Current Reviews


Outsiders #4

Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2003
By: Tim Hartnett

Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Chriscross and Sean Parsons

Publisher: DC

Dear Friends:

I'm interrupting my review to bring you this important message. Each month, tens of thousands of readers, just like you, visit SBC to receive the best reviews, news, columns and interviews in the business. Unfortunately, one is quick to notice that only about .0007% of you post on the message boards. This is not to mention the much smaller number that posts on a consistent basis.

It's no lie---SBC needs to hear from you. It's readers like you that justify the existence of this site. We want to make sure we're doing it right, for you! Sending us an e-mail with your comments does the trick, but posting on the boards helps spring discussions about the wonderful things we love called comics. It also gives us an opportunity for us to meet our readers, and hear what they think about the reviews, news, columns, interviews, etc. We always appreciate your continued support, but your feedback and thoughts are what we hold most dear. If you have something to say about anything, even non-comic related subjects, there's certainly a forum here for you. Just click on the link at the bottom of this review.

---Tim H.

On with the Outsiders:

Judd Winick is writing the kind of book I always wanted to read---a superhero team that actually works together to accomplish a task. This has been done before, to an extent, but most modern books of this nature depict one-sided plots with excessively dark, uninteresting characters. Judd amazes me with the effort he puts into Outsiders. Every issue, a new facet or perk comes up in the book, but he manages to keep it straightforward enough for a fast-paced read.

Judd starts out with sheer action, and not the kind of fight scene where the artist just draws from the writer's script. Judd actually reintroduces us to the characters with the long-forgotten plot devices known as, "captions", and immediately takes us into the latest battle of the Outsiders. Notice how Winick keeps the characterizations consistent enough that the reader can appreciate any speech or twist during the battle, and it doesn't sound like it could come from any of the other characters.

Next, the book tones down a bit, and we're treated to a scene where the Outsiders receive their "stipends" for the first time. This is an example of an excellent way of portraying a superhero team. Without padding the stories into several issues, Winick manages to show two battles and many different sides of the team in just twenty-two pages. The "stipends" help keep the fun going outside battle scenes, as well as accent the ongoing subplot of "lame villains." There're also the great scenes between Nightwing and Arsenal, and the mysterious character Arsenal associates with (who I personally think is pretty obvious). I'm glad that Winick has found a strong, central, character in Arsenal. It adds to the consistent status-quo.

What I'm trying to say is, I haven't seen a writer manage a team so brilliantly since Chris Claremont did X-Men. The portrayal is smooth and fast, but not to the point where it leads to a cheap cliffhanger. Winick also takes the time to conclude just the right amount of information from previous issues, while leaving enough suspense to wait for the next one. It's the perfect combination of writing motifs, and the sign of an extremely talented writer.

The big letdown this month comes from the art of Crisscross. Cross' figures are very volatile, in addition to being very cartoonish and undetailed. It really leaves me longing for Tom Raney's return; his absence explained from coming down with pneumonia. Nightwing has Hitler hair half the time.

It's quite understandable that this book won't appeal to a sizeable portion of the comic book reading world. But I am proud to see that sales are on the constant upswing, as it clearly shows that a large number of fans would like to see more of this kind of work. You certainly won't find Geoff Johns doing it in the sister title, Teen Titans.

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