Comic Book Review: Outsiders #44

I have to say that I have been surprised and impressed with the overall quality of work that Winick has cranked out on the Outsiders since the One Year Later storyline began. I really enjoyed the story arc that ended with the last issue. I’m pretty optimistic that Winick has really hit his stride on this title and that Outsiders #44 is going to be another solid read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Judd Winick
Penciler: Carlo Barberi
Inker: Art Thibert

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the members of the Outsiders on the Pequod trying to deal with being fugitives in their own way. Thunder and Grace play video games together. Boomerang and Katana get drunk together. Metamorpho sits alone. And Nightwing broods in the Pequod’s command center.

Nightwing isn’t thinking about how Sivana is on the loose. How Sydney, Australia still remains without any technology and its citizens devoid of any memory. How the Outsiders have been outed. Instead, Nightwing thinks about the events that led them to this current situation.

We then flashback to one year ago. Arsenal is the leader of what is left of the Outsiders. The team consists of Arsenal, Shift, Grace and Thunder. The Outsiders brawl with a small cell of Dominators. The Outsiders take down the Dominators fairly quickly. After defeating the Dominators, Arsenal tells the team that it looks like the Dominators were going to try and set of some type of old alien bomb. The bomb is in bad shape and looks so rusted that it probably would never have detonated.

Grace says this was a waste of time. Arsenal counters that this was a good catch. That this was an alien sleeper cell and they posed a threat. Grace retorts that they are not a sleeper cell. They were left behind by their invading army. That they didn’t even know that their army got defeated years ago. They are like Japanese WW II pilots who got show down and wandered the jungle for years still thinking their were fighting WW II. Grace says this is a joke just like the Outsiders.

Shift then tells Arsenal that they really need some more team members. That with Starfire quitting, Captain Marvel, Jr. off dealing with the insanity of the world of magic and Jade getting killed that things have been rough for the Outsiders lately.

We cut to Thunder reading various news clippings about her father, Black Lightning, being in jail for murdering someone. We then shift to Thunder knocking on Grace’s apartment door. Grace answers and is surprised to see Thunder. Thunder says that she isn’t here for anything team related. She just needed to talk to someone. However, Grace is currently partying with some rock band that is in town for a gig. Thunder says she doesn’t want to intrude and leaves.

We shift to Nightwing meeting with Jason Todd on the roof of a building in Gotham. The two immediately begin brawling with each other. They end up at a stalemate with Jason’s gun to Dick’s head and Dick’s nightstick at Jason’s throat about to crush it. Jason tells Dick that he didn’t ask Dick to meet with him just so they could fight. That Jason has information. Jason says that Black Lightning is innocent. That he never killed anyone. End of issue.

The Good: Outsiders #44 was another good read. Winick has been doing a pretty solid job on this title ever since the One Year Later storyline began. Winick served up plenty of nice dialogue and displayed some nice humor. Winick does a great job giving each Outsider their own unique voice. Each character has a pretty well developed personality. It is clear that Winick enjoys these characters and it shows in the good feel that he has for each one of them. This also enables Winick to create some fine chemistry between the various team members.

With Outsiders #44, Winick decided to explore what happened with the Outsiders during the year of 52. It is a bit strange to wait so long, but I’m definitely curious to see just what the Outsiders went through that led them to their current situation one year later.

Winick shows us an Outsider team that is led by Arsenal and is in a complete state of disarray. Much like how Johns deconstructed the Teen Titans during the events of 52 only to rebuild them in the One Year Later storyline, Winick is tearing apart the Outsiders in order to show us how they were rebuilt right before the One Year Later storyline.

The Outsiders in this issue are definitely at an all time low. They are down to just four members and none of them outside of Arsenal think they are doing anything constructive. Jade is dead and Thunder’s father, Black Lightning, is in jail for murder. Winick has the Outsiders close to rock bottom and it should be interesting to see how the team survives this bleak situation.

Winick took this opportunity to begin to lay the foundation for the relationship between Grace and Thunder. I know many readers thought that the lesbian relationship between Grace and Thunder came out of nowhere and felt a bit forced. Winick is evidently going to use this flashback story arc to show to the reader how Grace and Thunder’s love for each other blossomed. Evidently, Grace is bi-sexual which makes me even more curious to see how Winick pulls this off.

Winick handled the Nightwing/Jason scene just right. I have always thought that Winick has done the best job writing Jason Todd’s character ever since he was re-incarnated as the Red Hood. Winick definitely writes a much more complex and intriguing Jason Todd compared to the horrible version of Jason Todd that Bruce Jones gave us over in Nightwing.

I’m glad to see Winick writing Jason Todd’s character again and I am confident that Winick will do a great job with Todd’ character in the story arc. Plus, it is always entertaining to see these two “brothers” try and co-exist. The Red Hood is an explosive and unpredictable element that should keep this story arc interesting.

The Black Lightning in jail for murder plotline is interesting. I think this should provide a good foundation for a rather entertaining story arc. If nothing else, this plotline should provide for some good character growth for Thunder. I still am not all that impressed with Thunder’s character. Maybe Winick will take this plotline as an opportunity to get me to like her character more.

The Bad: Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we are finally finding out what the Outsiders were up to during that missing year. And I definitely think that Winick owed it to the reader to tell this story. However, I just think it is a bit questionable Winick’s timing for a flashback story arc at such a late date.

The One Year Later event took place almost one year ago way back in March of 2006. Waiting almost an entire year to finally explain to the reader what the Outsiders did during the skipped year seems a bit odd. You would think that Winick would have done it a little earlier. Hopefully, this flashback story arc isn’t a long one in order to prevent this title from getting stuck in neutral while Winick tells us what happened in the past.

Plus, waiting so long has massively lessened the tension and intrigue over the Black Lightning in jail for murder plotline. This is because we know that Black Lightning has been freed from jail and currently a part of the Justice League of America.

I found Barberi’s artwork to be average. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything great, either.

Overall: Outsiders #44 was another solid read. Winick is doing a good job making the Outsiders a reliable title. I think that this flash back story arc has the potential to be pretty interesting. I can’t recommend that you immediately run out to your local comic book shop and give this title a try. However, if you have some extra money to spend on another comic book, then I’d definitely give the Outsiders a try.