It's hard for me to believe but Outsiders #33 is the eighth issue of the title I have collected. I had never collected Outsiders before, even way back in the Mike Barr/Jim Aparo days. I started getting the title when Dan Didio and Philip Tan jumped on as creative team because of the addition of the Eradicator, a throwback to the Reign of the Supermen and a character I have always liked. Unfortunately, there was very little of the Eradicator in these issues and very little explanation as to how he has come back.
There were some things that I did like. One was the character of Katana, a samurai struggling between her loyalty for the mad Geo-Force and her common sense to break free from him and go Ronin. Another was the stylized art of Philip Tan. And, for the briefest moment, I liked seeing that Looker's diva exterior is simply a facade for a tortured soul. Despite these things, the title has always been on the verge of being dropped by me. There just wasn't enough Eradicator or Katana to keep me interested ... and frankly Owlman, Freight Train, Black Lightning, and even the Creeper didn't grab me.
The promise of this cover including Katana and Halo (?) gave the title a reprieve until this month. Will it remain on the verge of being cut? Or will I finally pull the plug?
The issue starts with terror in a tiny village in Markovia. Coming out of the mountains, a monster emerges from the darkness, proclaiming herself Queen of the land. Her internal monologue shows a completely disjointed and conflicted thought pattern. Half of her thinks the people love her. The other half screams that she is hated.
When the villagers react with fear, the monster does something monstrous, coldly killing them in their own home.
The early issues concentrated on the mad Geo-Force and his struggles to maintain any semblance if sanity, trying to rule Markovia but doing it erratically. And as I said before, I loved watching Katana and her conflicted thoughts. Should she stay true to her leader as a Samurai should? Or should she leave Geo-Force as the other Outsiders did realizing Geo-Force is walking a path to destruction? Her character really had the most depth, the most potential to tell a compelling story.
But then we had the side trip with Metamorpho and Chemo and we sort of left the Markovian characters behind.
Well at least we see Tatsu again in this issue as she nurses Halo back to health.
Geo-Force arrives and declares his love for Tatsu, saying he can feel she has the same feelings. I guess it proves he's mad since she kissed Owlman a few issues ago. I have to say this is not a plot I want to see. I would rather see Katana pushed to the brink of her loyalty by the deeds Brion wants her to do rather than have it come to a head over his love for her. If he kept ordering her into action she normally would not do, she would have to decide where to draw the line.
She at least rebuffs his advances ... or maybe delays them. She says her only concern now can be for Halo and she cannot think of anything else right now.
This is my first real experience with Katana, and I don't even know if Didio is writing her correctly, but I like her.
Remember the disgruntled fashion designer whose life was ruined by Looker several issues ago, the one given a magic horn to get his revenge? Well he is back again, acting as an agent of someone called Veritas. In Markovia, the designer (aptly named Winer ... like whiner) complains that he hasn't had his revenge yet. But Veritas says that Winer will ruin Looker ... along with the rest of the Outsiders.
With war raging on Markovia's borders (the nation is being attacked because they sided with the Kryptonians), Geo-Force and the Eradicator head into the heart of the country to investigate the village murders.
Brion can sense that Geode, the monster from the beginning was there. We then get a quick recap of her origins, the rejected queen who tried to earn her title by getting Earth-based powers only to have those experiments her warp her. It is a sad story including these panels showing her being locked away. I can understand her conflict. She was betrayed on all fronts.
For an Outsider newbie like me, I appreciated this retelling.
Geode was indeed there ... and is still there. She attacks the heroes with her powers.
Geo-Force doesn't do himself any favors by saying he had no choice but to end their marriage. Ummm ... isn't he King?
Geode doesn't like that answer, declaring she is no longer Denise, the woman she was.
There is some nice art here as Earth is flung all around during this fight.
At last I get to see the Eradicator I came to see. Realizing that Brion's emotional attachment might be interfering with his ability to act, the Eradicator tells Brion to stand down.
Cool and passionless, almost bloodless, the Eradicator fires his heat vision at full strength at Geode and lunges in for some fisticuffs.
This is my Eradicator. Look at how dispassionate he looks, holding the limp form of the defeated Geode by her hair. By not showing his eyes, he looks much more alien, more robotic, less human. In fact, he wanted to end this because he thinks the heroes need to be at the front fighting with the troops. He is one cold and calculating being.
But who is this Eradicator? Is he The Eradicator ... a being formed around Kryptonian knowledge and religious beliefs? Or someone else?
The heroes barely have time to rest on their laurels of this victory. Before they can leave, Winer shows up and blows his horn, incapacitating the heroes.
You know, before this I thought it was simply a magic horn ... like from a bull. Now I know it's a horn like an instrument. Maybe it's a horn made from a horn? Either way it's both powerful and silly.
The issue ends with a scene from that warfront. The Markovian army are being slaughtered by spears. Achilles and his Manazons have arrived. I'm not surprised to see Achilles here. I am pretty sure I read somewhere that Didio loved the character and sort of pushed Gail Simone to do that story in Wonder Woman.
So what of this issue? Well it was nice to see the Eradicator finally act in this book. And I am glad I felt a ripple of his original persona from way back. While I was glad to see Katana again, I feel that this Brion romance angle isn't where I want to see her plot go ... and she was the biggest draw for me on the book. I also don't like the team being so split. It's like buying 2 books ... Outsiders East and West ... when you read about one set you lose track of the other. And that's without knowing where Looker and Halo fit in.
I will again say that I really love Philip Tan's art. He does have a habit of connoting characters' emotions by doing an extreme close-up of their eyes. It feels like I am reading Alan Moore's Swamp Thing #44 each issue. In that issue a serial killer remembers all the eyes of his victims. I know that comparing this book to that book is blasphemy ... but I wonder if Tan loved Bissette and Totleben's work on that book.
But the truth is there isn't enough here to keep me coming back. I think the Brion's declaration of love was the last nail in the coffin. So no more Outsiders reviews here.