Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Discount Bin Finds: Outsiders v.1:no.4

Thank God for Hard Currency!  THE OUTSIDERS v.1:no.4
I picked this one up almost at random one day at Borderlands. I had been awaiting the release of the Outsiders Showcase volume, and decided to pick this up as a sort of prologue to that. Well, that didn't work out, as I didn't get to read this until this week, but better late than never I always say -- just like Joe Quesada!

Our story opens with the shady Bad Samaritan speeding on a jet over the Pacific, being closely pursued by the Force of July, who in turn are being pursued by our heroes -- Geo-Force, Katana, Black Lightning, Halo, Metamorpho, and Looker. Turns out that the Samaritan has stolen printing plates for both American and Markovian currency, and intends to deliver them to the Soviets in order to wreak havoc on the Western economy! Forced to put their differences aside for the good of their respective missions, the Outsiders and the Force have to work together to stop the Samaritan as well as the stinkin' Commie bastards. But can two teams with so much bad blood co-operate at all?

Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo (who else?) present a fairly typical Outsiders tale, as we get a Barr team of bad guys, a plot involving political crime, and the specific use of the Cold War as a backdrop to the Soviet threat. There's two big action sequences -- one atop a Soviet submarine, and the other at a remote facility deep inside the Soviet border -- and both teams get to show off their various skills at kicking butt. Barr (that magnificent bastard) shines the spotlight on his creations, as is typical, but we get some nice moments out of it, a nice relief in the middle of all the combat. The Force of July gets a little screen time as well, and, honestly, though Barr got a lot of flak from Conservatives (including in the lettercol this issue) about them, I really like them as a team. They make a nice counterpoint to the Outsiders and deserve better than the fate they each eventually ended up with. Are they jingoistic? Yeah. But they are patriots too, and it becomes a question of ends and means, which is more depth than I think most suspected of them.

Aparo is Aparo; he could probably have drawn this team in his sleep at this point, but that's no reflection on the dynamism and power of his work, which is still super-pleasing to the eye, especially on the heavier Baxter paper it's printed on. Funny how even in today's world of high gloss paper, the Baxter still has a nice, heavy feel to it -- a nicely tactile experience.

There's also a short Metamorpho backup, done in the old Fradon-Haney sytle by Barr and Joe Staton. It's amusing but for an eight page back up it's a little light. That's okay though, since it's mainly a comedy piece with a little bit of that "Morpho Charm," so to speak.

I liked this comic quite a bit, but in the last few months I have in short order discovered and became a fan of the Outsiders, so that's not really surprising. Maybe its the "honeymoon" period as a new fan, but if Dixon's new BATO was in this style, I would be a very happy reader. Barr and Aparo pull off a nice balancing act of "social awareness" and superheroics, and it looks crisp and clean even 20 years after publication thanks to the "deluxe" pricepoint. Outsiders fans or those looking for a little DC action could do a lot worse than to check this comic out.


Adama said...

Black Lightning? Don't you mean Black Vulca...errr, Soul Power..errr Juice?

No, wait, Black Lightning is actually cool.

Luke said...

That Soul Power bit from Static Shock did crack me up, I must admit.