reviewbubble.jpgOr “A Mystery Within An Enigma Wrapped In Bacon and Deep-Fried In Batter.”

Outsiders3.jpgRecently, I mentioned on the forums how DC’s Shadowpact comic was adhering to the fanboy rule of thumb regarding the Star Trek movie franchise: the odd-numbered issues leave me cold, whereas the even-numbered ones give me hope to come back for the next time ’round. With this issue, Outsiders officially joins the Roddenberry Rondelay, with an issue that adds yet another layer of questions, a terribly unfortunate tonsorial decision and some serious bad behavior.

Outsiders1.jpgThe issue starts with a patented Judd Winick-ism, as we focus on an unfamiliar character, movie star Taylor Clay. Taylor has been forced by budgeting concerns to film in Sydney, Australia instead of New York City, and is terribly whiny about it. After a couple pages of dialogue where we sympathize more with Taylor’s agent than with anything the namby-pamby “action hero” has to say, we cut to a mysterious armored figure in a futuristic aircraft. She fires a torpedo, which lands mere inches from Taylor’s feet. I don’t hold high hopes for these characters long-term survival, barring a miracle (or unless this is an origin sequence), as we cut to the wide shot…


Thaddeus Bodog’s got some ‘splaining to do! We cut to the Pequod, mobile strike platform for Nightwing and his Amazing Friends, where we get a short history lesson regarding General Ned Ludd, a British freedom fighter whose men destroyed mechanical looms and stocking frames to save the livelihoods of the artisans who made fabrics. The Parliament was forced to actually pass a law making Frame Breaking an offense punishable by death, and made Ludd’s name synonymous with the hatred of machinery.


So, we’ve learned two things: history can be fun, and Sivana’s plans have more twists than a back alley in Marrakesh. The mysterious armored woman is Bodog’s female cohort from last issue, as it turns out that ALL electrical activity in the blast zone is affected, including that of the human mind. Sivana’s “smart bomb” ironically leaves the city of Sydney rather dumb, with everyone within the city losing their memory… Or at least that part of their memory that would allow them to function. They maintain their knowledge of language, of basic concepts, and apparently have enough muscle memory to walk, but not much else.


“…looking for a teacher.” That’ll make your blood run cold. As likable of his general demeanor is, it’s a little bit horrifying to see the true depths of Sivana’s sociopathic black heart. Destroying the minds of hundreds of thousands of people, even in the hopes of a brave new world, is one of the most terrible acts I’ve ever witnessed in a comic book. One of the others (though admitted a LITTLE bit less horrible) comes a few pages later, as founding Outsider Katana sheds her sleek, beautiful Rising Sun costume for a two tone mess that makes her look like a 16 year old boy.


Seriously, I see what they were going for here, the thought process behind the change is sound. Heck, this costume fits much better with the overall team look (meshing better with Metamorpho’s new exterior and Grace’s “army surplus/adult novelty” store vibe) but it still gains the first impression of “Bleah!” The haircut is a little too Travis Bickle for me, and the nostalgiac in me appreciates the echoes the old Jim Aparo Katana costume from the 80’s, but this just doesn’t work for me. I don’t see any evidence of her swords, for one thing, and the beaky mask is annoying, too. Hopefully it’ll grow on me.

With all spandex whining out of the way, we return to the story properl. Even though he’s gone 21st century, Sivana still has enough 1940’s-mad-scientist in him to appreciate the giant killer robot motif, but finds that even 30 feet of Titanium isn’t enough to stop the combined onslaught of Grace & Thunder. It’s a little thing, but having the team “strongmen” be female is one of the things I (and Nightwing, apparently) really dig about the Outsiders dynamic. It gives them a different edge, and it works for me.


And the swords are back! Sadly, that drugged dart once again gives Sivana the upper hand (a five foot man in his fifties has to pick his battles when faces with a team of young metahumans), but Winick surprises me with what comes next. Sivana steps into view, completely breaks convention and explains to the Outsiders his real plan. “We’ve been on the same side all along!”

That intriguing yet strange cliff-hanger gives me a dual perspective. Dramatically, it couldn’t have come at a better time, but part of me wanted more out of this issue. I guess that’s the job of a good ending. Still, we got something last issue DIDN’T give us, a couple of answers, and the promise of more to come next time ’round. With any luck, it’ll break the Odd/Even curse, and give us some answers re: Grace’s origins. I’ve heard some really terrible theories about her, not limited to Martian heritage, Durlan heritage, and/or being a fully functional hermaphrodite, none of which is a very satisfying reveal. Still, I was entertained, and it held my interest, earning Outsiders #42 a well-done 3 stars.


Discuss this issue in the Major Spoilers Forum.


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.

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