Tuesday, April 05, 2005

OUTSIDERS #22

Right. So. Get your affairs in order and look out for that fourth pale horse on the horizon. Judd Winick has put out two books in one week that haven't had me reaching for the Rubber Mallet of Readerly Vengeance. Because Outsiders didn't stink.

There. I said it. Never let anyone accuse the Shrew of being unfair to writers who don't deserve it.

Sadly, I think the last time I gave Outsiders a pass, it was the issue featuring Roy's recovery from his gunshot wounds and that was... many, many moons ago. Coincidentally, those gunshot wounds also come into play here. And, not so coincidentally, this issue is also mostly notable for Winick remembering that Roy and Dick have a history that goes back through half their lives. Which means we should perhaps expect some consequences of Dick realizing that Roy was going behind his back to 'Bruce' for info.

Winick, both here and in Green Arrow, has not been especially kind to Roy. If he's not treating Roy like a sleazy womanizer and none-too-bright guy whose sole attribute is his good aim, he's offing his nanny, impugning his sexual prowess, and torturing his kid. It hasn't been pretty. But here, even with the literal and professional tuchus-kicking Roy received, it wasn't nearly as disrespectful as, say, any appearance in Winick's GA. Roy came out of this story as being quick to rebound from his mistakes, still in possession of his friends' respect (not to mention that of Deathstroke), and competent. While Batman was right about Roy being careless, there's nothing especially embarrassing about getting hoodwinked by Deathstroke. It's when the Turtle starts getting the drop on you that you have to worry.

The Bruce-Dick interaction was a welcome relief from last month's attempts; Dick knows Bruce is right about Roy, but he doesn't want to hear him harping on it and says so without histrionics. It actually feels like this Nightwing and Batman occupy the same dimension as the ones over in Winick's Batman, which wasn't the case last month.

Also a pleasant change was the team seemed a little less... inept. Maybe because the comic relief B-team part of the Outsiders (Shift, Grace, Anissa, Indigo) was mostly kept quiet and Kory and Jen weren't exchanging sex stories. At this point, I'd gladly accept the notion that the team has been sabotaged from the start rather than that they've just been bumbling through with no one to blame but themselves. Because, really, they have made the JLE look like the SAS. Sadly, I don't think the mole will be Jen (what? Blame Ron Marz). Even more sadly, I don't think it will be any of the B-team either and we'll be stuck with this still largely uninteresting squad.

This wasn't a perfect issue -- let's not give Winick a false sense of security here -- but it was far better than it has been in the last year.

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