Review - Outré #5: Desire

"Could really use a cigarette right now."

Human desires range from simple to complex. Few to many. The one constant is that humans do have desires and how we achieve those desires changes based on the person. In Outré #5: Desire from Outré Press, desire takes centerstage. The anthology is broken into four stories. "Dying for a Smoke" is by Mick Schubert, Mike Century and Josh Jensen. "Begierde Uberhaupt" is by Derek Adnams, Adam Bryce Thomas and Brandon Bullock. "Better Health" is by Jonathan Clode, Bern Campbell and April Brown. "What the Heart Wants" is by Glenn Matchett, Alena Lane and E.T. Dollman.

"Dying for a Smoke" features a man in a high-risk situation longing for the comfort of a cigarette. "Begierde Uberhaupt" is a somewhat fantastical story about a man breaking free from imprisonment. "Better Health" is about a man struggling to be comfortable with himself and doing things that he thinks will help with that cause. And "What the Heart Wants" is a pretty straightforward look at the sense of entitlement that often comes with royalty.

Each story is very adept at portraying desire in a slightly different light. "Dying for a Smoke" somewhat cleverly portrays the work as a paean to smoking (however unhealthy the habit is) as a means of calming a stressful situation. Begierde Uberhaupt is more about being imprisoned the desire to be free motivates the character to make his escape. "Better Health" is probably the most terrifying of all the stories, in that it capitalizes on a person's desire to fit in--sometime at all costs--and the lengths portrayed in the book support that want. And "What the Heart Wants" cleverly subverts the romanticism associated with what is ostensibly true love, but ends up being much simpler than that. All four stories blend well together and offer varying facets of desire in ways that feel cohesive as an anthology.

Artistically, Outré #5: Desire is pretty diverse. "Dying for a Smoke" adds a level of maturity to the events unfolding, as the renderings of the characters and settings feel very gritty. "Begierde Uberhaupt" embellishes a fantasy theme with an approach that resembles watercolors, which works well to add an ethereal element to the story. "Better Health" features what is arguably the most jarring artwork, as the style demonstrates the physical manifestation of a man cobbling together different pieces of personality into a "new look." And "What the Heart Wants" feels clean (a little too clean at points), effectively conveying a sense of royalty that accompanies the main characters. Each work features a style that's vastly different from the other stories, but each of the styles fits their respective works well.

Outré #5: Desire is all about desire and it offers glimpses of the emotion through different lenses. Each story boasts an approach to desire that hinges on a particular facet of desire, yet still maintains a connection to the desire itself. While the art styles range from story to story, the styles work individually and the book as a whole still nails its theme. Outré #5: Desire is an interesting anthology that features at least one story readers will be able to relate to. Although, it wouldn't be surprising if there's something in every story that's relatable to everyone.

Outré #5: Desire is available now.