CONVERGENCE - BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #2

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When week three comes around again, Marc Andreyko and Carlos D'Anda will get together for some Morris Dancing, mid-air trapeze maneuvers, native plant landscaping tips, and late night intense Dungeons & Dragons. Plus, if you bring them some snacks, they'll also give you the second half of their tale of convergence among the heroes, or lack thereof, of the pre-Crisis Earth One, for DC Comics, in May, 2015.

To QUOTE Magic Johnson: “Ask not what your teammates can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your teammates.”

THE STORY:
To sum up, there are all these cities from dying realities, that were plucked from their own world, planted on this other world in some other reality, and stored under a dome for a whole year before being released and told that their champions need to fight champions from other cities for a chance of survival.

As luck would have it, our friendly neighborhood Outsiders found themselves trapped in the pre-Crisis Gotham City without any powers, having gone their separate ways for reasons left unknown. But fortunately, they all still keep their communicators in their ears in case Batman wants to get the band back together.

So the dome dropped and an OMAC-led army of mutants, presumably trapped in New York when it was harvested from Earth-AD, are storming the gates.  And, by gates, I of course mean the corner of Newton and Alcala.  And when I say OMAC-led, I of course mean Godmother-controlled-OMAC-led.

Fortunately, our heroes also have their powers back.  Well, the ones who had powers.  Batman and Katana just decided to get back to work now that the dome was down.  The latter only after being rescued from a pile of rubble.

So... they fight.

THE GOOD:
D'Anda's art shines again in this second issue.  It's not a direct reproduction of the characters as they looked in 1985 (or 1974, respectively), but is a great modernization of the looks they sported years ago without excessive change (There's a few rather random changes, but nothing major). He captures enough of the feel of Jim Aparo, Alan Davis, and Jack Kirby's styles, yet still brings his own style to the page to ensure the whole story feels like one world.  Modern art and print techniques also allow for nice effects like the constant lightning around Black Lightning's eyes or apparent proclivity of everyone from Earth AD towards foaming at the mouth.

On the story side, we need to once again acknowledge that the story is, to put it simply, subtle. Very subtle. With a team of six characters and only 21 pages of story, there's not a lot of time to really dig deep, yet Andreyko does what he can to touch on each team member's reaction to suddenly getting their powers back.  Or, in the case of the two without powers, the refocusing of their efforts.  For Batman, the shift is from his self-critical and futile research to his love of bossing others around.  Where as for Katana, the shift is from concern over a beloved ward to stabbing anything within sword's reach.

In this second issue, time is also taken to touch base with our seventh hero, trapped within the OMAC, Buddy Blanks, and his efforts to regain control from Godmother. The Outsiders never really remark upon the fact that there's someone in there who might be on their side, but the brief time we get with Buddy gives us just enough of a continuation from the brief Kirby miniseries we're picking up from.

Some of the best moments are the brief little glimpses of the imminent breakup of the group, specifically, Gaby's little moment about “being used to not having answers” and Batman's douchy call to arms.

THE BAD:
I have ranted previously about how far Andreyko's representation of the Outsiders strayed from the comic it's intending to resurrect.  What was really missing from this series, though, was anything that felt like it was the continuation of the story.  As I mentioned last month, the big challenge here is that the original Batman and the Outsiders run didn't really get interrupted by Crisis on Infinite Earths, so this story is stuck with showing how the characters -- at the point they were at when we took this break -- would respond to being trapped under a dome. 

In short, they break up but keep doing what they can to help.  And then when the dome comes down, they get back together to kick some OMAC butt.  Not very exciting.  Which is why, I'd assume, Andreyko tried to paint a picture of each individual character's reaction to the situation.  Which was, for the most part, very well done.  But it just left the pair of issues feeling flat in comparison to those who were fortunate enough to deal with characters who ceased to exist in 1985.

The biggest offense, however, is the repeated amount of page space spent on dealing with how Metamorpho was loving life under the dome because he could “be with Sapphire” -- which is still a sore spot with me, as there was absolutely nothing in the Outsiders original run to indicate that his “condition” in any way inhibited their relationship (I was just flipping through issue 24 where Rex and Sapphire are making out in the zoo before Rex and Simon Stagg get in to a literal tug-of-war over Sapphire).  That's the big one.  Everything else seems minor by comparison.

There was that moment when Katana shouts of “G-Gabby!” in reference to Gaby, but I suppose we can give her a pass on that because she was buried in chunks of Hospital.

On the art side, Black Lightning's mask appeared to have turned white this issue (as opposed to the black mask he sported in the first half), but with all the highlights and shadows going on thanks to his new face lightning, it was hard to tell if this was really a white mask or just a lot of reflections on his shiny black mask.  Either way, I of course noticed this time that the mask is also completely the wrong shape (Classic Outsiders shows Jefferson with a white mask that covers his forehead right up to his hairline).  Eh, there are worse offenses.

THE MUSIC:
You bet your life there's gonna be a fight.  You bet your life because the hill have eyes.  And then you're gonna die and then death is mine and then you . . . yeah.  The theme of the OMAC led mutant invasion from Earth-AD is, of course, The Misfits' Earth A.D.  Because they never wrote a song called Earth-51. Jerks.




THE COMPARISON:
For this issue's comparison I'm going to have to spoil a bit of the outcome. Skip to the conclusion if you really want to maintain your sweet child-like innocence.

Still here? Good. Glad you're not big on innocence. Brace yourself. Ready for it? Here I come, baby. Yeah, that's right. Batman and the Outsiders win. They defeat OMAC and the army of mutants decide that their best plan at that point would be to “Run away! Run away!”.  Much like the Knights of the Round Table in Monty Python's Holy Grail are so apt at doing.

THE CONCLUSION:
So yeah. They fight. Some blows are exchanged. Some bolts of electricity and aura-power are blasted. Some lava is blasted and some liquid nitrogen is dumped. It's a big superhero brawl. That's about it. Nothing too terrible. Nothing that interesting. It just is.

Batman closes this issue with a bit of soothsaying wisdom for the team. Want to take a guess as to what it is?

  • A friend is a present you give yourself.
  • You will see many youth, who wear their hair long like my people, come and join the tribal nations, to learn their ways and wisdom.
  • My daddy said 'stay away from Juliet'.
  • From the three water signs will be born a man who will celebrate Thursday as his feast day.
  • This isn't over yet. And I have a feeling it's not going to end well.
  • Disbelief destroys magic.
  • Pain is better than emptiness. Emptiness is better than nothing. And nothing is better than this.
  • Here, hold my beer.
  • Did somebody say 'Ni'?

*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.