Or – “You Gotta Love Grace…”

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There’s two important safety tips to the reading of Major Spoilers recaps of Outsiders. One: I am a fan of Judd Winick, his dialogue and plotting, so while many other reviewers may raise hue and cry about the earmarks of Judd’s writing, you won’t get that here. Secondly, I have a huge imaginary crush on Grace Choi. I don’t know why, and I’m not going to try and defend it, but a six-foot tattooed half-Asian woman with super-strength appeals to me. As Grant Morrison (or someone quite like him) said in this week’s ‘Tales of The Unexpected’: “We’re geeks. That’s how we roll.” He said it with a thick Scottish accent, though, so it was incomprehensible. Meanwhile, back at the crossover…

Out1.jpgIn Checkmate #13, government agents captured nearly all of the Outsiders, baiting Captain Boomerang with an attractive girl, capturing Katana with a seemingly-injured innocent bystander, dropping Metamorpho with steath and vertigo-inducing superpowers, and waylaying Thunder & Grace with brute force (and toxic gas.) Only Nightwing was left standing, and he quickly figured out what happened, and tracked his team to Checkmate’s Swiss castle headquarters. Nightwing waits until Black Queen Sasha Bordeaux returns to her quarters, then quickly puts her in a chokehold, informing her that he will know where his people are, or he will use Sasha’s ‘shiny parts’ (leftover OMAC implants) to disassemble the castle brick by brick until he gets his answers. Sasha snorts, and replies, “I’m betting my shiny bits can take a LOT more punishment…”

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Oooh, Sasha. I can’t believe you went for the family jewels on a first date. Having both been trained by the same man, Sasha and Dick quickly recover, and he remarks that she’s stronger than she looks after she throws him the length of the ROOM. “And quicker,” she responds, catching his thrown escrima stick. She tries to return it, but is quickly overtaken by the former boy wonder.

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Sasha plays HARD, doesn’t she? First a nutshot, now a headbutt… she’s definitely hardcore. Nightwing is gone before she can respond, and she calls her Bishop, Jessica Midnight, who immediately asks if she should scramble knights. Sasha, astonishingly, says no, wondering how many bones Nightwing is going to be able to dig up by himself. He manages to get through the castle, taking down many pawns with non-lethal force before hacking into the security system. Knowing the odds, he starts scanning the security systems to find what he wants… the one wildcard that will give him the edge to find the REST of his team: Grace. Having tracked her down, he blows the door on her cell (her response: “About #*$!ing time!” Heh.) and questions her as to why she’s in a hospital gown. He’s nonplussed to hear that chemical warfare was used to take down his teammates, with good reason…

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“…the door.” “Screw that!” bellow Grace. “You mess with the bull, you get the damn horns!” Oookay, then. A very unlucky squadron of Checkmate knights is in the hall, and they know they’re hosed, but can’t move quick enough to keep Grace from bowling them down like tenpins. Dick gives her the information on the team, and is about to recommend that they need Metamorpho, but Grace decides that she wants to break Thunder out first. And by decides, I mean crashes through walls until she finds her girlfriend. Awww… Grace rips open the elevator shaft, BITES THROUGH the cable, and leaps down. Nightwing, for his part, suddenly realizes that things are a bit too easy.

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Suddenly, the door pops open, and Sasha points out that since it’s HER property that Grace would be destroying, she’d prefer that they stop. “What the hell is THIS?” asks Grace. “A second chance for the Outsiders,” replies the Black Queen. Sasha compliments them damage only two of them managed to do…

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Inside the briefing room, they find the whole team (and Grace immediately runs to make sure Thunder is okay in a sweet moment) assembled, along with Mr. Terrific. Nightwing stops Sasha for a moment, and tells her that fighting styles are like fingerprints, if you know how to look. “I know how to look,” he whispers. “I KNOW who you are.” “You know who I WAS,” replies Sasha tersely before beginning her proposition for the Outsiders with a briefing.

