ďBrothers in Blood Part One: Small PotatoesĒ
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Chriscross (p), Sean Parsons (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
I really do not understand the popularity of this book. I know a ton of people love it, but for the life of me I canít see why. It features truly annoying characters, poor writing from someone Iíve come to think of as a solid if not great writer, and a fill-in artist after a measly four issues. The opening arc had some promise, but with each passing issue I find that Iím no longer interested in this team especially given that the reason Iím reading the book (my affinity for the character of Nightwing) is hardly on the page at all.
Once again, weíre given a rather weak and implausible storyline that Winick is hoping we donít think too hard about. Rather than use top tier bad guys like Luthor, Grodd, and the Joker, though, weíre treated to Shockwave, Pinky, er, I mean, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain getting their collective butts kicked by the team. I like obscure villains as much as the next guy, but those are a little out there even for a team of misfits like this one. I have no knowledge of Brother Blood, but heís seems to be a bottom of the barrel as well. The fact that these bad guys were hand picked doesnít help sell me on the titleís strength, nor does the Arsenalís mysterious contact. I donít know who s/he is, and I canít say I care.
In terms of characterization Winick is really laying an egg in Outsiders. If Wizard ever decided to do a year-end ďLamest New CharacterĒ Indigo should be their inaugural winner. I realize sheís a robot and doesnít understand a lot of the current slang and colloquialisms, but does she have to go on and on about what she thinks the other characters or call attention to her ignorance. Iím really hoping that Winick doesnít use her as the Outsiders version of Giles every time the team comes across a new foe, as her page long exposition about Brother Blood was the clunkiest thing Iíve read all year.
Aside from the worldís most annoying android, the rest of the team isnít anything to write home about either. Grace talks way, way too much but I think her relationship with Arsenal could turn out to be pretty entertaining. Metamorphoís constant questions arenít endearing like I think Winick intends them to be, and Jade just seems to be there to add a little bit of power to an otherwise weak team. Their interactions can be fun, but for the most part I found myself cringing more often than Iíd like. I read comics for characters first, plot and action second, and when I canít really find one new character I lie that does not bode well for my continued interest in the title.
Chriscross steps in for Tom Raney, and I didnít really notice much of a difference. Iím an unabashed Raney fan so I donít think thatís faint praise. No aspects of the poor work he turned in on his recent JLA can be found here, and Iím glad to be able to say that. His characters are expressive, his backgrounds detailed, and line work is solid even if some of his action scenes are a little hard to follow. I have no real clue what happened on the first page, Frag is ill defined, and Metamorphoís powers arenít really conveyed clearly (but that last point may be Winickís fault as well). Aside from those relatively minor complaints, I was impressed with Chriscross enough to change my mind about his work.
There are times when I can see why people love this book, but on the whole Iím just disappointed with it. I was really hoping to see Nightwing (one of my favorite DC characters) take charge of this team the way he did during the Obsidian Age in JLA, but that hasnít been the case. Instead, Winick has focused on new or unused characters from the DCU, and that pretty much takes away my reason for reading Outsiders.
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