Outsiders volume 2: Sum of All Evil


By Judd Winick, Tom Raney, Will Conrad, Tom Derenick & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-0243-8

Once upon a time superheroes, like firemen, sat around their assorted lairs or went about their civilian pursuits until the call of duty summoned them to deal with a breaking emergency. In the grim and gritty world after Crisis on Infinite Earths, the concept evolved with a number of costumed adventurers evolving into pre-emptive strikers…

After the deaths of a number of Teen Titan comrades, Arsenal convinced the heartbroken Nightwing to run a covert and pre-emptive pack of professed “hunters” to seek out and take down metahuman threats and extraordinary criminals before they could harm innocent lives or create chaos…

This second compendium collects issues #8-15 of the compelling and controversial Outsiders comicbook, ramping up the action and alienation even further as disaster and the tensions of living life outside the rules begins to take its inevitable toll…

This volume eschews individual issue titles but for your convenience and mine I’ve supplied them when applicable. The drama commences with the three-part ‘Devil’s Work’ by Judd Winick, Tom Raney & Sean Parsons as Arsenal, recovering from multiple gunshot wounds, calls in brutal vigilante The Huntress to bolster the team over the strident objections of Nightwing. Meanwhile Russian mobster Ishmael Gregor slaughters a bus full of people as the opening gambit in his scheme to steal the demonic powers of one-time super-villain Sabbac and bring about Hell on Earth…

The action continues in ‘Lightning from Above and Below’ (inked by Scott Hanna) as the new Sabbac (a supernatural super-being sponsored by devil-lords Satan, Any, Belial, Beeelzebub, Asmodeus and Craeteis in the way the ancient gods empowered Captain Marvel) trounces and severely wounds Jade, Thunder and especially Grace, prompting veteran hero Black Lightning to step in. Even with his aid the heroes are hard-pressed to stop Gregor and turn back an invasion of demons until Captain Marvel Jr. shows up in the concluding ‘A Family Matter’

A dark change of pace is offered with ‘Scream without Raising Your Voice’ illustrated by Will Conrad & Sean Parsons, as Arsenal comes to terms with the psychological trauma of taking a machine-gun burst to the chest helped by different kinds of tough love from Grace and Nightwing…

The remainder of the book is taken up with a spectacular battle with a resurgent Fearsome Five beginning with the prologue ‘Out with the New, In with the Old’ (Winick, Tom Derenick & Kevin Conrad) as fugitive mad scientist Dr. Sivana recruits and manipulates murderous metahuman Gizmo, Psimon, Jinx and Mammoth by promising to resurrect their dead comrade Shimmer, whilst the Outsiders’ solidarity and resolve begins to crumble after Huntress quits.

‘Five by Five’ opens with ‘New Business’ (art by Raney) as the restored Fearsome Five begin raiding numerous LexCorp holdings for Sivana, forcing the heroes to break into smaller teams and chase them down.

‘Strength in Numbers’ sees the Outsiders thoroughly beaten and only narrowly escaping with their lives prompting the quintet of super-psychopaths to turn on their boss. Going their own way the manic villains concoct a plan to gain global respect by nuking Canada with twenty-three stolen nuclear missiles.

As the battered Outsiders race to stop them, neither side is aware that the whole thing is a warped, Byzantine plan by an outside party to make a real killing…

Razor-sharp, rocket-paced, action-packed and edgily affecting, Outsiders was one of the very best series pursuing the “strike first and strike hard” hero-concept, generating some of the most compelling Fights ‘n’ Tights action of the last decade. Still punchy, evocative and extremely readable, these thrillers will delight older fans of the genre.
© 2004 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.