Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Sean Parsons (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
With the Huntress being called upon to take Arsenal's place in the Outsiders while he recovers from his gunshot wounds, we see the Outsiders stumble across a unsettling crime scene where they find a bus full of people who were roasted alive. As they investigate they discover these murders are part of a demon resurrection ceremony, and while they locate the site of the ceremony, they don't arrive in time to stop it.
I do like the idea of the Huntress being brought in to replace the injured Arsenal, and while I'm not a huge fan of the character, I am a fan of the element of tension that she brings to the book. While I never read the miniseries, from what I've heard about it the Huntress/Nightwing miniseries from a few years back established there was an attraction between the two characters, and this issue makes it pretty clear that Judd Winick is going to play up this element which should make things interesting, as the Huntress is exactly the wrong person for Dick to become involved with, and from a dramatic standpoint this is exactly the type of relationship that tends to be the most interesting. There's also the simple fact that the Huntress has never been much of a team player, as while Grant Morrison tried to fit her into the JLA, most of the entertainment value from that experiment came from her inability to play nice with others, and I fully expect this to be the case in this series as well. Of course she may find this team a better fit as it's more a collection of individuals than a team that is already host to a long history, and numerous long-standing interpersonal relationships. In fact I'm rather looking forward to next issue where the Huntress will presumably meet the rest of her teammates. There's also a pretty nice little scene between Metamorpho II and Indigo, as we see these two are forming a genuine-feeling friendship.
Tom Raney has his moments where his characters suddenly gain eyes that are a bit too large for their faces, with the Huntress falling victim to this curious visual event a couple times in this issue. However for the most part Tom Raney's work is wonderfully detailed, and he perfectly captures the big impact moments of this issue, with our first look inside the burned out interior of the bus being a truly nightmarish visual. The demon resurrection ceremony is also well presented, as the build up with the giant sword results in a truly memorable visual where we discover the added price of this ritual. The action when the three women smash their way into the warehouse is also quite strong, with Thunder's ground pound attack being a particularly cool visual. I do have to ask what is the deal with Dick's hair when they are questioning the Tattooed Man though, as it looks like it's glowing, rather than lighter for the purpose of disguising his identity.
I guess it's just something I'm going to have to get used to if I plan on enjoying Judd Winick's work, as he seems to feel that the only valid take one can have on a character is to have them forever proving how cool they are by having them continually pointing out how utterly lame something else is. There's also a couple moments where Judd Winick offers up a one-liner instead of a genuine discussion, with the Huntress' dismissal on Nightwing's valid concerns with her funny one-liner being a scene where I found myself a bit annoyed at Judd Winick's willingness to let the matter sit unresolved simply because it wouldn't be as much fun to dig any deeper. There's also the fact that the big, bad villain of this arc is a resurrected demon, which in my book is not exactly a plot that generates much excitement, as there's only so much one can do with a demon before you end up in familiar territory that has played out numerous times in the past. I guess I should be thankful that the demon in question isn't a rhyming demon, as the only thing more irksome than learning the main villain of a story is a generic demon, is being subjected to a writer forcing their dialogue into verse form. I was also a bit annoyed by how quickly this book dropped the Brother Blood story-line, as it's never good form to drop a story at the halfway point, and expect readers who want the complete story to look to the pages of another title.
Next Stop, The Fiery Infernos Of Hell:
A pretty enjoyable issue as Judd Winick know how to deliver engaging character interaction, and while I found the sequence between Nightwing and the Huntress to be a bit curt, and deserving of more attention than it received, I'm happy to see the Huntress is making her way on this team, as she should make for some fun, decidedly awkward moments. I also have to give the book credit for opening with a fairly creepy sequence as we see a bus full of passengers is killed in a truly horrific manner, and this is nicely contrasted by the somewhat humorous conversation that we receive between the soon to be resurrected demon host and the mob boss. There's also a cute little exchange between the three women members of the team as they bust into the warehouse looking to stop the ceremony, though I would like to see a little more personality in the dialogue, as the lines offered up in this exchange are entirely interchangeable, and none of it really reflects the respective personality of the character speaking.
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