Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mini-Views: Flashpoint - The Outsider #1.

Flashpoint: The Outsider #1.

Written by James Robinson.
Illustrated by Javi Fernandez
Cover by Kevin Nowlan

This one intrigued me. The Outsider is one of the weirder Batman villains out there, and one of the more obscure so to take the character down off the shelf and provide a new take on the character for the Flashpoint crossover got me intrigued. My initial impression was that the character was actually a metahuman version of Lex Luthor or Alfred Pennyworth (the Outsider in the original comics was Alfred, resurrected from the dead and slightly mutated. He got better) but in point of fact the character merely shares the name and general appearance of the original.

This version of the character is Michael Desai, a metahuman mastermind with a penchant for fine suits, fine living, and a vast criminal network that allows him opportunities to remove any potential threat to his interests. Over the course of the first of this three-part series we see the character in his element, brokering deals and trying to play the chaos of the Flashpoint Earth to his best advantage. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your viewpoint) his efforts are (almost) thwarted by a group of vengeful fallen heroes who managed to breach his inner sanctum and cost him dearly in terms of resources and employees (plus they destroyed his suit, which is really just too much). Those expecting Truth, Justice, and the American Way to triumph are reading the wrong book. It doesn't end well for the would-be avengers.

This one was a pleasant surprise. Usually I find villain books to be a bit of a bore, or an uncomfortable read given the protagonists' anti-social (and psychotic) values, but the Outsider interests me. He's a businessman first and foremost, playing the 'good' and 'bad' guys off each other in ways that best benefit himself. He's no paragon of virtue, but neither is he a complete monster. He just. . .is. Even when enraged, he informs his enemies that what he's doing isn't personal, oh no. It's just smart business.

James Robinson handles the writing here and the pleasant surprises continue. His dialogue is actually solid, the characters engaging, and his sometimes overly florid turn of phrase is under control. Javi Fernandez's art is a suitable mix of bold and grim, and his designs for the Outsider, his underlings, and the would-be avengers (I won't spoil their identities but I have to admit I got a kick out of them) are all engaging. The cover by Kevin Nowland is, of course, utterly boss but saying a Kevin Nowlan piece is awesome is like commenting that water has been known to be moist.

The Outsider and his cartel would make for a great crime network in the DCU proper. Shame it'll all be swept under the rug in the wake of the upcoming reboot.

Recommended. I'm interested in seeing where this one leads.


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