Or – “Two Of My Favorite Super-Heroes Together… So Obviously One Is Getting Fired.”


I was initially very skeptical about Thunder as a character. Black Lightning’s creator, Tony Isabella, has stated numerous times that retconning in a daughter that we never heard of makes Lightning look like a deadbeat dad, at best, and a heartless jerk at worst, and that Jefferson would never have let his child grow up without being an active force in her life, and I agree. But the execution of the character has grown on me; with Anissa initially less-than-thrilled to be a superhero but eventually growing into a role as Outsiders team powerhouse. Now, Batman has taken over the team, and even though Thunder helped to FOUND this new Outsiders team, he insists on torturing her to see if she’s up to HIS standards… This oughtta be interesting.

Previously, on Outsiders – 5 Of A Kind: I thought that his year off and the events of Infinite Crisis had taught Batman that you can’t always be an autocratic, controlling Out1.jpg@#$$head, but apparently he still has a lesson or two to put into motion. The first “prove yourself” mission cost him the services of both a super-speedster and alienated the man who trusts him most in the world, while the second essentially boiled down to manipulating a very old friend because he had a problem that was out of his league, no pun intended. (Seriously, what happened to the kinder, gentler Batman?) Out of the four people who seemed to be candidates for membership, only one has actually made the team, and she only made it because he already trusted her. Batman’s new Outsiders aren’t exactly doing anything to assuage my fears that Tony Bedard is going to take the team in a direction that will annoy me. Still, I must give the new writer the benefit of the doubt, and this issue DOES feature J’Onn J’onnz, a character I haven’t seen much of lately, so we’ll see how it goes. We start with Thunder falling through empty space, thinking about how creepy the movie ‘Alien’ was and why anyone would name their kid Sigourney. She lands, and we find that she’s not in space, but ten miles underground in a hidden chamber, where she is promptly attacked by a strange creature of unknown origin…


The monster leaps back, and reveals itself to be the Martian Manhunter in disguise (and was anyone surprised by that?) J’Onn tells her she cheated, calling her Anissa and telling her that not every monster will run from a flame, but Thunder isn’t having his back-patting and joviality. “I’m not down here to play game. And let’s stick to code-names, Martian Manhunter.” J’Onn agrees, telling her that he owes it to her father, Black Lightning. She’s frustrated at having to try out for a team she’s already been on for years, and J’Onn points out that Batman usually has a reason for being a dick. Thunder watches J’Onn, and her thoughts betray why she’s acting so oddly…


Heh. I really like the return of the old confident, serene J’Onn, though I still can’t fathom what possessed DC to make their main alien shape-shifter look so very much like a Skrull. The furrowed chin thing just seems like an atttempt to give us a visual cue to his powers by making a comparison to another company’s characters, and that sort of thing never really works. Usually, it just blows up in your face… The continue downward until they find a mysterious cannon of some sort, and are confronted by an addled gray alien who keeps muttering to himself. “The one… sent me here… Adam… Zeta… Zeta… Beam… Zeta Ray… Rayner.. RAYNER SENT YOU!” Oh, this can’t be good…


Thunder may be book-smart, but she’s just shown me that she’s still in need of some seasoning. There’s no way that a blast from a third-rate addendum to an old Kirby story is going to off the founding hero of DC’s Silver Age, honey. She quickly steps up, nailing the villain (Grayven, the son of Darkseid, about whom the only nice thing I can say is, he’s better than Kalibak) and taking him down with her density at maximum. With the New God pinned, J’Onn is able to take a look inside his shattered mind and find out how he got here.