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Oh, my… This looks interesting. I wonder how much influence Dr. Sivana may or may not have over those left on the island. Sasha continues the briefing, explaining that their objective it to neutralize the operation and capture any information that they can… before Nightwing interrupts with “What the hell makes you think that we’re about to do anything you say?” Mr. Terrific fields his question by explaining that the UN Security Council has ordered Checkmate to take the Outsiders into custody, but he and Sasha have a different idea. Sasha believes that the Outsiders are doing more damage than not about half the time, but the goons on Oolong Island have been doing harm 100% of the time. The Outsiders get to do what they do best, and Checkmate helps them out with the fireworks.

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Okay, that line is totally beneath you, Nightwing, even if your name IS Dick. Heh. The team talks it over for a moment, and quickly decides to play the game by Checkmate’s rules. The Outsiders, Sasha and Tommy Jagger board the Pequod for the attack on Oolong Island, but the villains collected may have a few defensive strategies of their own…

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That’s what I call a burglar alarm. It actually looks like Fin Fang Foom had a baby with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In any case, the issue leaves us hanging from that particular cliff, and I think that next issue ought to be interesting. The overall question that remains unasked is: what happens with the Outsiders AFTER this mission? Will they be able to maintain their status with Checkmate? Will they be set off on their own? Could they even go legit? It’s going to be interesting, in any case.

The art is back to its former splendor with the return of old regular penciller Matthew Clark, and best of all, my Grace doesn’t look like Goku with tats any longer. This was a strange issue for me, as the plot was nice, but bits of dialogue (notably the “do I get a kiss?” line) were a bit cringe-worthy. Still, it’s Judd, and I give him a lot of the benefit of the doubt based on Barry Ween alone. This issue was better than average, with well-done story and art, ranking a solid 3 stars out of 5. The next chapter of this story is in Checkmate #14, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new state of affairs on Oolong. Egg Fu Junior, anyone?

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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8 Comments

  1. Brent F.
    May 14, 2007 at 1:43 pm — Reply

    Wow, what a difference in the art.

    Is it just me or does anyone else want too see someone at these meetings treat Mr. T’s t-spheres like annoying little mosquitos buzzing in your ear?

  2. May 14, 2007 at 1:51 pm — Reply

    Clark’s art makes my imaginary love affair with Grace seem less incomprehensible. Still creepy as &$(@, but at least understandable in a “Fanboy What Needs Himself A Life” kinda way.

    I wonder if the T-spheres make any noise as they float there? Maybe they smell like ozone and really suck to have around?

  3. Leroy Grey
    May 14, 2007 at 2:01 pm — Reply

    I guess Nightwing (or Winick) is a Pacino fan. The “kiss” line’s a PG-13 version of a line of dialogue from “Dog Day Afternoon”…

  4. Brent F.
    May 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    There is nothing wrong with wanting a beautiful and well built woman rough you up a little bit, nothing at all. Except of course if that woman is Circe because you don’t know where she has been, you could be getting Swamp Thing’s sloppy seconds for all you know.

  5. May 14, 2007 at 2:21 pm — Reply

    No, you’ve got me all wrong. :) I don’t want her to rough ME up, I want her to rough up people who irk me. I also wonder how many hours she’s spent under a tattoo needle and how they manage to penetrate her nigh-invulnerable skin.

    Grace is (according to Winick) partly based on his wife, Pam, and his affection for the character is obvious. Either I’m just picking up on it, or she’s really the coolest DC character since Starman VI.

  6. May 14, 2007 at 2:23 pm — Reply

    I guess Nightwing (or Winick) is a Pacino fan. The “kiss” line’s a PG-13 version of a line of dialogue from “Dog Day Afternoon”…

    Thank you! I knew I’d heard it somewhere, but Chris Sarandon as a transsexual must have wiped my memory of the events…

  7. Brent F.
    May 14, 2007 at 2:23 pm — Reply

    That’s confusing, I wonder how his wife felt when he wrote Grace into a lesbian relationship with Thunder.

    “Is this your way of telling me you want a threesome for your birthday?!”

  8. May 14, 2007 at 3:58 pm — Reply

    “Is this your way of telling me you want a threesome for your birthday?!”

    Yeah, good luck there, Judd. To quote Peter Griffin, “I’ve been barkin’ up that tree for seventeen years.” :)

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