Or – “It’s Like 24, Only Slightly Less Unbelievable…”

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The Check/Out crossover has been interesting on a number of levels, but most of all, it’s been interesting to see the character interactions. Rucka and Winick seem to be co-writing each issue, with each of the various character voices staying true to previous depictions, even with a rollercoaster plot full of twists and turns. I was entertained by the interaction between Boomerang, Junior and Mlle. Marie, between Nightwing and The Black Queen, but nothing in the story so far has surprised me more than this issue’s final page…

Out1.jpgCaptured by Checkmate, the Outsiders have agreed to assist them with a covert task: infiltrating Oolong Island (site of the Mad Scientist enclave from ’52’) and find out what’s left after the carnage wrought by Black Adam. The combined strike team infiltrates the island, where sinister forces are afoot, both inside and outside the team. Count Vertigo, working under orders from Amanda Waller, is waiting for the moment when he can eliminate Boomerang (a threat to her because he was part of her Suicide Squad program during 52, a program Amanda wants kept under wraps.) Accessing the mainframe computer, Nightwing and The Black Queen download the information into The Thinker (Checkmate’s A.I unit) for transmission to the Checkmate mainframe, but when the download starts, Mr. Terrific is forced to kill the transmission before the program takes over Checkmate’s computer as well. But that download isn’t the only thing he had to terminate…

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That significant look between Amanda and King Faraday worries me. Of course, their plan to kill the young Captain Boomerang won’t be necessary if the Outsiders can’t get away from the cyborg monsters that are attacking them. Resembling the Four Horsemen of Apokalips (though seemingly considerably less powerful, with boomerangs and guns damaging their frames when Black Adam’s punches couldn’t kill the originals) they’re nonetheless powerful enough to concern our heroes, especially when The Thinker is forced to take more time to save the program himself than it would to have broadcast it back home.

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God, I know that feeling… The endless countdown timer that’s never accurate, 40%, 60%, but never seeming to reach the end, when all you want is to get your damn porn– I mean, access the Online Bible Study course and Prayer-A-Day calendar. Finally, Thinker reports that the download is complete, remarking, “I think I should warn you all… I’ve had a big meal, and I’m feeling a little sleepy.” Heh. Nightwing testily warns the Queen that they need to get out of the server room, while they continue to fight. “You think?” is her reply. Outside the castle, the backup team (Tom Jagger, Grace, Thunder, and Fire) get scrambled communications, and Grace wants to attack. Jagger stops her, indicating that in Checkmate, you don’t blow your cover until you have your orders. A mere second later, he gets the go-ahead, and they attack. “SO glad we waited,” snarks Grace, and the four of them go in for the attack. Nightwing calls Metamorpho for extrication, while The Thinker points out to Black Queen that this is obviously a trap. Worse than that, he’s found a problem with the code he “ate.”

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“Does Casper here do anything besides provide commentary?” asks Boomerang testily, and the Thinker replies, “Sometimes. Duck!” Mademoiselle Marie manages to pull him out of the line of fire of the biggest creature yet, ordering “Go limp!” Boomer still has his wits about him enough to flirt back, “That’s the last thing I ever wanted you to say to me.” “Get your hand off my ASS,” she snaps back. “And that’s second-to-last.” Heh. I don’t know whose dialogue that was, but hats off to the writer. Nightwing and Sasha keep fighting, but the no-longer-a-Boy Wonder has an idea.

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Sasha quickly deactivates the Thinker drone, and the heroes hit the floor. A huge pulse bursts through the room, killing the lights and deactivating the killer cyborgs systems. After a few seconds, the generators kick in, and Mlle. Marie finds her queen flat on the floor. She worries about the queen’s eye (which apparently exploded when the EMP went off) and Sasha mumbles, “Didn’t get everything shut down in time… Give me a second for my nano-bots to rebuild.” Nightwing remarks that they don’t have a second, so Sasha unsteadily rises and they exit the room. Marie points the way to the stairs, and Boomerang asks why not take the elevators. “The EMP fried the elevators,” replies Sasha, leaving the implied “idiot” at the end of the sentence unspoken.

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I’m chalking up the pure rage on Sasha’s face there to the fact that Bruce built the Brother I satellite that made her a cyborg, and nearly killed every person on the planet. She may remember Batman fondly, but there are issues there that may need some resolution. Of course, it may also be anger due to the realization that the hardware Nightwing has could be used to specifically target HER. Either way, The Black Queen is not happy. Just as they start heading for the stairs, the enire question is rendered moot, as the cavalry arrives in unusual fashion.