Wow. I didn’t realize Kyle had it in him to do something like that… That’s more of a Guy Gardner move, in my mind. Still, it’s impressive that he took out someone with the power Kirby that effectively, sending him by green beam to Oa for incarceration. Unfortunately for the Kylester, Grayven was intercepted by another Apokaliptian, Speed Queen (!?!) of the Female Furies. She, too, is not an original Kirby, having first appeared in the old Hawk and Dove series in the early 90’s. She tries to tell Grayven of the coming darkness, trying to get him to stand beside her, but it’s far too late for Ms. Queen. The darkness is upon them…


Grayven ran, but not entirely out of fear. Even with his brain damaged, he is still a tactical wizard, running back to Earth for a desperate plan. Knowing that Zeta-beam radiation permeates this chamber from when he was teleported here, Grayven has built the cannon to harness that teleportation energy, and shoot the God-Killer straight to Apokalips and Darkseid. Whoever dies, he’s better off afterwards… It’s a little machiavellion, but a pretty solid strategy, really. “And I thought *I* had daddy issues,” replies Thunder, before telling J’Onn that they’re going to help him rebuild the cannon. “Do you not understand the magnitude of Grayven’s crimes? Surely you can’t be serious!” She invites him to read her mind, and whatever he sees in there convinces him, and the Manhunter restores Grayven’s mind. The unlikely threesome gets to work…


And, to the surprise of no one (including Thunder and M.M.) Grayven then tries to turn on them, attacking Thunder with his eye-beams. J’Onn quickly exits, and Grayven laughs at his cowardice, preparing to kill the daughter of Black Lightning, but suddenly, a voice interrupts him. “You ran FAR and you ran WELL, Grayven… But MINE are duties that no distance or barrier can forestall.” A horrified Gryaven turns around to behold the god-killer of Apokalips… The Black Racer! Is HE the one behind all the New God deaths? I suppose that it only makes sense, doesn’t it? The Racer attacks, and Grayven uncharacteristically tries to get the creature to talk about his plan… “My reasons are my own,” replies the incarnation of Death. “When I claimed Speed Queen, you FLED ‘ere I could judge your fate.” Grayven once again attacks, and I can’t believe that he’s supposed to be a tactical genius but he’s falling for this. The Black Racer pauses, as if confused, and suddenly the fight is over. Grayven is NOT what he thinks he is…


Grayven roars his displeasure, and runs for his teleporter. “Ha! By the time you reach the throne of Apokalips, I will prop my feet on Darkseid’s corpse!” Teleporting himself back to Apokalips with the remaining Zeta energy. “And, you. Anissa Pierce… Daughter of Black Lightning…” The Racer pauses, and starts to blur a bit. “Our plan worked like a charm.” J’Onn returns to his new hybrid Zippy-the-Pinhead-in-spandex look, and smiles. “Your father would be proud.” Thunder quickly destroys the teleportation cannon, and the Manhunter commends her on her plan (though he thinks that he’ll need to look into matters on Apokalips soon to find out the truth.) She shyly asks his real name, and he tells her. “It’s J’Onn. What happened to ‘let’s stick to codenames?’ ” Thunder tells him HE passed HER test, and that she now considers him an honorary Outsider. Meanwhile, in Darkseid’s throne room, Grayven arrives, and promptly gets his heart blow out. “So begins the end,” intones the REAL God-killer. That’s shocking, but not as shocking as what comes next…


Oh, no… No freakin’ way! The man who has let the Joker go HUNDREDS OF TIMES is going to try and take the moral high ground on Grayven? Now I’m REALLY irritated! Martian Manhunter has made the team (which is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned) but one of my new favorite characters is out. Now, here’s the thing about that: First, I have seen two different possible lineups for the post-Nightwing Outsiders, one with Thunder, one without. I suspect that Thunder WILL be a part of that team, and I suspect that Grace WILL have something to say about it, as well. So, I’m torn between annoyance at Batman’s reasoning (which I think even the most hardcore Bat-fan can see has an undercurrent of hypocrisy to it) and annoyance about DC being coy about what comes next.

As a fan of the last incarnation of the Outsiders, I’m not necessarily thrilled with the big change in direction, even though I understand why they’re doing it. This is a new DC Universe, after all, and the whole “proactive” Outsiders schtick isn’t as relevant in that new status quo. This issue was enjoyable, but pretty forgettable for me, with Thunder’s ousting the only real surprise for me. The deaths of Speed Queen and Grayven didn’t really do much for me (of course, I’ve always thought that some of the barnacles accumulated by the Fourth World mythology over the last couple of decades were certainly worth wiping out) serving mostly as prelude to events in Countdown and the Countdown related mini-series. Tony Bedard is everywhere at DC right now, and while the issue was well-constructed, I didn’t feel the “wow.” The art (by Koi Turnbull, who will be handling the new ‘Batman and the Outsiders’ series) is a little odd as well, with an angular feel that works most times, but fails spectacularly here and there (notably in the Speed Queen sequence.) Seeing the team that will be handling Outsiders in action, though, I can see potential in the new series. All in all, this issue balances out the good and bad, earning a respectable 2.5 stars out of 5…


