Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review: Outsiders #29


It seems that every month I review The Outsiders, I wonder if it will be my last. As I have said before, the reason I came to this book was the inclusion of the Eradicator.

So far the book has been light on the Eradicator and heavy on team dysfunction. Last issue, the team basically got ripped in half by Geo-Force. Where will the characters end up? Is it the end of the Outsiders?

The answer will have to wait as this issue is devoted to the character of Looker and how she appears poised to rejoin the team. As someone very new to the Outsider characters, I know very little about the Looker character. I can recall that she was someone considered plain who suddenly became stunningly beautiful and equipped with some sort of mental powers. A quick read of her wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looker_%28comics%29) confirmed those thoughts as well as letting me know she is a vampire?

The early pages of the book show a very self-centered and superficial Lia backing out of a fashion show and ruining the designer's outfits. She complains that she needs to constantly be surrounded by beauty and those outfits didn't make the cut.

The scene feels absolutely gratuitous as Looker pads around the room removing her clothes, having her female thrall remove some of her clothes, and then asking her male bodyguards to help her remove her undergarments.

I suppose it sets the stage for me as a newbie to the character. She is immature, petulant, and superficial. What else ... sensual? Over-sexed? Obsessed with physical appearances?

It still felt a little too Cinemax for me.

Her actions are being watched from afar. A vampire hunter has been hired by a vampire clan to kill Looker, who has been killing vampires. His name is Stake. The name just sounds like it was ripped from the 1970s.

The character I have been the most interested in reading about in my short time on the title is Katana. She seems all the warrior woman, steeped in honor, following the Samurai code. As a result she feels bound to follow Geo-Force.

But she knows he is mad. And she clearly has feelings for Owl-Man, one of the Outsiders banished from Markovia by Geo-Force. She seems torn. She kisses Owl-Man and tells him that she is staying. I like the shocked look on his face as she leaves.

One thing that took away from the scene was the art. In one panel, her eyes are open and we see her irises. In the rest of the page, her eyeholes are skin-colored implying her eyes are closed. But it is somewhat off-putting. Are her eyes closed the whole conversation? It just doesn't look right.

But back to Looker.

Dolled up in her fighting clothes, she hits the nearest trendy clubs, again to surround herself with beauty. She does a quick recap of her origin ... her humdrum life with her boring husband. She wonders how she could have ever lived that life.

While in the club, Stake makes his move. He thinks she will be easy prey.

Surprisingly, Looker knows how to fight back. She is able to hold off his attack. I love this dialogue. She sounds like such a party girl ... lamenting the blood on her dress and calling Stake a bitch. Too funny ... even if unintentional.

Stake takes off telling Looker he knows another way he can get to her.

Unfortunately, mid-fight, the art chores change from Don Kramer's smooth style to Philip Tan's more stylized and smudgy art. It is a jarring change which interrupts the flow of the book.

Turns out that Stake thinks that he can get to Looker by grabbing her ex-husband, the boring guy who never locked the door. Based on everything I have read at the beginning of the issue, you would think Looker could not care less about this guy, that she has completely cut off all ties to her past life.

Looker might be protesting too much. She not only follows Stake to her ex-husband's house, she kills him. How ironic ... Stake is staked.

And then we get the best moment of the book. Despite immediately complaining about another battle-ruined outfit, she pauses and from afar sweetly says goodnight to her husband.

Maybe all of this superficial spoiled super-model behavior is her emotional armor. She lost her old life, became a hero, then became a vampire. Maybe she has some regrets. Maybe that quiet life as a plain bank teller had more depth than she wishes to remember.

Looking to get away from it all, she books a flight into Markovia, presumably to rejoin the team.

I wish the book ended there because frankly that one panel sort of struck me. It even made me rethink the earlier stripping scene. Maybe Didio was trying to show just how much of a front Looker is putting on to hide some sort of internal psychological pain. I love conflicted characters. If she had simply killed Stake and gloated, I probably would have dropped the book. Instead I am wondering just who the real Looker is. I am curious enough to keep the book on my pull list.

Unfortunately, the book ends with another sort of 1970s comics moment.

The fashion designer ruined by Looker's tantrum is drowning his sorrow at a local bar when he is suddenly given a magic horn from someone named Veritas and invited to become Veritas' herald.

A spurned fashion designer sought out by a higher power to become a super-villain? A magic animal horn?

Huh?

I have to say that the ending brought down the grade of the book a little.

The art in the book is solid if disjointed as described above. Kramer has such an organic style, all smooth round lines. Tan's work is distorted and scratchy in a good way. I even see a little bit of Chris Bachalo in his faces. Both styles work, just not shoved into the same issue. We have seen this before with Tan who just can't seem to stay on time.

And Didio's dialogue can be a bit ham-fisted at times.

But he has me intrigued with the internal conflicted natures of now Katana and Looker. That isn't even mentioning the insane Geo-Force. I guess I will stick around a bit longer.

Overall grade:B

3 comments:

Bubbly Bunny said...

I don't know if you noticed but in the panel where Looker is getting undressed in the background on the t.v. the announcer is talking about an explosion on New Krypton.

Mart said...

God bless you for reading this book so I don't have to ...

So now Katana fancies Roy (how will he look next month, the guy changes so often)? And has Halo turned up or been mentioned? I thought she was going to have a big role in the Blackest Night conclusion, but there was bugger all.

The Looker focus sounds awful. Tbe best story of Lia Briggs was a Grant/Breyfogle Detective Comics entry in which she helped Batman fight various Clayfaces (AKA The Mud Pack - Lia does like her beauty products). Brilliant stuff, #604-7. I can't believe she's still a vamping vamp.

Anj said...

God bless you for reading this book so I don't have to ...

So now Katana fancies Roy (how will he look next month, the guy changes so often)? And has Halo turned up or been mentioned? I thought she was going to have a big role in the Blackest Night conclusion, but there was bugger all.

The Looker focus sounds awful. Tbe best story of Lia Briggs was a Grant/Breyfogle Detective Comics entry in which she helped Batman fight various Clayfaces (AKA The Mud Pack - Lia does like her beauty products). Brilliant stuff, #604-7. I can't believe she's still a vamping vamp.


This book might be getting better reviews from me because I don't know all the back story, so I am glad you keep reminding that it doesn't all jibe.

With a boatload of new titles coming out, I don't know how much longer I'll be here.