Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna (i)
The book opens with the revelation that Grodd's attack is actually a fairly well orchestrated affair, and is far from being a random attack upon humanity in general, as President Lex Luthor is in New York City, and Air Force One is purposely destroyed to prevent his escape. We then see the newly formed Outsiders have decided to take the attack directly to Grodd, as Nightwing believes the ape warriors that are carrying out the attacks are being mentally controlled by Grodd and as such taking down Grodd will in effect remove the collective will that is driving these attacks. However, while the group is prepared for Grodd thanks to mental dampeners that shield them from his telepathic attacks, Grodd has also brought some cool toys to the battle, as he encases the island of Manhattan in an energy dome that disrupts the electronics of anything that tries to pass through it. We then see Lex's escape from the city is halted by this dome, and his helicopter is sent out of control to the ground far below. As he's rescued by Jade, we look in on another part of the city as Thunder & Grace have to work together to bring a jet fighter to a halt after it passed through the barrier & was speeding through the city out of control. The issue then ends with Lex encountering a very unexpected villain who looks to be working with Grodd.
A pretty straightforward action filled affair that benefits tremendously from its strong use of several big name villains. I've always been of the mind that in the opening issues of a new book one of the easiest methods of generating a sense of excitement around a book is the use of fan favorite villains, and Judd Winick seems to have this very idea in mind when he wrote this issue as in addition to Gorilla Grodd, we are also have Lex Luthor, and then there's the surprise appearance of another big name villain on the final page. Now Grodd is pretty much the big, bad raging beast he's always been, but this issue does also nicely hint at the character's formidable mind, as he's also brought some fairly impressive comic book technology to the party. As for Lex Luthor, I must say I don't really know all that much about the character since he became president, as oddly enough he's been isolated largely to the Superman books since move was made. However, of the handful of guest-appearances he's made in the books I do collect, this has to be far and away the strongest portrayal of the character I've come across yet, as Judd Winick does a wonderful job conveying his almost casual manner in which he moves through this rather fantastic situation, with his calm reaction when his helicopter is knocked out of the sky being my favorite moment in the issue. Then there's the mystery villain, but I'll say nothing more than his appearance is a genuine surprise.
I guess since it is their book I should also take some time to make mention of the Outsiders themselves, as the group comes across as a pretty interesting collection of characters, and this issue offers up some fairly impressive heroic feats for the group's members to accomplish. Now I have to say I found the Indigo's dictionary speak to be a bit off-putting, as it's not nearly as cute and/or amusing as Judd Winick believes it to be, but I did rather enjoy the way Metamorpho interacts with the character, and the book also makes pretty solid use of Rex's elemental powers. I also enjoyed the technology that their new benefactor provides, as it's about time a group of heroes that were racing in to battle Grodd had some measure of protection from his debilitating mental blasts. Plus, while I've already mentioned this in the above column, I love how Jade was introduced into the story, as given the sheer number of heroes that call Manhattan home one would have to like one's chances of being rescued if you found yourself trapped in a disabled helicopter speeding toward the ground. However the real highlight of this issue would have to be the fairly impressive display of sheer guts & brawn that is put on by Thunder & Grace, as the two combined their powers to bring a crashing jet fighter to a halt before it can slam into any buildings.
Tom Raney is turning in some truly lovely work in these pages as one can't help but be impressed by the sheer scale of the action in these pages. From the explosive credit-page shot of Air Force one being blown to kingdom come by a dive bombing monkey, to the almost over the top sequence where we see Thunder & Grace work together to bring the speeding jet fighter to a halt, the art looks fantastic. I also have to credit the art for making the villains of this issue look truly villainous, as Grodd comes across as quite menacing, with the panel of him holding Roy off the ground being a particularly effective shot. The art also does some nice work conveying the levelheaded, decidedly nonplused attitude of Lex Luthor, as how can one not love the sense of calm that he projects when his helicopter is speeding toward the ground. The last page also offers up a fairly solid reveal moment, and the mystery villain looks about as evil as the scene calls for, and the stylized look on this villain's minions made me smile. My only quibble is that the scene where Thunder & Grace stop the plane the street is devoid of the extra little touches that would really sell the scene (e.g. the parked cars, store front signs). In fact the city this plane makes its crash landing in looks positively generic. I did like the cover visual though, as it's a clever visual perspective shot.
A fairly enjoyable issue that plays to all the strengths of a good old-fashioned slugfest, as we have a trio of big name villains, some fairly intense action to move things along, and most importantly the book takes the time to give all the members of the team some time in the spotlight. Given this is early in the game it's nice to see that in spite of the overwhelming nature of the threat, the material is still quite aware of the fact that the heroes need some exposure, as there's a trio of characters who are largely new creations, and this issue essentially hands over the most impressive heroic feat to two of the new kids, as how can one not walk away impressed by the scene where Thunder & Grace stop that jet fighter. This issue also makes wonderful use of Lex Luthor, who comes across as extraordinarily cool & collected under pressure, and I have to say that I was delighted with the scene where he's convinced he'll be saved. This issue also offers up a wonderful surprise finish that I'm fully convinced no fan will see coming (provided they hadn't received any advanced warning about this villain's arrival).
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