Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: Outsiders #37

Was it really just 4 months ago that I was collecting The Outsiders? At that time, the Eradicator was added to the team and there was a tangential connection to New Krypton. There were some parts of the book that I liked. Geo-Force was clearly insane as leader. Katana was having a hard time reconciling her Samurai loyalty to the irrational Geo-Force. And Philip Tan's art at times really shined, a bit skewed in perspective and with a thick ink line. But those things weren't enough for me and so I dropped the title.

But every time I think I am out, they pull me back in. The Outsiders #37 came out this week, the second chapter in the Reign of Doomsday storyline working it's way through the super-books.

In many ways, this issue sort of justified my dropping the title when I did. Sure, Doomsday stomps his way through the issue, facing off against the Eradicator. But basically that's all this issue was, a stomp-fest. And Philip Tan has changed his style, one I don't like as much as I did in the earlier issues.

It turns out that Markovia is still somewhat ostracized by the remainder of the world for siding with the Kryptonians during the New Krypton time period. And Geo-Force's continued friendship with the Eradicator isn't helping things. The other Outsider team members Katana, Halo, Looker, and The Olympian all think that Brion should simply rid himself of the Eradicator, an olive branch for the rest of the world.

Tan's new style is evident right from the beginning as it looks like he didn't ink the art at all, instead leaving it as pencils to be colored. As a result, the art looks soft or gauzy.

Geo-Force refuses to turn his back on his friend the Eradicator.

Ironically, the Eradicator comes crashing to the ground after having earlier flown off. The Eradicator isn't a lightweight. For someone to have trashed him like this, they must be extremely powerful.

No big surprise, it's Doomsday.

At first Geo-Force does the right thing, telling his teammates to leave him to fight Doomsday on his own. But they refuse, declaring their allegiance to the Outsiders, and swarm Doomsday. Seems like a suicide mission. I can't imagine Katana, Looker, or Halo scratching Doomsday.

I did think it was weird that Tan has Doomsday glowing yellow with some Kirby dots. Is this a manifestation of some new power?

Oh ... by the way ... the rest of the Outsider team are imprisoned by Amanda Waller for being traitors to the US for having lived in Markovia. She offers Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Freight Train, Owlman, Thunder, and Grace a choice - fight Geo-Force for the US or remain in prison.

At first they decline but the Black Lightning gives in realizing that the US next step against Markovia would be a nuclear exchange. It is implied that it's a bluff by Waller, but it worked.

It was nice to see Waller again, manipulating people as well as ever.

There is a nice blurb where writer Dan Didio talks about the heroism of the Markovian Outsiders, fighting Doomsday knowing they will most likely die. During the fight, Doomsday begins to exhibit blue energy powers.

But look at his spikes. Without ink, as just pencils, don't they look like powder puffs? Or frilly sleeves? Or a big feather boa? It looks like the Outsiders are fighting Liberace!

One thing I did like about this issue was seeing Doomsday kick the tar out of The Olympian. I think Achilles and the 'Manazons' (I can't believe I typed that) completely derailed Gail Simone's Wonder Woman run. So I was happy to see him get crushed.

There are several pages of all the Outsiders getting taken out like yesterday's trash by the rampaging monster.

But Doomsday's real objective is the Eradicator. Just as Doomsday sprouted armor when facing Steel, here the monster has blue energy bolts like the Eradicator. It is as if Doomsday is able to absorb the powers of the Superman stand-ins. Funny, here he did not grow armor ... maybe he can only use one power at a time.

The fight between the Eradicator and Doomsday is extremely brief, Doomsday ending it in dramatic fashion.

Does that look familiar?

I don't know. As soon as I saw it, I thought of Frank Miller's dramatic scene where Bullseye 'kills' Elektra.

I am sure there are countless images like this.

And with the fight over, Doomsday picks up the Eradicator's body and teleports away.

So much like the Steel one-shot, we don't get much in terms of information about Doomsday, why he is doing this, how he has new powers, or who (if anyone) is controlling him. Instead it is a lot of pages of some serious combat. But no real story ...

But now I am starting to think about this whole thing. I wonder if there might be more than one Doomsday ... one for each of Superman's 'replacements' when the Man of Steel was thought dead.

So, one more chapter of Reign of Doomsday is done without much new information. And I miss the old Philip Tan art.

Overall grade: C


Dave Mullen said...

But now I am starting to think about this whole thing. I wonder if there might be more than one Doomsday ... one for each of Superman's 'replacements' when the Man of Steel was thought dead.

I like that idea, not one I'd thought of. I was wondering if everything that's been going on in the Superman books might be interconnected somehow - Luthors quest, Doomsdays return, the telepath stalking Superman, maybe they could all be part of some greater arc. But the notion that there is more than one Doomsday out there right now is a compelling one...

The Outsiders has rarely been stellar but over the last eight or so issues in particular there has been a real suckage in the quality.
The direction of the book is vague, the characterisation and personal arcs are snail paced, and maybe the best single example of all of these problems lie in the Eradicator himself. He turned up out of nowhere with the hint of a tie in to the New Krypton arc then dissapeared into thin air for a few issues before turning up again with no explanation!
Now I know New Krypton was pulled at short notice for the writer but a good writer would merely switch lanes and come up with something else to take its place. So what has been the point of The Eradicator thus far? We don't know him, he has no past, he has no personality as such, sketchy conections to the Superman family and worse of all has been largely innefectual in the book. A ghost character almost.

I knew what to expect from this issue was a long unapologetic fight scene, not necessarily anything wrong in this, but it should not have been so utterly predictable and lacking in tension. It felt like what it was - a quick crossover where the team gets mugged and then its back to buisiness next issue.
The idea of giving Doomsday these adaption abilities plus flight is a big part of the problem but really it was all rendered meaningless as I don't think i'm alone in not caring what happens to the Eradicator, he is a non-entity.

The Book isn't long for the chop mercifully, I won't miss it but I do regret the lack of a clear mandate or direction to see it out on. When the Suicide Squad was cancelled it was (and still is) a huge loss, when The Outsiders go who will mourn...?

Kandou Erik said...

I don't know wether it's the secret project Sterling Gates is suppose to be writing - but they just announced a mini-series he's going to be writing - about Kid Flash Lost during the Flashpoint Event.

valerie21601 said...

One of the things that drove me away from the BIG TWO comics was the "forced" issues they would do their best to make you buy other comics outside of the current storyline. When you got it it usually had only one or two pages really related to it.

What DC should do first is ask around and see who can fit a story line like the current Doomsday threads into their own stories naturally. Not "force" the writers into writing stories/issues that don't fit in or are in character for that series. Sometimes given enough time many writes could work it in and make it flow smoothly.

From what I am reading and hearing from other DC fans at my local comics shop is the current Doomsday stories feel too forced and you get the feeling the editors are using a sledgehammer on the writers to write such issues. In the long run it hurt the quality of the stories and in turn hurts their sales too.