Saturday, August 06, 2011

THINGS I'LL MISS ABOUT THE OLD DCU DAY 2: The Outsiders

The DC answer to diverse Marvel line-up's like the current Alpha Flight crew won't be found in Justice League, but rather The Outsiders. Sadly, after so many years of waiting for the classic Jim Aparo / Mike W Barr gang to re-assemble, we get to watch the title tank again - and personally I blame Batman.

To a young 80's Dan, Batman and The Outsiders #13 was one issue that blew my mind on multiple levels. First this bunch of mismatched misfits sneek a gasp under the cowl while a drugged out Bats is doo-lally, then they tie his resulting hallucinations into an awesome retelling of one of the most retold origins on Earth. 

When Brucie boy snaps to, he judges them worthy enough to share the ultimate super-hero sign of trust - his secret identity - and they all play dumb, even though they just found out illegally a few moments prior. I mean if Batman gave the team the thumbs-up way back them, how could DC do any less now?

Perhaps they felt between Frankenstein and Stormwatch they have 'kooky' and 'clan-destine' covered. After all, Batman will still be globe-trotting outside the JLA on the UN sanctioned Justice League International (And I thought he'd plant a mole on such a political team, rather then get involved himself)!

Will DC play down the paranoia of their biggest lunchbox seller? Or is there hope a few story-arcs in Batman will state 'They've had their chance' to a room of shadowy figures, revealing themselves as a fluresent teenager, a samurai, a prince, an element man and an electric man with a 'fro? 

Yes - the 'fro. Because you know if Black Lightning is coming back, he's got to go back to the afro jumpsuit look. Somethings never lose their cool - the original Outsiders included.

14 comments:

  1. I agree, there's something so great about the idea of Batman being able to mold young superheroes, it totally flips the mentor/team relationship when the mentor is the most popular and recognizable character. And then one wonder if Bats will become attached to them personally or if they'll just be extensions of his utility belt.

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  2. True that Arron, and I think that's where Bats differs from other vigilantes in comics. His attitude and ego is so well defined it really sets him apart.

    Glad I'm not the only Outsiders fan out there!!

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  3. Sigh. Okay, I'll miss the Outsiders too. Not as much as Wally. But all the outsiders incarnations. I liked the one where Nightwing was leading the group, too, and Arsenal was getting all tough again. They were grittier than the JLA. And younger. And you didn't care if they made mistakes. But they also weren't a bunch of teenyboppers. Sigh.

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  4. Yeah I liked that round too Random - being the Nightwing-er that I am I was straight in, but kept looking for Halo or Black Lightning to show up and just help tie things a bit more.

    Teenyboopers piff! What would they know?!

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  5. Now don't get me wrong, I love the teenybopper schtick in Teen Titans, and when Young Justice first started...I still go back and read all of those by the way...But it's nice sometimes to see a darker team of adults who goof up not because they're inexperienced, but because they're *ahem* human.
    On a side note, I get really excited when I own a comic you have on the cover art I'm digging now side. And I've always loved that Titans cover, and the story arc it started.

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  6. I collected all the BATO issues, mainly for GF, but liked all the characters. The relationship between Halo and Katana was great, and Metamorpho has always been a favourite. I have to say that you're taking a very even and charitable tone about these retcons and more power to you. I don't like what DD did to the Outsiders on his run and how he has the credibility (after reading his writing in that title) to revamp the entire DCU is beyond me. BATO and the Titans became sub-Batbooks, then non-books (I don't count DCnU's offerings of TT and Red Hood and the Outlaws as real Titans books). Unreal.

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  7. I agree Random - I discovered the Outsiders through their crossover with The New Teen Titans (which was my bible book) and picked up their title pretty much for that reason.

    It was cool seeing Kitanna take on a whole room of henchmen, yet Halo's over-confidence would see her fall for basic traps. Plus, as you know I'm a fan of kooky line-ups, so that factored too.

    As for the cover, I think it's one of the best NTT covers ever, because the composition and use of Raven is great, and it illustrates where the Titans stopped looking like 'Robin and the Titans' - and was mapped out it's own path.

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  8. ToB - Thanks for asking! The DCnU is such a multi-faceted thing, I find it hard to comment on the whole without contradicting myself in commenting on it's parts.

    Personally I find the idea akin to Marvel saying 'We are moving all our characters to Asgard and giving 50% new origins to match'. It works against the defining word of the company.

    In my real life I'm Studio Manager of a design agency and I always advise my team to create strong ads and brands by finding the key word and ensuring everything from there relates back to that word.

    For Marvel that's 'relative'. You can relate to Peter Parker or the displaced feeling of Captain America, who feels the world has forgotten it's core values.

    For DC the word is 'legacy'. Scrunching these mantles or deconstructing them into 'five years of continuity' creates more problems then it would've if they just relaunched all the #1's day and date - and why I keep mentioning the aspect of legacy in my posts.

