Of all the “Flashpoint” tie-in minis, the one that’s stood out as the biggest mystery book is “The Outsider.” Who is the Outsider? Is he Alfred Pennyworth, an altered Lex Luthor, a White Martian, or something else entirely? James Robinson doesn’t shy away from that question by answering it right away in this issue, revealing the character to be brand new and looking like the likeliest candidate to be the ‘Nate Grey’ (Marvel’s “X-Man”) of “Flashpoint.” And, judging by this issue, he’d make a nice addition to the criminal landscape of the DCU if they went that route.
What exactly Michael Desai, the Outsider, is is unknown. We’re shown his birth in 1960 in Chandigarh that leaves him an orphan and destroys a three mile radius of the city, and, then, jump to the present as he multitasks. The Outsider has a charm about him as he wanders through conversations, literally stepping into a holographic projection that represents him at the meeting with the Cyborg when he has something to say. He’s clearly intelligent and presenting in the middle of three different things shows off how capable and in command he is.
An attack on his headquarters by Mr. and Mrs. Terrific and the shamed Japanese hero, the Rising Sun, provides an opportunity to see the Outsider in action. The efficiency he has in dealing with the fallen heroes seeking revenge for framing them for crimes they didn’t commit is impressive, while his willingness to sacrifice his staff is both cold and shocking. There is a somewhat goofy tinge to the character when he reaches his final straw, but it’s an endearing quirk.
Javi Fernandez impresses on art, especially when the action picks up. He draws very dynamic action scenes, combining bold imagery with tons of movement. He picks out the best shots very well and isn’t afraid to play up the cartoonier side of action sequences by having Mrs. Terrific move so fast we see three of her in a panel. Fernandez also does good character work on the Outsider through his calm, proper body language; he’s obviously a man that’s very sure of himself by the way he’s presented here, even when under heavy fire.
The first extended view of the Outsider is an intriguing one. We’ve seen him go about his business and get into a big superhero-y fight. What remains to be seen is how much depth there is to the character and if he has legs beyond “Flashpoint.” If this issue is any indication, he does.