Or – “I May Be Nothin’ To You, But I Am A King Beneath The Sea…”


“Let’s see you get by underwater, as well as I do on the ground. I am AQUAMAN! Ya better not mess around.” Those prophetic words come courtesy of my third favorite band in all the world, Ookla The Mok, introduced to me by my friend Bruce of Otter Disaster infamy. So far in the New Outsider Order, we’ve seen the big bad Bat send a promising super-speedster back to an underground life that will probably lead to a villain career or death, we’ve seen him alienate his own son, we’ve discovered that even if you’re successful in your mission (as Thunder was) there’s no guarantee that he’ll respect your decision-making skills, and most tellingly, we’ve seen that the only people he trusts are the people he already trusts. At this point in the race, his only acquisition is the Martian Manhunter, and of the active Outsiders, only Katana has made the cut. His level of Bat-Dickness has been running between 6 and 10 throughout, but we’re at a moment of truth, as both Aquaman and Metamorpho have a history with Ol’ Scallop-cape.

Out1.jpgPreviously on Outsiders: Captain Boomerang drew a black ball, Nightwing wanted nothing to do with this at all, Martian Manhunter has a furrowed chin, Thunder got hosed after taking the win, Katana stabbed herself right through the gut, Billy Batson just sort of watched over her, but no outcome was found to actually work, and Batman, as always was mostly a jerk. Burma Shave. I think the largest piece of information you need to take away from Outsiders: 5 of a Kind is that Batman doesn’t trust Nightwing’s people, and that it’s kind of offputting to those who have been reading and enjoying the book over the last couple of years. Also important: since the One Year Later jump, Aquaman isn’t the same big blonde goon that we remember from Super Friends. That man was somehow transformed into a mystic called the Dweller of the Depths, and this new young man in the orange suit is actually Arthur Curry (whose origin, ironically, is mostly the one that the first Aquaman had pre-Crisis.) For those who are still confused, the gist is this: he’s young, he breathes water, and I don’t understand either. The story kicks off with Arthur and Metamorpho crossing the Sahara desert, in the precise area where Rex Mason was transformed years ago.


They crest a hill, to find the remains of a huge battle, with bodies and tanks strewn everywhere, apparently turned to stone. Metamorpho immediately smells superpowers, and finds that at least some of the men are the agents of Simon Stagg, his former father-in-law, and the man they were sent to find. While they check out the situation, neither man notices a huge sirocco that takes human form behind them. Metamorpho bombards the creature with some sort of gas, but Arthur quickly recognizes the real threat: a woman standing some yards away. He attacks, and ‘Morpho is stunned to see her power source is the selfsame Orb of Ra that changed him into his current form. As Aquaman attacks, the creature collapses onto Metamorpho…


“The kid was gone. Pulled straight into the sand by whatever-it-was, pulled by magic.” The Element Man can’t follow, but luckily for the kid, it’s not all sand under there. The witch woman drags him beneath the ground, suddenly breaking through into the hidden underground aquifer, thinking that she’s just killed her opponent.


Bad day for her, eh? The woman conjures a water sprite to fight him, and Arthur mocks it before getting a punchinnaface. Since she can’t drown him, she shoots a plum of water at him, forcing him back to the surface, where he backflips and lands at Metamorpho’s feet. “I’ll be damned… you’re all right! I thought I was going to have to have a bad conversation with Batman about your untimely death!” exclaims Rex, but Aquaman interrupts. “She’s coming.” The witch bursts through the sand, cursing them for bringing their war to her home. A sorcerous blast knocks both heroes for a loop, when suddenly, the Orb of Ra speaks to Rex through her mouth. “The power I gave you, I will give to her also…” Metamorpho quickly takes advantage of her distraction, grabbing her arm, and burning her with a corrosive substance, as Aquaman cracks her on the head. When she awakes, some time later, Metamorpho gives her the ultimatum: tell him what’s going on, and help him destroy the orb.


