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Outsiders #9

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



ďDevilís WorkĒ

Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
A newly risen demon seems well-nigh unstoppable, not least because he really enjoys his newfound drives towards murder and torture. Our somewhat low-budget team is too easily overpowered by this guy, as guest star Black Lightning cruelly points out.

Comments:
I was wary of this development last issue, as the previous iteration of Titans (face it, this book and the new Titans are like strange offspring of that title, splitting the cast so newbies and youngsters can be folded in on two fronts) also brought in a demonic antagonist early on. But the vile Sabbac has none of the fey ennui of the sneaky Goth. Winick does a very good job of setting up his sordid past as a mobster, and it gets hard to argue with Sabbac/Ishmaelís reasoning even as he wreaks carnage. Heís like a sane and centered Drusilla. But more on that below.

Though Chris Cross was no slouch, itís great to see Raney back on the title where he belongs. His characters are lithe and spry without being winsome or super-model thin, his action scenes are intense, and his facial expressions are character-driven and scene-appropriate. Thereís little confusion about whoís who, though of course heís been given a fairly distinctive cast of near-misfits to work with from the beginning.

Iíve always really liked Black Lightning, and while I donít approve of the stance he takes towards his daughter (it reeks of contrived conflict), Iím happy to see him listen to reason this issue while offering some of his own, and even better, he suits up when called upon (interesting that he wears a sleek new one on the cover but is pure old school inside; plans for future appearances?).

Iím all for Huntress taking Arsenalís seat (temporarily) on the team, and I still like the character because at least she says whatís on her mind, to everyone. What I donít like is Winickís approach to Jade. While she speaks like an experienced heroine, thereís nothing novel about her use of the green, making her look both unimaginative and ineffective at times. Címon, this girl was born with it; she can do better than chains and elephants.

I like the surprise ending, because Winick sets up that Sabbac does indeed have heroic counterparts. I donít know if heís really a part of the Marvel Family continuity, but like them, his power manifests only when he says a magic word. Knowing this, he quite wisely refuses to ever say it again, choosing to stay powered up as he gets all the benefits (strength, flight, invulnerability) and (mostly) retains his already vile personality.

Iím hoping he is a part of continuity, because this book (like Titans) is all set to dig up a variety of old threads from all over the Dc-verse, making it ideal for long-term readers and avid fanboys. The middling score, however, comes because this issue is almost all just DEMON SMASH, with lots of defeat and not much heroism for our good guys. Well, except maybe for Grace, who is REALLY. TICKED. OFF, and rightly so, promising some intense payback next issue.



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