of combat.

There are a wide range of art styles across all stories. "Planetary Rings" maintains something of a comic strip feel and the art is defined by concise lines and a relative lack of detail in the backgrounds. This style is accompanied by a very vivid color palette that further emphasizes the otherworldliness of the title. "The Language of Violence" is a start contrast in appearance as the second story, relying instead on darker hues that cast a general pall over the work. "Peon" feels a lot like something a child would create, in that there's a color-by-numbers feel to it that encapsulates the imagination in a work that boasts goblins and knights. The look feels energetic and exciting, with even the main character coming across as a very lovable looking lead. "Cyborg Witch" seems to draw heavily on anime style and the combat very much has the same feel to it as Cyborg Witch does battle with a menacing robot. And both "Last Sign" and "Can't Say" are short at one page each, the impact of their meaning can't really be understated.

Outré #4: Silence is an interesting anthology that capitalizes on the premise that silence is deafening. Despite a lack of words, there are still numerous actions that carry with them a tremendous weight and emotion. Those feelings are conveyed very well in the anthology, with each story managing to touch a different emotion through different characters and actions. Both "Planetary Rings" and "The Language of Violence" feel similar to one another in tone, while "Peon" and "Cyborg Witch" share characteristics of more fantasy/comic book material. Overall, the book is very interesting and takes the bold step of featuring only panels and no dialogue.

Outré #4: Silence will be available December 5.

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