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“…you’ll never guess who I found!” “Jimmy^$&*ing Hoffa?” snarls Grace as she continues fighting giant robot insects. Grace asks if they could kindly come help with the phalanx of robo-bugs, and Thunder points out that, no, she really kind of can’t, since all the fliers are up there with Grace. Suddenly, the lights come back on, and The Black Queen points out that it took ninety-three seconds, compared to Nightwing’s estimate of 90. “Hey, I was close.” Heh. Boomerang is nailed by a laser beam, and The Black Queen orders Mademoiselle Marie to get out, leaving Sasha, Nightwing and Boomerang behind. Count Vertigo arrives and gets Thunder and Marie out, and Nightwing and The Black Queen fall unconscious, knowing that their mission is complete. Once onboard the jet, Grace wants to immediately go back and rescue them, but Jagger points out a squadron of incoming jets, and an even bigger problem…

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Great Ten in the house! I’m a little disappointed with the Great Ten being played as supervillains so often, as I swore I heard a rumor of a Great Ten ongoing series. I love the concepts behind the characters, and wish we could see more of them. As for those left behind, Nightwing is chained up in the dungeon, and assessed by an unseen voice. “The disciple of the Batman. As I suspected… entirely human.” Whomever it is continues on to find Boomerang and Sasha strapped to surgical gurneys, commenting “The last-generation OMAC hybrid… and a purported speedster… These two I can certainly work with…” We cut to the wide shot and find the speaker to be…

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Holy Crap! It’s Egg-Fu, young! Given his relative girth, I suspect we’re dealing with a clone or genetic duplicate of the original Chang Tzu, but either way, I wouldn’t want to be Sasha or Owen Boomerang in this situation. This, by the way, was a seriously creepy surprise, and though I liked Egg Fu’s demise, I think that having him as an ongoing villain will be a good thing, just as long as we can separate him from the rest of the Ten eventually. Maybe even treat them like heroes, since they’re mostly noble types, with the exception of having a different political systemic worldview.

Still, this issue was very well-done, with snappy dialogue, a plot that kept moving but never seemed out of control, as well as continuing to deepen the new interactions of the characters. I look forward to seeing Immortal Man In Darkness get some screen-time, and I also await whatever is up the exfiltration team’s sleeve, as I don’t believe for a second that this wasn’t planned. I can easily rank this 4.5 out of 5 stars, for political intrigue, personal drama, and some well-done art across the board. Next issue promises to be an interesting one, since when this mission is over, Checkmate never promised that the Outsiders would be allowed to continue operations. I wonder what Nightwing would have to say about THAT?

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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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12 Comments

  1. June 12, 2007 at 1:05 pm — Reply

    EGG-FU!

    Remember when Doc Magnus smashed him? There was a shot of a smaller egg inside!

  2. Josh
    June 12, 2007 at 1:48 pm — Reply

    The only problem with the Egg-Fu surprise ending is that it was ruined a month or so ago by Previews.

    I like the reveal and think Egg-Fu makes a great villain after being featured so effectively in 52.

  3. Brent F.
    June 12, 2007 at 4:03 pm — Reply

    Everyone in the DC universe, hero or villain, should just presume that Batman has some kind of toy that’s capable of taking them out. The man created a yellow suit once just for taking out Hal Jordan if he had too for corn’s sake!

  4. June 12, 2007 at 6:02 pm — Reply

    The only problem with the Egg-Fu surprise ending is that it was ruined a month or so ago by Previews.

    It was? I didn’t see that at all… Besides, this isn’t the original Egg Fu, this is his clone, which I have dubbed Egg Fu Young, to differentiate. :)

  5. June 12, 2007 at 6:03 pm — Reply

    Everyone in the DC universe, hero or villain, should just presume that Batman has some kind of toy that’s capable of taking them out. The man created a yellow suit once just for taking out Hal Jordan if he had too for corn’s sake!

    What the DC Universe calls ‘preparedness,’ you and I call ‘paranoid delusions with borderline personality disorder and OCD.’ Y’know, tomayto, tomahto…

  6. Brent F.
    June 12, 2007 at 10:05 pm — Reply

    You may claim Batman is paranoid, but when giant moth creatures from the 8th dimensions wielding devices forged from kryptonite that shoot pure anti-everything appear and Batman has an arsenal of batarangs that transform the creatures into Care Bears prepared because he saw this scenario coming a mile away… you’ll call him a flippin genius.

  7. June 12, 2007 at 10:43 pm — Reply

    Well, actually, as Tom Grice pointed out today, I’ll probably just call THE WRITER an idiot… :)

  8. Brent F.
    June 12, 2007 at 10:58 pm — Reply

    Unless you were a Gotham citizen.

  9. June 13, 2007 at 12:19 am — Reply

    I’d never move to Gotham. I don’t own a ski-mask, a tuxedo, or a trenchcoat…

  10. Baal
    June 13, 2007 at 1:06 am — Reply

    If Egg Fu was a sentient machine powered by liquid suspended nanites, then all they needed was a roll of Bounty to get him back toegther…

  11. June 13, 2007 at 1:12 am — Reply

    No, no, it’s the same Fu…as I said, he didn’t die. He’s sort of like a Russian Doll.

  12. Stephen
    June 13, 2007 at 7:20 am — Reply

    I had to go back and look at the issue, and it appears as though salieri is right, it does look like there is another egg inside the shot up Egg Fu – when I originally read it, I thought it was simply the yolk in the way it was drawn.

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