Outsiders volume 1: Looking for Trouble


By Judd Winick, Tom Raney, ChrisCross, Ivan Reis, & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-0211-8

Once upon a time superheroes sat around their assorted lairs or went about their civilian pursuits until the call of duty summoned them like firemen – or Thunderbirds – to deal with a breaking emergency. In the grim and gritty world after Crisis on Infinite Earths, the concept changed with a number of costumed adventurers evolving into pre-emptive strikers – as best exemplified by the covert penal battalion the Suicide Squad. Soon the philosophy had spread far and wide…

Following the break-up of Young Justice and the – temporary – death of founding Teen Titan Donna Troy (see Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Death and Return of Donna Troy) a number of her grief-stricken comrades also changed from First Responders to dedicated if morally dubious hunters tracking down threats and menaces before they attacked – or indeed committed crimes at all…

This volume collects the initial storyline which introduced Judd Winick’s aggressive new take on edgy team-concept the Outsiders, compiling material from Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files 2003 and issues #1-7 of the compelling and much-missed monthly comicbook.

In the aftermath of a deadly battle wherein a sexy robot arrived from the future and precipitated a mini robot rebellion, costing the lives of psychic heroine Omen and the much beloved Troy, the surviving champions reformed the Teen Titans as a group dedicated to better training the heroes of tomorrow.

However, CIA trained ex-Green Arrow sidekick Arsenal felt that it was not enough and convinced the heartbroken Nightwing to help devise a covert and pre-emptive pack of professions to take out perceived threats before innocent lives were endangered. ‘A Day After…’ by Winick, Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis & Mark Campos set the scene, after which the series proper began with the three-part ‘Roll Call’ illustrated by Tom Raney & Scott Hanna.

‘Opening Offers’ introduced new characters Thunder (daughter of original Outsider Black Lightning) and enigmatic super girl Grace, established player Jade, recently resurrected and amnesiac Rex Metamorpho Mason and, in a not particularly welcome, wise or team-building move, the futuristic fem-bot who had started the whole mess. With her memory-banks scrubbed and keen to redeem herself, Indigo added eagerness and innocence to an embittered but highly motivated and very determined team…

Their first mission caught them off-guard and began when a cruise ship was hijacked and an army of talking gorillas invaded New York under the command of super-ape Grodd, but the devastating action of ‘Lawyers, Guns and Monkeys’ was quickly revealed to be no more than a sinister diversion as the Joker used the chaos to abduct new American President Lex Luthor, leaving the team with the unwelcome task of rescuing one of the people they would most like to take out…

ChrisCross & Sean Parsons depicted the Outsiders’ first true hunting party in ‘Brothers in Blood’: part 1 ‘Small Potatoes’ as, after a series of small time busts (acting on information from a mysterious and secret source), the squad uncovered a diabolical scheme by religious maniac Brother Blood to steal one million babies…

The cult leader activated hypnotised deep-cover agents in ‘Finders Sleepers’ and almost murdered Arsenal, but even as the hero was undergoing life-saving surgery the Outsiders, assisted by two vengeful generations of Green Arrow, rocketed to Antarctica where Blood was attempting to free and recruit 1,600 metahuman villains incarcerated in the maximum security super-prison the Slab.

As the battle raged and casualties mounted, Nightwing was forced to choose between saving the infants or allowing Blood and an army of criminals to escape…

This first collection ends on a powerfully poignant and personal note as Metamorpho at last discovered the shocking reason for his lack of memories and faced ultimate dissolution in the superbly downbeat ‘Oedipus Rex’ (Raney & Hanna)…

Fast-paced, action-packed, cynically sharp and edgily effective Outsiders was one of the very best series pursuing the “take-‘em out first” concept and resulted in some of the very best Fights ‘n’ Tights action of the last ten years. Still punchy, evocative and highly effective, these thrillers will delight older fans of the genre.
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