    The other aspect I don't get is is it a relaunch? Or a reboot? With a move this major you'd want one simple, clear message. But Batman suggests the character's history is in tact, yet how can Nightwing resume his old mantle in a new #1, if it sounds like The New Teen Titans never occurred for him to create it in?

    I realise it's a 'Saying it before reading it' situation, but it makes it hard to order some titles when you're unsure about who the name is referring to, as it's the character and their history, not the name that made you a fan.

    That said, some of the talent on these books I do trust and crave seeing their take on these characters.

    I mentioned once on IADW I thought relaunching Superman in a more modern setting was paramount to 'Ultimate Jesus and the 12 Disciples' and that you'd spend more of your time convincing the 6 billion people on earth the guy they knew is no longer him, than you would telling good stories. But if anyone can - based on All Star Superman and JLA - that guy is Grant Morrison.

    Swamp Thing is another great creative team, as is Aquaman, Wonder Woman and of course Justice League. Plus how awesome is it Grifter, Etrigan, Mister Terrific and Frankenstein are getting a shot at their own book?

    As a fan I feel I need to support what I think are deserving characters, even if I am confused about what direction the boat they're riding in is going.

    Sadly as you mentioned, the biggest casualty or stand/fail book of the line will be Teen Titans. I'd put to the jury the Perez/Wolfman era of that franchise is as key to the companies success as Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns. It's characters are still referred to, just like how Watchmen would be was it made an ongoing series.

    DC has set Scott Lobdell the massive task of pretty much explaining the whole 52 legacy and how or if a landmark loved era ever existed.

    Did Cyborg join the League then the Titans and then back to the League again? What about Arsenal? How does that effect Ollie? I've already talked Nightwing, and when it comes to DCU victims, Donna Troy again raises her hands.

    My answer to posting a list of questions I don't have any real answers for is to focus on the best aspects I see in the event and look at those as a glass half fill.

    If Titans isn't what I personally like I'll stick to my back issues like I guess you will to, and hope the new readers DC is chasing enjoy their stories as much as I did investing my time and change in those that proceeded them. As if I needed another reason to feel older!! ;D

    Thanks for the awesome comments guys!

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  9. Thanks for your answer Dan, very charitable of you, I admire your half full stance. Like I said, having read Didio's Outsiders I don't understand at all how he occupies the position he does (first off). And yeah, I'd agree that the NTT are core to the DCU because they said something about legacies that DC just doesn't get. When it came to legacies, the NTT were ground zero, and tptb spent twenty years trying to force them into a different box. When that didn't work - erase them? I feel this is different from COIE. Killing off a couple of huge characters and a bunch of little ones is really different from erasing the whole NTT continuity from continuity. The issue was whether or not a classic Titans could have been produced now, with a new premise, adult themes, based on the continuity and not be hackneyed. Yes it could, but not by this lot because of they have the wrong idee fixe about legacies punctuated by grimdark sexy ultraviolence. Don't get me wrong, bot have their place, but so does solid story-telling. Bottom line: Morrison may be a great story-teller. But Dan Didio is not.

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  10. I think the best response to the problem of what we do with the NTT next was to create a book TITANS that continues onto 30 something based dramas. They went down the Titans road before I know, I think that concept is still valid.

    It's the same over at Marvel with the New Warriors. Fabian's NW was sublime, yet anything following that just hasn't flamed on. Now they can't get together as they are too old (except Firestar who Marvel seem to have de-aged (Don't get me started). But why can't they form The Warriors?

    Does being a super-hero in either team cast in concrete an age specific career plan with no alternatives? I'd love a hero to be offered League or Avengers membership and just say 'No - I don't want too.'

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  11. Closest DC came to this was Winick's Outsiders. If they had built on that they could have had an adult team that was a superhero team but not clicheed as superheroes, more non-JLA and a bit off the radar, like the Doom Patrol. I think a composite team of Outsiders, DP and Titans would work well as a 30-something non legacy conscious book. AnyWAY it ain't gonna happen.

    Marvel: sorry I read about ten thousand Xbooks in the 80s after following the FF and Spiderman in the late 70s (I was glad to see your post on Cloak and Dagger -haven't seen them for awhile) and then got Xhausted and dropped Marvel around 1989. So I don't really follow what's going on with their teams and characters now and don't know the NW. Googled them and see that's b/c they were a 90s book.

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  12. Thanks ToB - oddly enough I thought Robotman was always going to be the next member of Judd's Outsiders!

    I gave up on the X-books just after Age of Apocalypse in the 90's. That's when I started realising how the plots were dragging, and yet many were still surviving the great cull of titles the company went through at the time.

    New Warriors with Fabian writing was great stuff - if you see it in your library take it for a spin. I think you'll be glad you did.

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  13. There was a character invited to LJA that refused at Batman's and Superman's face: Booster Gold!In V2 issue 1
    Not that he didn't wish to accept, but still his refusal was memorable.

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  14. Of course I forgot about that! Ahh Booster Gold - where would we be without you to keep the bru-ha-ha in comics?

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