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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  1. Brent F.
    August 21, 2007 at 3:05 pm — Reply

    I like Martian Manhunter’s new look. It’s way better than his old Butterbean look.

    I also liked this issue because I was never a fan of Thunder. Also, I don’t see the hypocracy in Batman’s decision to axe her from the team. Most of the time when a villain gets away it’s not because Batman wanted them too or caused their escape. Thunder knowingly restored the mind of a powerful alien who has killed BILLIONS and then let him lose. Before her actions he was no longer a threat.

    Letting the Joker go is one thing, Batman’s almost always had logical reasons for doing so. But what Thunder did was just stupid.

  2. Baal
    August 21, 2007 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    If I weren’t already planning on buying Batman and the Outsiders this mini would destroy my Outsiders love. The new artist passes the my test though and once Bedard is free of editorial mandate (as much as he can in a Countdown dominated climate) I have great hope for what he can do with any combination of the characters hinted at being members. I’m just wondering what makes this artist so wonderful that giving the choice of letting go him from the title or iriginally scheduled writer Peter Tomasi, a man with a history with DC that includes an amazing revitilization of Batman, The Powers That Be went with Turnbull? I mean, the guy’s that good but Vegas woudl have set the betting odds on Tomasi for sure.

  3. Brother129
    August 21, 2007 at 6:40 pm — Reply

    Brent F: Thunder’s rationale/logic behind letting the baddie go can be justified just Batman does in his own mind with the Joker. Thunder was my favorite of the Outsiders ( a tie with Grace). What this boils down to is TRUST. Batman doesn’t trust any of these newbies so far.

  4. Brent F.
    August 21, 2007 at 7:57 pm — Reply

    Brother: Grayven’s murdered billions of people and he’s just been restored as a threat to the universe by Thunder. I don’t think you can justify that.

  5. August 22, 2007 at 12:14 am — Reply

    Brother: Grayven’s murdered billions of people and he’s just been restored as a threat to the universe by Thunder. I don’t think you can justify that.

    Well, actually… he was killed seconds after arriving on Apokalips (though Batman has no way of knowing that.) And even if he WEREN’T dead, her plan teleported him directly into the hands of Darkseid, a man who is powerful enough to neutralize his evil. Batman’s hypocrisy isn’t a matter of scale to me, it’s a matter of clashing styles. Putting Grayven in the hands of Darkseid is the same thing as putting the Joker in the hands of Arkham Asylum, taking a threat and diverting it temporarily into the hands of someone who can control it.

    And frankly, his need for control has cost him three good operatives so far, and it should be noted that both Katana and J’Onn have voiced issues with his management style in the past. I’m still hoping that there’s a chance for Anissa to prove herself, but mostly I’m just sick of the fact that “Batman Is Smarter Than Everyone.” (TM)

  6. Alec
    August 22, 2007 at 9:41 am — Reply

    Not sure I agree with your “putting Grayven in the hands of Darkseid is the same thing as putting the Joker in the hands of Arkham Asylum” analogy. Arkham’s goal is to rehabilitate whereas Darkseid’s goals have never been anything less that suspect and self-serving.

  7. nu
    August 22, 2007 at 8:00 pm — Reply

    it would be awesome if the black racer was the real new god killer and he survived. i know that this is not the case though. how can you be sick of “batman is smarter than everyone”? its the truth. batman is a form of the presence here on earth. batman knows all, sees all, and can do anything. come on, he’s the freakin batman.

  8. Brother129
    August 22, 2007 at 9:31 pm — Reply

    Don’t you mean…the goddamned batman?

  9. nu
    August 26, 2007 at 11:58 pm — Reply

    haha. that works too

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