Outsiders #8 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Devil’s Work – Part One: Sacrifice

Written by: Judd Winick
Penciled by: Tom Raney
Inked by: Sean Parsons
Colored by: Gina Going
Lettered by: Comicraft
Associate Editor: Lysa Hawkins
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

Moving on up?

Thus far the latest Outsiders series has been fraught with inconsistency. Last month, with a superb story focusing on Metamorpho’s problems of duality, it seemed that Judd Winick finally was hitting his stride. I was ready for a really fantastic story this month, and while the issue wasn’t bad, I do feel it took a bit of a step back once again.

Outsiders is probably one of the weirdest books out there right now. Judd Winick has picked somewhat intense villains for the team to face, but he mixes it with a lot of silliness, and to top it all off there’s a lot of off-color humor sprinkled throughout. Judd’s always been a little steamy, but he seems to want to skirt the “Mature Reader” edge as closely as possible. Some aspects have worked brilliantly, and others have not. That’s why the book is so inconsistent in quality.

Getting to know you.

The book opens with a grisly five page sequence that introduces the latest villains for this arc. It’s a fairly solid opening where we begin to get attached to a character only to see her and a great many others killed mercilessly. The scene builds up nicely and gives us the beginnings of what to expect for the next few issues. I like Winick’s work here—so far, so good.

We then get an attempt to better characterize Indigo and Metamorpho Jr., or whatever he’s going to be called, as they’re on a date. The scene works out fine; the idea that they’re drawn to one another because they’re both blank slates is a bit hokey, but that’s what this book’s about. I still don’t understand why we have to be subjected to a dime-a-dozen character like Indigo when the DCU has so many other vastly underused characters—but it was Winick’s prerogative to infest this comic with a bunch of new characters. Not to mention that we’re dealing with Metamorpho’s toejam instead of the real deal—still it’s not a bad sequence.

That Nightwing/Huntress sexual tension.

Since Arsenal is still on the mend from the gunshot wounds (inflicted by Brother Blood a few issues back), the Huntress is brought in to help out. The Huntress has a lot of potential, but she’s far to often used in the manner Judd uses her here. She can’t play nicely with others and everyone distrusts her for her brutal crime fighting ways. Judd adds nothing new, and just uses the time for some more off color remarks with absolutely no depth.

After some work by the team, Jade, Thunder, and Grace end up on the doorstep of solving the case introduced at the beginning. This is where we are introduced to the latest rehash of a Z-grade villain, in the form of Sabbac. It’s a fairly solid by-the-numbers setup once again. While the villain looks intimidating I’m not all that worried for the team. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing one or more of the Outsiders (with the exception of Jade, Nightwing, and Arsenal) buy the farm. Maybe then the book will finally hit that elusive higher plateau it can never seem to reach.

Thus far, even with a fill-in team for issues 4-6, the artwork on Outsiders has been superb. This month it’s more of the same. Tom Raney and Sean Parsons work very well together; they’re adding life to a book that’s not really blowing me away. This month things seem a bit to “inky” in spots, but that would be a very small complaint about rather excellent work.

I’m just not digging this book…

I just can’t get around it, this book isn’t that good. Judd Winick hasn’t set a firm foundation of what the book’s about or even a clear tone he wants to use. Everything just seems so disjointed from month-to-month. I’ve promised an early 2004 housecleaning of my pull list, and Outsiders is one of those books I just may drop in the very near future.