Outsiders #31

Story by
Art by
Philip Tan, Jonathan Glapion
Colors by
Pete Pantazis
Letters by
Travis Lanham
Cover by
DC Comics

I left this book sometime during or slightly after the "Blackest Night" tie-in issues; it's hard for me to remember when specifically, as the stories aren't exactly memorable. I'd like to say the same for this issue, but this issue was bad enough to burn an imprint onto my short-term memory.

So let's get the good things out of the way: Pantazis' colors are phenomenal. This book is all over the map, from a reconstituting Halo to a stomping Chemo. The range of hues and effects utilized in this book certainly gave Pantazis a challenge, and he rose up to exceed expectations.

And that's it.

Didio's story bounces all over the place, from the Metamorpho/Chemo bit that launches the story to Markovia, where Geo-Force is wringing his hands and twirling his virtual mustache to some weird demonic/succubus chick (who has a pet dog/tribute to DC's Publicity Manager, Alex Segura, in tow) who attacks Jack Ryder for his seed.

That'd be a fine enough plot if any of the characters had any depth about them. Geo-Force, as a character, has been wiped clean and twisted the wrong way. Owlman and Freight Train (who looks like the love child of Guido from "X-Factor" and Dwayne Johnson) engage in a bickering session that would make high school freshmen seem mature by comparison. The only thing missing from the character's verbal sparring is a jab at one of the characters' mother. Owlman was a thin replacement for Batman to begin with, but Didio's writing in this issue has diminished the character.

I'm not sure if it's Didio's script or Tan's poor choices of framing and storytelling, but the Arizona State Police send two helicopters after Chemorpho. One of those helicopters disappears in a blur, which I still cannot discern if it is Chemorpho spewing, swatting it with his arm, or just looking at it crosswise. Those same copters, by the way, ask Chemorpho to identify himself and produce the proper papers. Yes. Seriously.

Tan's art has an edginess to it that should be exploited more. There are bits in the Chemorpho part of the story that are well-constructed big screen moments and the Creeper segment is smartly crafted as well, but the art throughout the issue fluctuates.

The other bright spot (pun not intended) in the story is the Ray, who arrives on the Chemorpho scene at the behest of Simon Stagg. The end result is a Scooby Doo like moment where Ray, Freight Train, and Owlman all seem to put together the same image.

This book wasn't a chore to read, but it sure wasn't a pleasure either. I'd think if any other writer were turning in material of this quality, Didio would have replaced them by now. Maybe Jim Lee needs to have a little talk with Dan.

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