Winick is finally filling us in on what happened to the Outsiders during the year between the end of Infinite Crisis and the One Year Later storyline. It is a bit odd to wait almost an entire year before going back and doing this, but it still should be rather interesting. I’m confident that Outsiders #45 will be a solid read. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Judd Winick
Penciler: Carlo Barberi
Inker: Art Thibert
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Arsenal coming home and being greeted by his daughter. Roy goes to put his daughter to bed and she tells him that when she sleeps he gets sad. That he sits in the den and gets sad. Roy responds that he is not sad. He is just thinking.
We shift to three years ago. Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning, is Secretary of Education for the Lex Luthor administration. Two weeks ago Pierce introduced his niece Johanna to Oliver Queen to assist him in a lawsuit. Then Joanna was murdered.
The business man responsible for her death was Martin Somers. We see Black Lightning watching Mating from afar. Black Lightning seeking vengeance send lightning crashing down on Martin. Martin is pronounced dead. Black Lightning is horrified.
Jefferson goes and tells Ollie Queen what happened. Jefferson said he only meant to knock Martin down; he wasn’t trying to kill him. Jefferson said he struck out of rage and he took a life and he should pay for that. Ollie responds that Jefferson made a mistake, but Jefferson is a good man who has given so much more than he has taken. That Jefferson being incarcerated doesn’t help this world at all.
We shift to the end of Infinite Crisis. Black Lightning is with his daughter Thunder. Thunder is upset at all the people they lost like Jade, the Freedom Fighters and Conner Kent. Black Lightning responds that they allowed the darkness to overtake them. That they have condoned so many acts of evil for what they call the greater good. That there is right and there is wrong. That Black Lightning now realizes what he has to do.
We cut to Jefferson turning himself into the custody of Checkmate. Alan Scott and Mr. Terrific tell Jefferson that he can’t be locked in a facility with other metahumans because the villains will kill him within a week. Alan decides that they will give Jefferson a new identity and then incarcerate him. We see Jefferson being locked away at Iron Heights Prison.
We shift to Jason Todd talking with Nightwing. Jason says that Black Lightning is innocent. That Jefferson was tailed by Deathstroke. Deathstroke shot Martin with a toxic dart that evaporates inside the body so it is untraceable at the same time that Black Lightning hit Martin with a lightning bolt. Deathstroke figured that Black Lightning would second guess himself and eventually take himself out of the game by turning himself in for murder. That leaves one less super hero to deal with.
Jason says that he heard all of this from Deathstroke himself when Jason was eavesdropping on Deathstroke’s conversation with a fellow criminal.
We cut to Dick Grayson and Anissa Pierce (Thunder) going to visit her dad, Black Lightning at Iron Heights. Black Lightning scoffs at the story. Jefferson doesn’t believe that a villain like Deathstroke would be telling the truth. Jefferson said that he killed a man and that Anissa needs to deal with that fact.
We shift to Anissa knocking on Grace’s door. Grace answers and Anissa immediately gives Grace one massive kiss. Anissa then looks embarrassed and runs away. Grace follows her.
We see the two ladies sitting on the front steps to Grace’s apartment building. Anissa apologizes to Grace for kissing her. Grace says don’t worry about it. She didn’t mind. Grace then asks what Anissa is thinking about. Anissa responds that she is thinking about breaking her father out of prison.
The Good: I found Outsiders #45 to be a rather pedestrian read. I’m digging the panel time for Black Lightning. Stupid codename aside, Black Lightning is a great character. Winick has a nice feel for Jefferson’s personality. Black Lightning is a hero that earns the reader’s instant respect due to his strong moral convictions. Black Lightning embodies everything that makes a man a true hero.
I liked how Winick used the moral lessons from Infinite Crisis as the motivation for Jefferson to finally realize that he has to do the right thing by turning himself in for the murder of Martin Somers. Winick used Green Arrow to highlight the prevailing attitude of the heroes in the DC Universe prior to Infinite Crisis. That the ends justified the means. That heroes could engage in activities that blur the lines between right and wrong as long as the overall result was stopping a villain.
The heroes of the DC Universe pre-Infinite Crisis were suffering from the same sickness that Captain America and his cohorts in the Marvel Universe suffer from. The belief that they are a part of some privileged class. That they operate above the law. That what applies to you and me does not apply to them because they are super heroes.
Winick having Jefferson turn himself in was certainly a move that many heroes in the DCU would not have done. However, it is completely consistent with Jefferson’s personality and character to decide he had to do the time for his crime.
I also liked how Winick wrote Jason Todd’s character. Ever since Jason’s return, no writer has done a better job than Winick when writing Jason’s character.
The artwork was average. Nothing great, nothing terrible. I didn’t really dig how Barberi drew Grace. She looked way to soft and girly. Grace is many things, but “cute” is most definitely not one of them. I did like how Barberi drew Black Lightning when he powered up to blast Martin Somers.
The Bad: I thought it was odd that Winick would wait a year since the beginning of the One Year Later storyline began before going back to explain what happened to the Outsiders during that missing year. However, it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be an interesting story. Unfortunately, the story arc that Winick is giving just doesn’t interest me in the least bit.
There are several glaring flaws with this Black Lightning plotline. First, Winick created such a ridiculous basis for Black Lightning getting framed for murder. Deathstroke just happened to be tailing Black Lightning? Deathstroke then decides to make it look like Black Lightning killed Martin to that there would be one less hero to deal with? And Deathstroke shoots Martin with a toxic dart that evaporates inside the body? I don’t know, all of it just came across so painfully forced and contrived. It was a total miss for me.
Second, there is zero suspense in this Black Lightning plotline. The main reason because we already know that Jefferson is out of jail and operating with the Justice League of America in the present day. Also, because Winick wasted no time immediately telling the reader everything surrounding the murder of Martin Somers so that there is absolutely no mystery surrounding the murder.
At this point, I hope that Winick quickly wraps up this rather pointless Black Lightning plotline and moves onto explaining to the reader how the Outsiders ended up deciding to fake their death and go underground. Unfortunately, this current story arc is reading as nothing more than filler.
Overall: Outsiders #45 was a rather uninspired read. So far, this current story arc has been a total miss with me. Winick had this title purring like a kitten with the past story arc. It is a shame that Winick seems to have killed the momentum that he had built up on this title.