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Outsiders #16

Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



ďA Change of Plans Ö ď

Scribe: Judd Winick
Art: Dan Jurgens (p), Nelson (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
Remember that boy-bonding mock-battle between Arsenal and Nightwing from a few issues back? Theyíre at it again; only this time bone-crunching is more the goal. For all the raw power that exists on this team, things are pretty messed up and dysfunctional.

Comments:
First off, Jurgens is the best pinch-hitter DC could have. They seem to rely on him to fill in whenever a regular penciller is away, and he always brings his clean, distinctive style, even to breakdowns (as on the final Legion arc with Gail Simone) or here to a title that uses some of the characters from his own Teen Titans past. What a great job he does, easily on a par with Chris Cross or regular artist Raney. The characters look right, very iconic DC, their emotions fit the story, and both quiet and quick action scenes are well-served by Jurgensí solid command of anatomy.

The story:
This issue is a follow-up of sorts to pressures building since before the attack of the Fearsome Five, and the events therein feel inevitable. Jurgens draws a decisive Jade, resolute in her plan to correct the ongoing flaws with Nightwingís improvised team. Winick may not think much of her power levels, but heís got a handle on Jade as a seasoned heroine who knows what isnít working when she sees it.

In fact, his greatest strength as a writer continues to be characterization, as he has established solid reasons for each member of the team to stick around, reasons that hold up even after the various defeats that have been handed to them in the past year. Thunder is still the wide-eyed, somewhat callow youth, and Black Lightning her supportive, but very hesitant father. Arsenal is as dense (and as sincere) as ever. Indigo and the Metamorpho clone are building a surprisingly charming relationship for oddly artificial life-forms, and Grace is as tough a bitch as ever.

The capper, however, is Nightwing, in full meltdown mode without realizing it at all. Jadeís final action of bringing back someone from Dickís past for the cliffhanger looks set to be a major wakeup call for the former Robin, though it could make this book even more indistinguishable from Teen Titans.

Still interesting:
I think Iíve got that one figured out, though. Each of these books is like half of the last Titans series, the one that ended rather meekly. TT focuses on the kids borrowed from Young Justice, and this one deals with the travails of our by now adult legacy heroes, trying to fill their mentors shoes and stumbling along the way.

Best part of the book:
Thereís a telling verbal spar-fest between Dick and Thunderís dad, but itís nothing next to the brutal, bloody fight between Dick and Roy, one that unfolds silently with efficient style by Jurgens for several pages. Thatís it between two such close friends only makes it more intense.

Also good:
I thought at first the ornate cover was by Lightle, but itís Ian Churchill restraining himself a bit to celebrate Jadeís power with only a slightly impossible pose.



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