Rex and Arthur accompany her across the sands to a hidden oasis, where Simon Stagg, corporate jackass and purveyor of fine chili has made his camp… Along the way, Metamorpho gets the full story of their attacker. I want to say that she’s appeared before, perhaps in the 2000 “Planet DC” annuals, but I can’t remember for sure, and my usual internet resources fail me. Either way, I find her vaguely familiar…


They find and enter the Stagg Camp, but before they can find the man himself, Aquaman realizes something is odd about the water. It doesn’t look or act right at the oasis, and apparently, it’s Simon Stagg’s fault.


Metamorpho is bemused by the kid’s “youthful idealism,” explaining that he has a son who would be about Aquaman’s age now. (He WOULD? The last time I saw the kid, he was still a child… Apparently, soap opera aging is in effect for Rex Mason and the other Silver-Age heroes.) Halcyon has Stagg and his people restrained, floating in the air in rings of fire, and Metamorpho asks her nicely to let them go. Simon wakes up, and can’t believe the choice of savior Batman has made. “[He] does have a sense of humor,” replies Metamorpho, and demands an explanation. Staggsy has added the element to the water to test and date it for export and use (without going through any sort of legal channels to deal with the local people who technically own the land rights, of course.) Aquaman thinks Simon is a schmuck (true) and Halcyon suggests that if they kill him the world will be a better place (also true) but Rex plays peacemaker. Stagg challenges him, but this ain’t ‘Morpho’s first time at the rodeo. “You’ve broken international law, insulted me, and poured green goop into a priceless national resource, and you’re going to walk out of here alive. Say THANK YOU.” With that exit line, Rex heads off to take care of business…


Heh. I kind of like the parallel there, even if it feels a little bit forced in. Rex takes the Orb of Ra, and begins to break it down with his power, but Stagg’s men try to intervene. The power of Halcyon and the Sword of Atlantis keep them at bay, while the Element Man breaks the artifact down into it’s component atoms. The magical feedback threatens to kill them all, but Halcyon quickly surrounds him with a shield, seconds before a huge silent blast of magical energy… Aquaman checks on Metamorpho, but he doesn’t die that easy.


Halcyon flees, and Metamorpho unconvincingly tells the people that he underestimated her. As the former and potential Outsiders exit stage left, Aquaman remarks how hard it is to tell who the good guys and bad guys are anymore. “It IS getting harder,” says Rex. “But here’s what matters: for a fish out of water, you did well, kid.” Oy… Fish puns aren’t cool, gentlemen. Just not cool… While Rex thinks about his long-lost son, they head for pickup by an Outsiders team which consists of Kenner’s new “Control Freak Batman” with knee-jerk action, and Katana. Bats compliments ‘Morpho, but tells Aquaman that (much like Thunder before him) he did really well, but just not quite well enough to play Bruce Wayne’s reindeer games. (What a #&$&.) “I’m sorry, Arthur,” says Batman. “You’re a good kid, but you’re NO Aquaman.” I’m calling that an 8.5.


Finally, somebody calls him on his bull$#!+… and it’s about time. Batman has been ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ing his way through deserving characters, apparently because they’re not up to his standards, while forgetting that this isn’t all about him. Maybe the book needed a shot in the arm, and I don’t mind the concept of ‘Batman and The Outsiders,’ but it shouldn’t be just another case of Bruce Wayne and a bunch of people he talks down to. That’s why I don’t read the Bat-titles anymore.

Writer G. Willow Wilson is a completely unknown quantity to me, but the story went rather well, with a couple of strange bits. The “sucked down into the aquifer” scene was a mixed blessing, giving Aquaman his first moment in the sun, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had someone ELSE been on this strike-team with Rex. The story progressed well, and I liked the twist of the honorable Rex letting the supposed villain go to capture the real threat, but his worrying about his long-lost family felt a bit stapled on, especially given the issue of advanced aging. All in all, though, it’s the strongest of these entries so far, with some nice art by Josh Middleton and a not-bad story, but the Batman vignette killed some of the good faith created by the first 2o-odd pages. I know that this is probably what we’re supposed to feel at this point, and that at least some of the heroes ejected will come back to join the team later (given the preview solicits, anyway) but I don’t like the feeling of being jerked around for a story to end in a swerve. I got enough of that when I watched wrestling regularly… That sour taste puts us just beneath the break-even point, at a somewhat disappointing 2 stars.



