Thursday, February 19, 2009
Fair Trade -- Outsiders v.1: Looking For Trouble
As I have mentioned before, I began reading Outsiders a few years back, during the One Year Later promotion. Once I started following their adventures, one of my goals was to collect the entire run of the third series, which had pretty much flown under my radar the entire time it was published prior to OYL. And at HeroesCon this past year I was lucky enough to find the entire series in collected form for half off -- so one big transaction later and I'm done!
Which leads us here, the first collection of the third version of the team to bear the name "Outsiders." Spinning out of the events of the Titans/Young Justice crossover Graduation Day, we start out with Roy Harper, Arsenal, deciding to do something other than mope about the death of Donna Troy. He approaches several adventurers, some familiar and some new, with his concept of a team which goes on the hunt to actively shut down the bad guys of the world before their schemes threaten the innocent (hence, the title of the collection). Among his recruits are Nightwing, the recently resurrected Metamorpho, the daughter of Black Lightning known as Thunder, meta-powered bouncer Grace Choi, and the mind-wiped "offspring" of Brainiac who murdered Donna, codenamed Indigo. Along the way, the team also picks up Jade, the daughter of the Green Lantern Alan Scott. They are quickly put to the test when Gorilla Grodd invades Manhattan with a battalion of armed apes, and don't get much of a break after that when they have to shut down a sleeper cell of human weapons organized by Brother Blood.
All in all, this was a good collection of superhero schtick. Judd Winnick has a good handle on what he wants the character's voices to be, and he sticks to it nicely. Not everyone like his smart-alecky approach to dialogue (myself included some of the time), but with this group it works well. Clearly he is enamored with some of his own creators (Thunder and Grace), but that's alright, that's what wrtiers dom yes? The art is split just about equally between Tom Raney (issues #1-3, 7) and ChrisCross (#4-6), and both have crisp, clean styles which mesh up nicely. It's something of an odd look for the Outsiders, being a style I would more rapidly identify with the Teen Titans or another "young" group, but I like the way this book looks. (There are also some pages from the Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files as well.)
The stories themselves are a lot of fun. I mean, an ape army laying seige to Manhattan? That's awesome! But even beyond that we get a lot going on in these issues, and since we have not just one big saga but several smaller ones (we get the formation of the team, Grodd's ape-vasion, Brother Blood's sleeper cell, and then a done-in-one involving Metamorpho), we get to see a lot of different elements and setpieces. The fun is hampered somewhat in the beginning, with all of the angsty fallout to the death of Donna Troy. I guess I never cared all that much since I don't think I know who she was before she died! (Yeah, I was more of a Marvel fan growing up...) There's also some sillier elements dating to the fact that these were originally published in 2003, including Thunder's questionable wig, and Lex Luthor being President of the United States.
Still, all told I found this volume was a fun way to spend a plane ride from Atlanta to Minneapolis, and it made me glad I decided to pick up the entire series. It's a snappy, fast-paced adventure, with an interesting mix of characters and settings. I very much am looking forward to the next installment, which you might very well see in this space at some point.