Writer: Judd Winick
Pencilers Matthew Clark & Ron Randle
Inker: Art Thibert
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: This issue starts with a flashback of how Mallah and the Brain decided to begin their cloning project. They noticed that after fights they had blood on them from their enemies. They decided to collect the blood are DNA samples in something like a strand of hair from all their fights with various heroes. Over the years, they have collected samples from hundreds of heroes through the DCU. It is revealed that Mallah and Brain have a partner in this cloning project. Brain and Mallah talk to their partner via a video screen. The partner is a shadowy figure who looks like Dr. Sivana. They discuss their clones and how much money they have made selling them and how the cloning process makes their minds easy to control like mindless zombies.
We notice that Shift has stretched an ear and eye through the air vents to listen in on Mallah and Brain’s discussion with their partner. Shift retracts his ear and eye and tells Katana that Brain and Mallah have made numerous clones and have them stored all in one room called the “Nursery.”
We cut to the Outsiders tied up. Thunder is yelling at Grace for keeping her origin a secret from her teammates. Nightwing responds that Grace is only keeping it a secret from some of her teammates. Thunder is angry that Nightwing knows her secret and the rest of them do not.
We then shift to Katana and Shift in the Nursery. Katana decides to free the most powerful clone and use him as their “slave” to do whatever they say. Katana frees the Superman clone. Unfortunately, the Superman clone is distorted and flawed and is extremely uncontrollable. The Superman clones goes on a rampage and starts destroying Brain and Mallah’s lair. Katana and Shift use the ensuring chaos to break free the Outsiders. We are then treated to a massive brawl between the Superman clone, the Outsiders and Brain and Mallah.
The Superman clone ends up breaking out of the lair and fleeing the scene. Thunder then steps on Brain and threatens to crush his robotic body if Mallah doesn’t tell them who there is their partner in the cloning project. Brain tells Mallah to say nothing and let him dies. The love sick Mallah cannot bear to have his beloved Brain hurt, so he confesses that their partner is none other than Dr. Sivana. We then see Dr. Sivana watching the entire episode on a monitor screen. Dr. Sivana utters the words “Crap. Never trust a monkey in love.” (Classic!)
The Good: Winick turns in another solid issue. Outsiders #40 continues the string of nice issues on this title. I thought the opening scene where we learn about how Brain and Mallah formulated their cloning plan was pretty interesting. It was actually a pretty realistic and natural result of the typical slugfests that populate comic books. It only makes sense that after brawling with heroes, that the villains would have the blood and hair of their opponents on them.
This random observation gave berth to an ambitious cloning plan that has been carried out for years and is ripe full of potential plotlines with the various mindless clones that Brain and Mallah have created. I thought Winick came up with a good back story for the Brain and Mallah’s cloning program. And the addition of Dr. Sivana as their partner was a cool touch. By bringing in the classic Captain Marvel nemesis, Winick weaves the Marvel Family mythos into the mainstream DCU. I like to see more and more of the Marvel Family characters or their enemies showing up in other titles.
Katana releasing the cloned Superman and his ensuing rampage was well done. It provided for some quality action and it is always fun to watch a grotesque version of Superman destroy things. I’ll be interested to see what this Superman clone is up to now that he has escaped from the Nursery.
Winick also did a nice job turning up the tension between the Outsiders by revealing that Nightwing has known about Grace’s “secret.” Winick is writing Nightwing more and more like Batman. He operates in the same fashion and uses the other Outsiders like instruments to do what he wants and gives them only the information that he deems necessary. I’m curious to see if this causes some dissension within the ranks. I hope that Winick draws this out a little before revealing Grace’s origin.
The final scene was by far the best. Winick continues to flesh out the undying love that Mallah has for Brain. The kind of love that makes you to idiotic things. Mallah confessing that Dr. Sivana is their partner leads to what is now one of my favorite lines in comics: “Crap. Never trust a monkey in love.” Classic! That panel of Dr. Sivana uttering that sentence reminded me of something that you would see in the Venture Brothers.
Winick served up plenty of well crafted dialogue. Winick is able to mix in plenty of humor with rather serious dialogue. It is a wonderful change of pace that makes this issue an enjoyable read. Once again, Winick delivers fantastic chemistry between the Brain and Mallah. I have never really thought much of these two characters. However, Winick’s spin on their relationship has gotten me to enjoy these characters much more than before.
The pacing to this issue was just right. This issue had a nice flow and smoothly shifted from scene to scene. The story was focused and moved along with a purpose. This issue also had a good blend of drama and action. Winick is really crafting a solid story arc with over the past several issues.
The Bad: I have no real complaints. I bashed this title back with the first two issues for the One Year Later storyline. Therefore, I’m not going to nitpick Winick when I think he has greatly improved his writing on this title.
Clark and Randall’s art is a bit schizophrenic for me. One panel looks nice and the other looks weak. There also is a lack of consistency in the faces of the various characters. They seem to slightly morph and stretch with each panel. Usually I think having two pencilers on one issue is a terrible mistake. It usually breaks up the visual flow of the comic and gives a disjointed look to the issue.
Overall: Outsiders #40 was another solid issue. Winick is really having a good stretch on this title delivering a entertaining story arc. This title is certainly worth giving a try. It is a neat offbeat super hero team that you don’t see in any of the other super hero teams.