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Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part Two

Batman and the Outsiders Special #1

by Peter Tomasi and Adam Kubert

There are so many titles associated with Batman, do we have to have a mourning scene in every one of them? Well, there are a lot of characters who can react to his “death,” so here we get a touching moment with Alfred. It’s a good setup, with Bruce leaving a message for Alfred to explain why he “really” started the Outsiders, and what’s going on that will make them relevant. Considering I just launched a rant about this very thing a few days ago, I’d say this is a timely explanation.

Alfred takes a trip around the world to gather the team members, and I must say, watching Alfred get more screen time in Trinity and here is a pleasure. Interesting enough, when he’s in Kahndaq, the cereal box on the ground says “Captain Crunch” in one panel, and then the ‘C’ turns into a ‘K’ in a later panel. We learn how Metamorpho survived in here too, so the team that assembles is mostly the original group of Outsiders, although there will be a couple new faces, too.

How does this fit into the last time we saw the Outsiders mentioned, when Batgirl was putting together an ad hoc team, and Nightwing nosed in to become the leader? Will there be two teams of Outsiders? Or has DC gone totally schizo when it comes to planning for this title? We go from this special where Batman is already “dead” to issue 15 next month, which will drop Batman from the title.

Kubert is a good choice for art, of course, and the cover is good. Inside, there is a wide variety of choices for the panel breakdown. My only question left is, how many more Outsider specials are we going to have to sit through just so they can assemble another team?

R.E.B.E.L.S. 1

by Tony Bedard and Andy Clarke

This is a grey area in DC history for me. I was so distraught when the regular Legion series ended, and real life kept me from buying comics for a certain period, that I had not read L.E.G.I.O.N., although I am reading the entire series now. So I haven’t gotten to the first R.E.B.E.L.S. series yet. That means there will be a little history I’m not in on, and in these reviews, you might see a question or two that you might have the answer for, if you were a fan of these teams in the ‘90s. for starters, there are a couple of characters on the cover page that haven’t shown up in the book yet. Are these new characters, or holdovers from the previous series?

Treating myself as a new reader of sorts, I was still familiar enough with Brainiac 2 and 5 to follow everything quite well, and Andy Clarke really impressed me with his art style all the way through. I have to say that the Khund Hakk looks like he has shrunk in the wash over the last few years, I remember him being bigger. The Omega Men makes an appearance here too, so DC is finally treating us to more of the cosmos than they used to. Considering how vast their comic galaxy is, I think we were due for a good new series that brings in issues from planets other than Earth.

I would recommend this, just based on the first issue.

Titans 10

by Judd Winick and Howard Porter

Oh my goodness, how low can we go? What a waste of Howard Porter’s talent. The first page is ridiculous, with all of the JLA sporting special glasses to prevent Jericho from possessing their bodies. This is so incredibly lame, I can’t even bring myself to talk about more it just yet. I will say this: at the end of issue 9, none of them were wearing the glasses, so they all took a moment to put them on at the same time. How adorable!

Jericho is sloppy enough to give away his hiding place in just a couple seconds on the second page and then on the third page… oh no! the dreaded special sunglasses are here too! The Titans just happen to have an entire box of the exact same type of glasses the JLA is wearing. And I so wanted to stop talking about those. Okay, let’s cover the other ways they could have taken precautions: Zatanna’s magic; have Firestorm whip them up some special contact lenses; have John Stewart use his ring to whip them up some control devices. Have Vixen close her eyes and use the radar of a bat. There are some many possibilities here, but it’s like nobody on the entire creative team can think about the way a veteran team might handle things. Here’s an idea, in the age of digital communications, why didn’t the JLA think of calling ahead first? And if the Tower is in lock-down mode, how can it prevent anything against sound-based villains if superman can hear them all the way outside? Superman isn’t the only guy with super hearing, didn’t Cyborg design the tower with sound baffles so the bad guys couldn’t hear what they are planning? I haven’t even gotten to page four yet!

