"The Insiders, Part Four"
Writer: Judd Winick
Art: Carlos D'Anda
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: As Lex Luthor and Brainiac continue with their plan to destroy the Teen Titans and the Outsiders, Superboy is freed from Lex Luthor's control when Wonder Girl is attacked by Lex, and she begs Superboy to help her. However, Indigo isn't quite able to pull off her escape from Brainiac's influence, as she's only able to assert a temporary control, during which she begs Shift to kill her while she has some measure of control.
Comments: There's a reason why Avenger fans made a big fuss over Hawkeye's death, while the Vision's destruction has yet to generate any attention, and the reason is because even the most casual comic reader knows that cybernetic characters get an automatic free pass, and as such Judd Winick's bid to convey a sense of loss in the final pages of this issue felt a bit desperate. Of course, it's also a little difficult to sell the illusion that a character has died when the final scene of the issue is a sequence where another dead character is making their return from the dead. However, even if I was to accept that this issue was really offering up the death of a character, I really can't get all that worked up over this loss, as the main reason why I stopped picking up this title several months back was because I had come to the realization that I didn't have any emotional connection with the cast. This return visit for the crossover has only served to reaffirm my belief that Judd Winick's efforts in this area of the title hasn't made any improvement. Now I guess I could focus my attention on the Teen Titans who are also on hand for this final issue, but except for the highly predictable, throwaway scene where Wonder Girl's pleas are suddenly able to free Superboy from Lex Luthor's control, the Teen Titans are given precious little panel time as Judd Winick's clearly more interested in playing with his own toys, which defeats the whole point of having a crossover. In the end, this was twenty-two pages of uninspired action with the occasional bit of artificially inflated dramatics thrown in and the only good thing that I came away from this crossover with was that I was comforted by the knowledge that I did the right thing when I dropped the Outsiders from my pull list several months back. It's also a little disappointing that this story had Lex Luthor and Brainiac on hand to play the villains of this story and the best plan the writing could come up with was to kill the super-heroes.
I wasn't a big fan of the writing, and the sketchy style of Carlos D'Anda did little to change my less than favourable impression of the issue. There are some artists who are able to deliver some very effective looking work using this style, but Carlos D'Anda isn't one of them as his work looks like it's in desperate need of an inker who can seriously tighten up his art. The big impact moments of the issue are also poorly served by the art. In the scene where Wonder Girl calls for Superboy's help, the art utterly fails to convey the punishment that she's suffering. The same holds true for the big moment where Starfire is supposed to be cutting loose as it's little better than a light show, with absolutely no wow factor. The emotional angst of the final pages was also a bit weak, as Shift's torment is seriously hampered by some goofy looking facial contortions. The art also could have done a better job of selling the idea that Thunder lost her wig, as the character's appearance just suddenly changes from one panel to the next, which was a unnecessary bit of visual confusion.
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