Review - The OUTRÉ Anthology #2: Hopelessness

Not content with one anthology, The OUTRÉ Anthology #2: Hopelessness is bringing together more creators and artists for a series of stories and illustrations that offer fresh takes on human emotion. The anthology is broken into four stories ("Torsobear," "Cassandra," "Surviving the Collide" and "Brenda"), four illustrations ("Nothing Missing," "The Death of Hope," "Last Man" and "A Man at the Bar") and two interviews with Rachel Deering and Brett Uren.

The first story "Torsobear" is by Brett Uren and throws a rather innocent Ruxby Bear into the rough streets of Toyburg, where he's paired up with a hard-nosed detective in Hazbrow. A day in the life of the police force though hardens him beyond belief and even goes so far as blackening his soul to an extent. The story itself is very familiar, drawing on cop serials where the rook is thrown to the wolves. Uren's illustrations are appropriately vibrant in color, yet muted due to the state of the town itself. The total package is a very interesting mix and even offers up a unique deity who commands everyone's decision-making to some extent.

"Cassandra" is written by Kevin Fong, illustrated by Shane Smith, colored by Kevin Enhart and lettered by Mick Schubert and looks at the effects that depression has on an individual as they struggle to cope with its devastating impact. The story progresses as one would expect, with the afflicted going through the motions until she ends up in a slightly difficult situation. The art in this book is a little harsh. Cassandra is illustrated very angrily and--quite frankly--scarily as well, which distracts from the story itself. The ending is very poignant and offers a great ending to a generally tragic tale.

"Surviving the Collide" is written by Michael Deshane, illustrated by Laszlo Seber, colored by Shaun Dobie and lettered by Schubert and offers an interesting twist on the familiar post-apocalyptic scenario. It's a tale of love and loss, all set against the backdrop of gelatinous creatures absorbing and killing everyone they can get a hold of. The script doesn't quite fall into the typical disaster scenario story, featuring some rather harrowing decision-making on the part of the characters. The art feels realistic at some points, but others remind the reader that they're reading a comic. There are some facial expressions that look a little rough around the edges, but there are some unique panel layouts.

Finally, "Brenda" is written by Jonathan Clode, illustrated and lettered by Jonas Larsen and colored by Nic Shaw offering a look at the end of the road so to speak. In it, the title character Brenda is facing the end of her life in a place she feels she shouldn't be. It's a story that everyone can relate to and offers a rather sobering look at where most people will end up towards the ends of their lives. The illustrations are very simplistic and rely on primary colors to carry the story to its conclusion.

Each of the four illustrations offer up a different look at a different emotion or sense. "Nothing Missing" is by Allen Byrns and is a very dark look at living a full life. "The Death of Hope" is by Sarah Jones and is a rather literal interpretation of the phrase. "Last Man" is by Ruben Rojas and pitches the last man on Earth against the end of the planet. Finally, "A Man at the Bar" is by Greg Giordano and is exactly what it sounds like. The interviews are both very insightful and tap into some pretty special talent in Deering and Uren, both of whom elaborate on things like the work process, Kickstarter and creating comic books.

As an anthology, the work has its ups and downs. The stories are pretty interesting and delve deep into the human psyche, but some of the art is a little uneven and rough around the edges. The illustrations continue the theme as well, offering full-page images that capture an emotion humans feel for a variety of things. The interviews are very insightful and offer advice to aspiring creators on a wide range of topics. The book is definitely worth checking out to see how up and coming creators are doing things and read some stories with rather unique perspectives.

The OUTRÉ Anthology #2: Hopelessness is in stores December 20.