Current Reviews


Sunday Slugfest - Outsiders #24

Posted: Sunday, May 29, 2005
By: Keith Dallas

Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Carlos D’Anda

Publisher: DC Comics

Average Rating:

Shawn Hill:
Shaun Manning:
James Redington:

Shawn Hill

Plot: Like the Teen Titans last week, the Outsiders are betrayed by one of their own, who takes out the team systematically, if only to score a “shot across the bow.”

Comments: This is a better version of the story that appeared in Titans’ last issue. Superboy’s betrayal was brutal but predictable, while Indigo’s revelation in this issue is kind of a neat twist. Winick manages to sum up her conflicted history, but after all the effort put into reforming the character and forgiving her her costly initial mistakes in our time continuum, he does manage to pull the rug out in an effective way. Maybe it’s because, unlike SuperLuthor, she’s not just a rampaging force, she’s a very verbal, revealing a hidden and disquieting agenda. Her future history gives her an edge on her foes, not to mention her months of study and preparation among their ranks, if all this new Braniac says is true.

It’s a fairly decompressed issue, as not much happens but one long battle (where the teammates try individual, uncoordinated attacks), followed by some wound-licking and mustache-twirling, and then a glimpse of next week’s threat. It’s hard to believe these creators think going back to the Graduation Day well is a good idea, but then they’ve already improved on the original with this issue.

Art-wise: Carlos D’Anda has really stepped up to the plate on the art chores. Oh, his female anatomy is a bit extreme (these girls have figures that move beyond the hourglass and into the vespid) -- and I don’t quite get why all the Braniacs have bony appendages (is Hellboy going to be making a cameo?) -- but he definitely puts his own stamp on the characters. His battle scenes are intense, his character definition clear, and his inking ably contrasts emotional shadows with important details of expression and costume.

Sexism watch: Judd, please stop turning off Jade’s power at a whim. Has she
ever actually been a useful fighter yet in this series?

Shaun Manning

Although Jeph Loeb made the logical connection that, if there is a Brainiac in the present and a Brainiac 5 in the thirtieth century, there might be more heroes and villains carrying the name, not much has been done with the concept since Loeb’s run on Superman. There, Brainiac evolved into Brainiac 2.0, even as his far-future descendent (mark 13) was reshaping Metropolis. Now, Judd Winick and Geoff Johns revive the time-traveling lineage as the traitor in the Outsiders team is revealed to be the previously unknown Brainiac 8.

Picking right up from this month’s Teen Titans, Outsiders #24 begins with Indigo revealed as the traitor, a malevolent cyborg from the distant future. After a recap of her origin (which led to the death of Donna Troy), Brainiac 8 proceeds to thrash the entire team in rapid succession. Arsenal, Thunder, Grace, and Indigo’s former lover, Shift, are all dispatched with ease. When the team regroups, they discover that the Teen Titans have sparred with a renegade hero of their own–Superboy. With each group defeated and demoralized, things don’t look good when the next big threat arrives.

The first two parts of the “Insiders” crossover are basically issue-long fight scenes against a friendly face. In Teen Titans, Superboy goes on a rampage, apparently under some sort of mind control. Outsiders, however, wraps up the recent “traitor” plot thread by explaining why the team seems to have the worst luck, getting ownd by super villains every other week, unknowingly taking orders from Deathstroke, and having to suffer a guest appearance by John Walsh. Neither book has offered a strong reason why this crossover should be happening, but with the teams sharing so much history one has to assume that it’s leading somewhere.

Writer Judd Winick’s strength is in his dialogue and the relationships he builds between characters. His terms on Green Lantern and Exiles, as well as his current stint on Green Arrow, shine brightest when the characters “stop being polite, and start getting real.” ::ahem:: So it could be said that a melee issue will not be his highlight of any given series. Yet, the fight is compelling because of what’s come before. The Outsiders who never trusted Indigo are more than willing to spring into action, but others, like Shift, refuse to accept their ally’s true identity. This is made more moving by the realization that, fifteen minutes before the big reveal, Shift had been imprisoned as the traitor himself.