About Author

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.


  1. There’s just gotta be a bigger point to this than Batman making sure he comes off as even more of an inaccessible, superior, insulting jerk to half of the young heros in the DC Universe. Are all of his rejects going to end up on their own team, succeed where his hand-picked Outsiders have failed, and end up actually being the Outsiders in 6 months?

    And who’s a more “Implausibly everywhere in the world in multiple, paradoxically overlapping storylines at once” character? Wolverine, Batman, Spider-Man, or…well, technically Captain America wins this round, at least until he’s resurrected…

  2. <p><i>For those who are still confused, the gist is this: he’s young, he breathes water, and I don’t understand either.

    And don’t forget the character was probably created to play off the Aquaman television show for the CW that ended up getting the axe.

    Sometimes you gotta wonder

    if the WB Left Hand

    knows what the WB Right hand

    is doing…

    Burma Shave Yourself

  3. Me thinks the goddamn Batman’s dickness level is what’s going to cause him to get the momentary axe and resurrection during final crisis.

    I though One Year Later he was supposed to be the all new more gentle Batman…goddamn Batman…

    goddamn Batman indeed.

  4. Hey, I have a question and I’m curious to know what people think. We give Tony Start a lot of crap for his Iron Dickishness. But we give Batman a good free pass for a lot of the same kind of behavior. Are we being hypocritical? Or is that we’re just used to him being the goddammed Batman and Iron Man’s move to dictator was too swift and dramatic? Maybe I just answered my own question….

  5. “Simon Stagg, corporate jackass and purveyor of fine chili has made his camp…”

    Okay, that one made my week. Bravo.

  6. I think we’re more used to the bat-dick than the Iron Fuhrer, hence the pass is given…Many of Batman’s interactions with other costumed heroes involves him treating them like manservants; I just think that it’s been played up to the Nth degree in the last few years. It’s an aspect of his personality that should be there, just not all the damn time. Tony has been portrayed as more heroic than the enforcer of the new status quo/alcoholic/control freak. I just hate that Tony is coming off like the pre-Heroes Reborn Iron Man of the 90’s( I think the story was called “The Crossing”). Didn’t that(as well as other out of character storylines) lead to the reboot back then anyway? They say things come and go in cycles, so maybe we’ll see Marvel do another reboot to draw in more readers.

  7. Wasn’t Halcyon in that overwrought Superman story with the fake krypton in the phantom zone – the one with the priest and biotech monster from Authority?

  8. Hey, I have a question and I’m curious to know what people think. We give Tony Start a lot of crap for his Iron Dickishness. But we give Batman a good free pass for a lot of the same kind of behavior. Are we being hypocritical? Or is that we’re just used to him being the goddammed Batman and Iron Man’s move to dictator was too swift and dramatic? Maybe I just answered my own question….

    Well, I don’t know that I ever give Batman a free pass. I think that he’s often written as a cock-rocket as shorthand for “he’s smarter than you.” But Batman, while brusque and insulting, isn’t quite as condescending as Iron Man

  9. Oh but it, gets better next issue. Grace nearly chews him out..oh well, that’s why the bat-titles I read he didn’t pop up that much

  10. I guess, just like some people feel that Peter should be the “common man” FOREVER, some people think Batman should be a dick FOREVER.

    And Batman never forced any hero to “register” with the US Government. Bruce is a dick, but I don’t recall him forcing any hero to do anything but get out of Gotham.

  11. I still think we’re making some allowances for one rich guy over another. Mind you, I’m just posing the question for giggles, by no means am I an Iron Man Apologist. But is Brother Eye really that different in scope than registration?

  12. Batman isn’t so much of a dick in his own books. That’s why I don’t see why he’s being one here. I like the Bruce in Dini’s issues. Same with the Morrison ones when they finally come out.

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