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Batman and the Outsiders #5

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2008
By: Bryant Frattalone

Chuck Dixon
Julian Lopez, Bit (i), Marta Martinez (c)
DC Comics
Plot: Batman and company endeavor to stop a missile launch.

Commentary: Yeah, itís one of the oldest plots in comicdom but that being said Dixon, Lopez and Bit are still cranking out one of the best darned team books on the shelves. The art is still crisp and kinetic and is getting better and better with each passing issue. It should be noted that Marta Martinezís colors verily jump off the pages. Itís really disappointing to say but this book outshines the dismal JLA which is supposed to be DCís premiere super-team. The Outsiders click and fire on every cylinder. I think what is making this book work so well is that Dixon is taking the concept of team to heart and seriously. Batman has assembled a truly impressive and effective strike force and Dixon doesnít rely on forced antagonism or forced romance to try and create a tension and drama that isnít there. His writing is very natural and the conflicts amongst the team are based on past established history and seem to be organic to the plot. Even when these heroes bicker they can set aside their differences and forge ahead for the greater cause. Again, compare this writing to the juvenile antics of the JLA month in and month out.

Dixonís Batman is the strongest on the stands right now. He maintains control of his team but has chosen them with much thought and itís impressive to see him clear the way into the launch facility this issue only to let them strut their stuff. Hereís Batman as the consummate leader and mentor. Heís not there to be everyoneís friend; heís there to be the stone these blades are whetted upon. Another strong aspect of this TEAM book is that all the characters are always in play. There is a real Mission Impossible vibe amongst this ensemble cast. No one is just standing around because the writer doesnít really know what to do with them. All the heroesí powers are used to spectacular display. In one panel we get Ollieís arrows, Kitanaís sword and Batgirls batarangs and martial prowess all in play. Individual strengths are highlighted as Batgirl takes out an invisible foe and states very matter-of-factly, ďYou smell like strawberries.Ē On two occasions Brion doesnít just shoot a generic and vaguely defined power beam as so often happens in comics. He explains the physics of what he is accomplishing with his powers and it makes his powers all the more believable and awe-inspiring. Metamorpho is the light hearted changling having fun with his powers and being creative. Every characters individual personality shines through so we donít just get dynamic action but keen character insights too.

I do have two bones to pick though. One is the character of Francine Langstrom. There are enough well proportioned and lithely fit female characters in this book. Mrs. Langstrom doesnít have to be portrayed as the hot scientist. It actually takes away from her credibility as Batmanís scientific intelligence arm and de facto Oracle. Anyone remember the character of Christmas Jones from the Bond film The World Is Not Enough? Did anyone believe for a second that girl was a nuclear physicist? I trow not. Tone down on the cheesecake from Mrs. Langstrom will ya guys? The other problem I have is with the decision to leverage Ralph and Sue Dibney in their current status at DC. First of all, not everyone read 52, DC. They were secondary characters in their best days and I know editorial probably thinks theyíve done something 'cool' with these two but personally I donít. Not knowing their current history and status quo I was confused by their presence here and didnít realize until the end what was going on with Gunhawk and his mate. A little more exposition in that regard would have helped. The big reveal at the end left me cold because as I said I wasnít in the know in regards to Ralph and Sueís fates in the DC Universe. Iím sure there are others out there who werenít either. DC does a lot of assuming when they include characters from other stories in monthly titles. More than once Iíve been taken out of the story by this. So, for those reasons that garners this issue 4 bullets out of 5.

Final Word: For a team book that really lives up to the name pick up Batman and the Outsiders today.



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