Carlos D’Anda’s art benefits from his own inky shadowing, as otherwise-standard illustrations grow fierce through heightened contrast. Guy Major’s coloring also evokes just the right sleazy neon feel to the Outsiders.

Because it’s Summer Crossover Madness time, it should be noted that “Insiders” almost certainly ties in to at least one of Infinite Crisis miniseries. While the quality of the minis themselves has been hit or miss thus far, many ongoing series have grown more exciting by association. With chief architect Geoff Johns ramping things up in Teen Titans and JSA, other creators seem eager to get in on the fun. Here, Winick produces the most action-packed issue of Outsiders to date, cashing in the weight of high drama he’s been building for two years.

James Redington

Continuing on from last week’s Teen Titans #24, the Outsiders deal with the reveal of Indigo as Brainiac 8.0.

From those who don’t know, Indigo was an android from the future who Cyborg re-built and she started to work with the Outsiders, gaining most of their trust and having some type of relationship with Shift (who is a clone – sort of – of Metamorpho). I haven’t actually brought a copy of Outsiders since about issue #8 after the whole Metamorpho/Shift storyline. Unfortunately, the title was a victim of me cutting down.

To bring you up to date on the crossover with Teen Titans. Superboy discovers that he is the clone of both Superman and Lex Luthor, and he has been struggling with admitting this revelation to the rest of the Titans. Robin, his best pal, knows this and has been helping him though it. In the last issue of Teen Titans Superboy is mind controlled by Lex Luthor and pretty much takes down all the Teen Titans in about two minutes, all the while trying to fight his programming. We have some lovely scenes where you can really feel the emotion as Superboy cries through his eyes burning with heat vision.

At the end of the issue Robin, with broken arm, calls The Outsiders for help. And it is then that Indigo reveals herself as Brainiac 8.0 as “the time has come”… or something to that effect.

This issue of Outsiders is pretty much a copy of the Teen Titans as the Outsiders face off against the new Brainiac and get their arse handed to them. There are some nice character moments between Shift and the now transformed Indigo as he can’t accept what has happened, BUT to be frank, that is about it. This issue, like Titans #24 seems like set up for the next two parts. It’s good set up, but I felt more with the Titans issue purely because Superboy has been around now for over 10 years (our time), and I haven’t really taken any notice of Indigo. I ask myself, did I really need to buy this issue to enjoy the crossover? I guess I will have to wait until the next issue of Titans to find out. This issue of Outsiders did end with an exciting final page, but I do worry about Superman’s part in all this – I thought at the end of the shockingly bad “King of The World” Superman story from a few years back that he destroyed all the Superman Robots. I know he mentioned a couple survived to play with the Superdog, etc. (what has happened to Krypto since he was given to Conner? I thought he was Conner’s friend at Titans Tower. He must be with the Kents… something for another time I guess), BUT where did this whole army of Superman Robots come from? And you would have thought that after the a Superbot killed Donna Troy, Superman might have gone looking to make sure there were no more about… oh well I guess he didn’t really think it would a problem because when a Superbot kills someone, he or she will be back alive in a few years.

Back to the review…

I like Judd Winick’s work, but I felt a little let down by this issue. Brainiac 8.0 seemed to walk through the team one by one. The team didn’t fight as a team, and the walk was rushed. I did like the reveal of Indigo’s grandfather teaming with Luthor, and his line about servants and his kin. That was cool.

The art by Carlos D'Anda was not suited to this comic. Don’t get me wrong; it’s nice art, but I just felt that following on from Teen Titans #24 it needed to be stronger and more like a Superhero comic as apposed to Carlos’s Vertigo work where he excels. That said, there was something nice about the way he draws women especially Indigo/Brainiac 8.0.

I am looking forward to the next part, but if Superman doesn’t turn up to sort out the mess that he has caused with all these bloody Superbots, I might just not bother with the last part. How can the JLA be annoyed with Bats because of the Brother satellite and not at Supes for creating Superbots that have killed people while he did nothing to stop them?

Oh well… onwards and upwards I guess.

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