Back Issue Bin Review: Batman and the Outsiders v2
|August 21, 2012||Posted by Jess under Back Issue Bin Review, Comics|
Last time on Back Issue Bin Review, I talked about the first incarnation of the Outsiders team. Since (as you may have guessed from the title) I’m working my way through all the Outsiders runs, Volume 2 is up next.
This run, typically designated as Outsiders v2, ran for 24 issues from 1993-1995. It was written by Outsiders creator Mike W. Barr and (mostly) drawn by Paul Pelletier.
The characters created for the first run are back: Geo-Force, Katana, Halo, Looker, and, towards the end, Windfall. Adding to their ranks are:
- Faust, magician son of the classic JLA villain Felix Faust. Faust wears his sunglasses at night, and also a leather jacket, because he’s a totally rad antihero who plays by his own rules, man.
- Technocrat, a.k.a. Geoffrey Barron, an industrialist in a suit of high-tech armor.
- Charlie Wylde, Technocrat’s buddy who, and I’m just going to quote Wikipedia here because there’s no way I can improve upon this, “has been turned into a mountain bear by Faust’s uncontrollable magic.”
- The Eradicator, a Kryptonian energy being and brutally ruthless sometime-superhero.
Also tagging along after them is Atomic Knight, an early 60s hero awkwardly updated in the late 80s and early 90s with – you guessed it – a suit of high-tech armor, plus a backstory involving virtual reality. Atomic Knight had sort-of joined the Outsiders in like the last two issues of the original run; he crops up every so often in this one to pointlessly fight Geo-Force so that the series can meet its “hero fighting hero because of a misunderstanding” quota. (It’s a very high and very mandatory quota for superheroes.)
As you may have realized by now, this book is super duper 90s. Not one, not two, but three major characters in high tech suits of armor! Heroes on the lam! Heroes fighting heroes! The Eradicator and his extreme vision of justice!1 Looker turning into a sexy vampire! (I don’t know if that’s a 90s thing, but it sure seems like it should be.) A feral character! Absolutely everything about Faust! The series really reaches its 90s-tastic peak, though, when they head to Gotham to seek Batman’s help – and find Az-Bats instead. (Scroll to #5. Although that whole list is hilarious and a lot of it applies here.) Wah wah waaaaah.
All that said, it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. I mean, it’s ridiculous, but in such an on-the-nose way that it’s kind of endearing? And I will say this for Pelletier: he doesn’t indulge in nearly as many 90s artistic crimes as he could. His anatomy is solid, his ladies are reasonably dressed and posed, and there is a general absence of pouches. Well done, Pelletier. (The issue covers here are…not his best work.)
One point of interest: there’s a lesbian couple among the villains of the vastly forgettable Strike Force Kobra towards the end of the series. What interested me was not the hamhanded inclusion of the characters but the rather nuanced protests from the readers at this negative portrayal of lesbians in a later letter column. Considering the homophobic outrage directed at Judd Winick’s “It’s Okay to Be Gay” issue of Green Lantern, what, ten years later? I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction to this one (or at least the reaction they printed). Frustratingly, the editor dismissed all criticism – but smacked down another reader for his Nice Guy bullshit when the reader called Looker shallow for not returning bear-man Wylde’s creepy love. So, win some, lose some, I guess?
In general, read it if you’re trying to catch up on your Outsiders continuity (even though much of it, like Halo’s bodyswap, has been jettisoned). Otherwise, feel free to skip. There are better, and more entertainingly worse, 90s comics to be Back Issue Binning.2