Sunday, August 14, 2005


The Outsiders kick it old school style courtesy of Peter Tomasi and Will Conrad.

Swap out Anissa Pierce for her dad, sub Rex Mason in for Shift, Batman in for Nightwing, Katana in for Grace, and keep Roy around and remember he's an adult and you've got arguably the most readable two issues of the series. Certainly of the recent issues. Shame when filler issues are the high points.

The story is accessible even if you don't know Katana from a broadsword (or a broad with a sword). Imagine if Identity Crisis hadn't involved rape or retcon or turning semi-forgotten characters into somewhat forgotten supervillains. Instead of a flashback where our heroes are revealed to be ugly and unheroic, we have a flashback where their heroism kept them from crossing the line and choosing expediency over mercy. And instead of a mindwipe, we have the rest of the team trying to get around Batman by simply conveniently forgetting to call him.

This is a story of the original Outsiders and a never-really-forgotten case involving a villain named Fuse, whose ability to turn innocent civilians into living bombs proved quite a menace, but not one deemed worth murdering him to save others. Killing Fuse, who had at least four armed victims remaining at the time of his capture, could probably have been justified as the least-awful choice available -- see Diana's handling of Max Lord over in Wonder Woman (or, less successfully, what happened to Blockbuster over in Nightwing) -- and may still be.

But while Katana is all in favor -- what is it with the women in the DCU being the ones to advocate these sorts of killings? -- the others won the day back when... and are now realizing that their compassion was misguided. Fuse has emerged from his coma and reaching out once more.

The four victims the Outsiders let live have spent the intervening years in constant fear and guilt, aware of their condition and taking extraordinary efforts to prevent its unholy conclusion. A suicide pact was agreed to but never carried out, so after Fuse starts attempting to take control of his erstwhile creations, one of the four decided to take matters into her own hand (that's an intentional singular).

The reformed Outsiders show up after Deborah has killed two of the four and forced the third into losing control and detonating. In the end, they admit their mistake and Katana makes amends in her own fashion. And then Batman shows up, behaving himself but providing Tomasi with just enough rope to trip himself after what was otherwise a very strong and powerful ending.

Nonetheless, this is a recommended mini-arc not for the least to remind Brad Meltzer, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, and regular Outsiders writer Judd Winick that you can use the past in a present context without soiling it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Throwing Shift out of the mission for not remembering Fuse was a highlight of this arc. Y'know, looking at how the Outsiders has fallen, I can see why Rex was pissed about being associated with them.

Sun Aug 14, 11:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger The Comics Shrew said...

The Shift/Rex bit was funny -- the movie theater jokes and especially with one wearing the Yankees cap and one wearing a BoSox cap.

Sun Aug 14, 11:58:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is it with the women in the DCU being the ones to advocate these sorts of killings?

What? You mean the DCU women not gutted, raped, or flat-out murdered because weak writers couldn't handle them properly?

Sun Aug 14, 01:15:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"what is it with the women in the DCU being the ones to advocate these sorts of killings?"

Bill Maher, when he was going to talk about gender relations in a standup special, prefaced it with, "I get it, I get it- there are millions of women who are steely eyed realists and there are millions of men who are anything BUT."

My guess is, a disturbing number of writers get confused by that statement.

Another guess is, the male hero is the star, he can't do or think anything...unpleasant.

Tue Aug 16, 11:15:00 AM EDT  
Blogger The Comics Shrew said...

Mind you, I don't especially have a problem with justice having a terminal point. My comments regarding Diana and Max Lord speak to that. It's just... DC writerly types overcompensating for Women-in-Fridges. Again.

I'd like to think that Katana's case had something to do with recent continuity -- Black Lightning killing someone over in Green Arrow, Rex's doppelganger Shift killing Indigo in Outsiders in the last Winick issue, Batman's unwillingness to kill -- but I don't give them the credit for that.

Tue Aug 16, 11:46:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another guess is, the male hero is the star, he can't do or think anything...unpleasant.

Nah, I think Shrew's right about the Women-In-Fridges overcompensation. Sue Dibny was killed last year, so this year they've gotta have three women killing (Jeanclipso, Katana, Diana).

Tue Aug 16, 01:28:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also think it's some sort of ingrained misogyny. The male heroes are idealists, the female heroes bring them down to earth to do the dirty work.

The ads for "Sacrifice" read "Wonder Woman will save Superman's life... and he'll never forgive her for it." That bothered me to no end.

To a disturbing number of comic writers, "girls are scary"

And yet those same comic writers and many comic pundits whine all day about how the readership needs to get laid.

What about the message THEY'RE sending?

Wed Aug 17, 10:27:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My personal favorite is Frank Miller. Catwoman just has to be a hooker. Karen Page = Porn star. Ugh.

Thu Aug 18, 09:55:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"/> = HAS

Thu Aug 18, 09:56:00 PM EDT  
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