Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna (i)
The book opens with a ocean liner at sea coming under attack by a group of unseen attackers, whose very appearance seems to instill outright terror in anyone who gets a look at them. We then look in on Nightwing, who is having a rooftop meeting with Roy (aka. Arsenal) about his joining a new team, and we see Dick agrees to join because apparently he feels a group of complete strangers is exactly the type of team format he would be comfortable within. We then jump back a month, to New Orleans where we find the daughter of the Black Lightning has taken to battling crime, and her ablity to control her densisty, makes her a formiable crime-fighter, as a group of thugs quickly discover. After we see her contacted by Roy about membership in his new team, we jump to Metropolis, a couple weeks later where a young woman named Grace is busy putting on a display of her super strength for a couple drunks who got a little too rowdy in the club where she acts as the bouncer. As Roy steps in to make her an offer to join his team, the book jumps forward another week, where we see Roy makes contact with Metamorpho, and given he was going out of his mind from sheer boredom at S.T.A.R. Labs Rex eagerly accepts the offer. We then jump to the present day where we see the group has gathered together, and Nightwing is not pleased to see the robot who was responsible for the deaths of Donna & Lilith is part of Roy's group. However the fighting ends when a major threat surfaces, and the team is called to action.
Batman and the Outsiders has always been a book I've been meaning to pick up, as I stumble across it quite a bit during my visits to the four for a dollar bins. The cast certainly looks interesting, and I've been a big fan of Metamorpho thanks to his stint in Justice League Europe, but other than the issue where the book crossed over with my beloved New Teen Titans, my exposure to the Outsiders has been limited to a handful of guest-appearances in other titles. Now this new Outsider series doesn't really look like it has any real strong ties to the original book, as except for Black Lightning’s daughter, and Metamorpho, the book looks to be it's own entity. I guess Nightwing could be seem as having a link to Batman, and his reluctance to form a team most likely mirrors Batman, as somehow I can't imagine Batman was looking to be part of a team in those early issues. Still, with no real attachment to the previous book, I can enter this book with no expectations. Now the cast certainly looks interesting, as it's littered with established characters who I'm quite fond of (Nightwing & Metamorpho), characters who I'm quite familiar with & don't actively dislike (Jade & Arsenal), and then there's the new kids, of whom I have to say I rather enjoyed the tough girl attitude of Grace. My only concern is that Grace & Thunder both look like they fill the same role power wise within the group, but then it's a little early to be overly concerned.
I do have to say that I like how quickly this book has gotten itself into gear, as the trend lately with team books is to use these early issues to slowly bring its cast of characters together, but this book not only has all but one member of the team on board, but they also have their first threat that they have to face. The book give all the cast their moment in the spotlight, as well as nicely underlining the potential hot spots when it come to tension, as it's clear Nightwing is going to have serious problems with Indigo, and the Thunder & Grace look like they aren't exactly going to take well to Nightwing's rather abrupt manner. I also like the idea that Roy is largely responsible for bringing this group together, and as such there's also some fun character moments, like Roy's final line to Dick after he agrees to become part of the team, and the little exchange that Roy has with Grace has some fun playing up the idea that these two have a past. In fact Grace almost comes across a female version of Roy, as the two clearly operate on the same wavelength. The scenes with Metamorpho are also a bit curious, given he's been running around in the pages of Doom Patrol & Birds of Prey seemingly back to his old self, but in this book he comes across as confused. I'm guessing there's more to his situation than meets the eye, and hopefully this odd behavior will be explained soon.
Tom Raney has never been one to inspire much confidence in his willingness to commit to a book, as while he's a wonderful artist, as I don't think I've ever seen him deliver more the three consecutive issues on a monthly book. He also seems to be jumping on to his next project, right about the moment that fans start getting excited about his work. Now one look at his highly detailed work and it's pretty easy to see why he might have difficulty keeping up with a monthly book, but it's his continued shifting to the next project that leaves me a bit concerned. Still, there's no sense making too much of my concerns this early in the game. It certainly gets off to an impressive start, as the book opens with a wonderfully chilling sequence where we see a crew of a cargo ship is set upon by a group of unseen attackers. I also have to say that I love the new visual appearance of Metamorpho, as he truly looks like an elemental man now, with the ugly bumps, and the clouds of vapors that seem to be drifting away from his body. I also love the black, seemingly vacant eyes. Roy's new costume is also pretty decent, and Grace's tattoo laden arms are nicely reflective of her personality. Now the outfits that Indigo & Thunder are sporting are a bit much, but then again since the book in aimed at young males, I guess it's to be expected.
A pretty solid first issue that stands up as some of Judd Winick's strongest work yet. I really like the fact that this team was brought together so quickly, as while there's something to be said for taking things slow, and building a team dynamic before throwing the group on it's first mission, I have to say the old school comic fan in me rather enjoyed the full speed ahead approach that was taken on this book. From a sheer entertainment standpoint, it should be a lot of fun to see how this group performs in a heated conflict, against a pretty formidable opponent. I also have to credit Judd Winick for the introduction of Grace who looks like character who's likely to emerge as a favorite of mine, as she manages to overcome her rather run-of-the-mill power by displaying a highly engaging personality. In fact there's no real weak links in this cast, and with Jade coming on board next month, it looks like I've found yet another title I'll be adding to my ever growing pile of books. Some interesting character conflicts as well, as the robot that killed Donna & Lilith looks to be part of the cast, which should result in some nice tension.
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