Of course, the lame glasses all fall off, and Jericho gets into whomever he wants. Vixen is lovely enough to declare out loud that Jericho has managed to take away their precious eye-wear, and can get into anyone. Gee, thanks for the exposition, because nobody would have figured that out after three straight issues of Jericho. How quickly can we end this painful series? Every successive title that Winick tries is worse than the last. Oh, and Nightwing leaves the team to cover Gotham full-time.

By all that is holy, please stay away from this comic.

Trinity 37

by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Fabian Nicieza, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens

The religious analogy for this title is growing every issue. The cover has Wonder Woman on what could be a tarot card, but it also could pass for a stained-glass window in a church. The alternate versions of our trinity look striking, although I must admit, I would like to see how they might look rendered by another artist. Bagley’s style always lacks menace, and there’s a Saturday-morning cartoon feel to his lines that prevents the characters from being as imposing as they could be.

The religious overtones continue as the three heroes stop fighting and agree to repair their damaged world, with the three becoming one. Sound more and more like the Holy Trinity you might hear about in church, for those of you that make it to services? Three beings in one. It’s not a direct analogy, but it’s close. The series has been pretty good about this stuff so far, although they have referred to the three heroes as ‘gods,’ it was always understood that we are talking about them in the powerful, comic book variety fashion of labeling them as deities.

The new citadel is awesome, and I think I can spot the cave aspect of Batman, the Olympian stylings of the Amazon, and the looming towers of Krypton, complete with a little ode to the Hall of Justice in the center, all while still have a connection with the JLA Watchtower. I hope we see it again somewhere.

The backup story shows the recruitment of the Joker into the evil Arcana, and it turns out the Joker is already managing to control reality in his own little corner of the world. There are plenty of annotations on the net that remark upon previous stories where the Joker ended up with a reality-altering power, but one that I haven’t seen them mention yet is the classic Super Powers mini-series from 1984, where a minion of Darkseid grants Joker the ability to twist reality any which way he desires. For a mind as unbalanced as the Joker’s the fact that his insanity is flexible enough to control chaos-rifts is genius, and fitting. In a universe that has been turned upside-down and inside-out, it makes sense that someone like the clown prince finds things perfectly natural for a change.

Where many have complained that this series is slowing down, I have to say that this issue was very enjoyable, and although it feels like there has not been a ton of development in the way of events the past couple months, it has the comfortable feel of a Lord of the Rings journey: you might take a while to get there, but the ride is always a good one.

If you have dropped this title, give it another try, I think things are going to be moving much quicker very soon.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

I knew by the middle of Titans #1 that I didn't like the book. I forced myself to finish the story arc but when I saw Trigon alive (since when? oh who cares, it's comics. no one remembers those stories from the 80's he was in anyway) AND now a demon (since when? oh who cares, he looks like demon. no one remembers those stories from the 80's where he's actually an other-dimensional despot with no ties to hell whatsoever), I threw my hands up in defeat.

Winnick isn't awful but his characterizations are generic and one-dimensional and his scripts are cookie cutter. I'd take him over Liefield any day of the week if I had to BUT that's the thing. I don't have to. I have no plans to pick up any part of this series again, including the upcoming crossover.

-- Posted by: David at February 16, 2009 3:39 PM

I'm a glutton for punishment, so I picked up the Outsiders special. It's official, even with the neat opening, I can't be bothered anymore with this team book. No more secret mandates. No more faltering teams and Rex being blowed up. I realized that I just don't care anymore. Which is a shame, because its not the current creative team, its the misfires of the past few years on the book, beginning way back with Winnick's incarnation, that I simply couldn't get into. Add in the bizarre shifts on the book as creator after creator dealt with the title, and I don't have any sense of who the team is, or what they're supposed to be doing anymore.

I guess I'll follow the reviews here to see if I'm wrong, but how much did I just spend to watch the first ten minutes of a movie introducing me to characters I already know about or I wouldn't have picked up the book to begin with. I guess it DID answer my question regarding "whatever happened to Halo?"

-- Posted by: Ryan at February 16, 2009 4:48 PM