Comic Fodder

Can the Outsiders Be Brought In?

The latest issue of Comic Shop News is out, but tons of readers don’t bother with it. If it’s not put in their bag for them, many don’t think to pick it up themselves. Of interest is an interview with Dan Didio ad Philip Tan, who will become the new creative team for the Outsiders. Seeing as Didio has a plethora of comic fans who are critical of him, it will be an interesting experiment to see if he can do any better with this team than those who have come before him. Before you automatically close your mind because Didio’s involved, check out the reasons why this creative team might have a chance.

Good Artist: Check

The interview has both the upcoming writer and artist mentioning the original team, and how much they liked it back then. Tan in particular says it’s the first book he picked up. Tan is easily one of the best artists DC has in their stable right now, and if he is as excited as he claims to be, we’re in for some great visuals. He’s doing his homework too, reading their most recent treatment, but keeping in mind the parts he liked about the way he remembers them. If Didio will also kepe this in mind as he is writing, perhaps Katana will actually start to speak like she came from Japan again. Maybe they will remember Brion is royalty from a foreign country, and not an American.

They Like the Old Stuff: Check

Did I mention they liked the original series? The title was at its most successful in the beginning. Granted, it probably won’t have “Batman and” on the front of the title, but if they can bring back some of that early magic, it would be a considerable improvement over anything that any of the previous creative teams have done.

Stop Reinventing the Wheel: Check

This title in particular has had a bigger problem than almost any other with reinvention. The rapidly rotating rosters of writers (say that three times fast!) have garbled the team and what it stands for so many times, and so fast, it’s almost like this one title has multiple personalities. Didio is smart enough to recognize this problem, and says he won’t initiate a drastic change. That would be a refreshing change. There are a handful of dangling plotlines from the last couple years that could serve as grist for the mill, and from the interview it sounds like they have plans for each character (except I notice a lack of coverage on the Creeper, which is probably a good thing).

Latitude from the Writer: Check

Philip Tan has asked to do plot scripts instead of full scripts, allowing for greater flexibility for the artist to decide how to best lay out the story. For those who fault Didio for his choices as editor over the years, it may be hard to fault just him if you don’t like the way this goes. It is well known that some of the greatest stories from the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby combination had some great input from Kirby in story ideas and angles, and sometimes all that was left for Stan to do was fill in the speech bubbles. If Didio can accurately capture the voice of each character and Tan can break things down in a way that Didio can complement, the combination may make for a good team.

The odds are against their success, actually. There is a good deal of ill-will in the fan community over Didio’s past decisions, and that may prevent some people from even picking it up to give it a chance. There is also the distinct possibility that they will stumble just as much as the others have. Take Tomasi and Pasarin, for example. Pasarin’s art is good enough, but there have been occasional glitches such as poor coloring choices and awkward panels. Tomasi has had the characters make nonsensical decisions and contradictory moves, where he has shined in Green Lantern Corps, and did well on the Nightwing title.

Whatever this Outsider curse is, I’m rooting for this change to be successful. There’s nothing I’d like better than to bring the Outsiders into the fold of being good again.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.