Monday, December 11, 2006

Outsiders Week!

In the spirit of Yuletide, I'd like to devote this week to


Even though a week is clearly not enough time for that... .

There are so many crimes against comics for which Enemy of Society Mike W. Barr should be tried, but creating the Outsiders is the one that should get him the chair. Once that's done, they should turn the current on again for about another twenty minutes just to make the corpse twitch. Hey; I'd watch that on YouTube; Pay Per View, even!

My reasons for detesting the "Outsiders" are both manifest and manifold. Even more than "the NEW Teen Titans", they were a loose grouping of ersatz characters cobbled together in the Marvel mold. "Fear us for we are a rough and tumble bunch of ass-kicking rebels! We have contempt for authority just like you young people! We are McBain, a loose-cannon cop who doesn't play by the rules! We are ... OUTSIDERS!"

No, my dears, you are not. The Doom Patrol are outsiders; you know, the freaky kids in high school who wind up founding software companies, opening art galleries, dying in gutters, or moving to Montevideo to do all three. You are surburban Catholic-school girls, toying with dark mark-up and calling yourself "naughty" because you let a boy get to first base without knowing his last name. The Doom Patrol is a group of people who have been labelled as outsiders by others; you are people trying to label yourselves as outsiders. So unsure and insecure about what you are that you need to define yourselves by what you are not.

This is a group that actually called themselves the Outsiders. Now that is what I believe the kids today would call "lame". Oh, and they were founded by *snicker* Batman. Now, it's funny enough when Marvel tries to portray Wolverine (who's in every third Marvel comic) as an outsider. I mean, at least he smokes cigars, wears leather, has funny hair, and drops the 'g's from present participles. But Batman ... ?!

Hey, Batman! I've got some snapshots of you in my photo album wherein you are:

  • chatting with Mr. Barnabas on Batman Island!
  • selling war bonds!
  • piloting the Batsubmarine!
  • testifying in court!
  • answering a summons from your personal searchlight on police headquarters!
  • racing against Willie Von Dort!
  • founding yet another version of the JLA!
  • performing a tracheotomy on a baby with a ping pong ball lodged in its throat!
  • giving your silent stamp of approval to some new hero in issue 3 of their new soon-to-be-cancelled title!

I like my Batman fairly dark, you know. But I'm still not going to pretend that Batman, even at his darkest, is an "outsider" in any meaningful sense of the word, and a credulity-straining tiff with his colleagues in the Justice League won't be changing my mind. Batman's not a naif; he knows that the JLA's job isn't to do everything it can everywhere, but to deal with things that no one else can when it's necessary to do so.

So Batman goes off in a huff and forms a group called "the Outsiders"? Ridiculous. How come the only consistently mature versions of any of DC characters are in its animated line, which is theoretically made for kids? Children get DC icons that act like adults, but we adults get DC icons that act like children. Maybe it's supposed to be comic book irony.

The "Outsiders", as you would expect from a rebellious outsider group, had a high-tech HQ and a VTOL jet, connections with old world royalty, at least one member who's a model, and lived in a "real" city (or rather, Los Angeles). Did DC pay Marvel royalties for the Outsiders? That check should go out every week in the mail right after the ones to Siegel & Shuster.

You know what might have worked for me instead? You know what might have at least been funny?

"Green Arrow and the Outsiders"
; because he's just that kind of jackass.


LurkerWithout said...

Green Arrow and the Outsiders

Wouldn't that just be the Outsiders team from the Nail Elseworlds book?

Anonymous said...

giving your silent stamp of approval to some new hero in issue 3 of their new soon-to-be-cancelled title!

I recognize everything but this. Is this a current ongoing he popped up in or an old appearance in something like Azrael or New Bloods, or something similar?

Unknown said...


This is pretty much a constant thing in comics for the last, I don't know, 15 years? If you're a DC character, usually either Batman, Green Lantern, or Superman, will show up in your series by issue 3, and sometimes as soon as 2, in order to get Batman/GL/Supes readers to take a look at the book, and hopefully add it to their pull list. If it's Marvel, the go to character for this is usually Spiderman or occasionally Wolverine.

It, of course, almost never works.

MaGnUs said...

I moved to Montevideo and I've yet to found a software company, art gallery, or dye in the gutters (luckily in the last case).

No really, I do live in Montevideo.

As for the obligatory Bats/Supes/GL or Spidey/Wolvie appearance in new titles, I was reading the letter page of the latest issue of The Irredeemable Ant-Man, and somebody asked the writer to delay the Wolverine/Spider-Man appearance to at least after issue 12.

Jeremy Rizza said...

"...Because he's just that kind of jackass."

Haw! I never really gave it much thought but you're absolutely right (of course): "The Outsiders" is a positively inane moniker for a superteam. God, I miss the days when the names for superhero groups sounded more like civic organizations and less like garage bands.

Scipio said...

Indeed, BB, indeed.

Perhaps the 50-state initiatives holds out some hope:

"Villains! Know that, henceforth, should you be so foolish as to attempt to prey on the good citizens of Ohio, you shall face the wrath of ...


Anonymous said...

"Giving your silent stamp of approval to some new hero in issue 3 of their new soon-to-be-cancelled title"

I think Aztek can safely vouch for that.

Anonymous said...


I would totally read a book about various state-themed superteams. As long as a writer didn't resort to cliches, it could be awesome. I just don't want Georgia's superheroes to be "The Baron of Beer", "Unwed Mother", or "The White Supremacist".

rachelle said...

I am so a witness at that Mike W Barr trial. He should get the chair for Batman: Year Two alone. Everything else is just bonus evidence.

Scipio said...

"Batman: Year Two "

Wait; it that the one with Rachel the Nun?

Anonymous said...

Hey, that story where Batman did the tracheotomy on the baby with a ping pong ball lodged in its throat was actually pretty cool and badass and had a killer Mike Mignola cover!

rachelle said...

Batman: Year Two did indeed have Rachel the nun. At least she was going to be a nun. Until she met hot, hot Bruce Wayne.

Tony said...

I live in Columbus, Ohio, and I would totally read the Knights of Columbus.

(Although Great Lakes Avengers was kind of lame.)

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Aaaaaaand this is why I can't stomach the X-Men very well.

"Sniff! I'm an outcast! Different! Sure, I have the body of a Greek god and power enough to rock the planet, and I live in a mansion with a collection of beautiful people, have access to a super-duper jet-space shuttle dealy, and regularly traffic in adventures normal people can only dream of, but the neighbors look at me like I'm...different!"

Gack. Gack gack gack.

If only Aquaman's armies of fightin' fish would show up and slap these suckers in the face with a few mighty fins!

Would Batman's departure from the JLA in an unjustified hissy fit to form the Outsiders be the beginning of Modern Jerkass Batman? Hm. I wonder.

Scipio said...

"Would Batman's departure from the JLA in an unjustified hissy fit to form the Outsiders be the beginning of Modern Jerkass Batman?"

That's precisely what happened, HJ. And it took 20 years to fix. Which is why such ideas should be treated much more cautiously than they are!

Anonymous said...

Does it say bad things about me that I would buy and chortle over every single issue of Green Arrow and The Outsiders?

He's hip to the young people! He understands the struggle! And he has rockstar hair!