"Mad Scientists (Part Four, Finale: The Man Behind the Curtain)"
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Ron Randall & Pop Mahn (p), Art Thibert & Steve Bird (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Ten issues since the OYL crossover and the Outsiders have fallen into the baddest (yeah, baddest) rut of them all. Not only has the team characterization and interaction grown stagnant, even the story telling has become a tale of "same old, same old." Be it this issue or the third one before it or just about any from the last half dozen, apart from the odd event every now and then (e.g. the team revelation, Grace and Thunder’s relationship, the bit about Shift and Metamorpho, the team’s outing to the whole world), it is the same story every time around. The heroes show up, get beaten down like diaper wearing toddlers, get captured by the bad guys, then the bad guys make some mistake which allows the heroes to pull an escape after which they return the beating (with interest) on the bad guy’s headquarters during which the said villains make an easy escape. End of issue, end of arc, bring on the next one. It was the story with the previous Brain and Mallah story arc, and it is the same here with Sivana and Razor.
With Nightwing incapacitated (last issue), the rest of the Outsiders attack Sivana and his pet meta lackey. That they disregard his offer to "Just Talk" (forgoing the extra time that would have allowed them to come up with a better strategy) is a mistake but one that pales in comparison to the one that has them (not even one of them) not making one move to get the dart-gun away from the mad scientist. Imagine their surprise when Shorty-Baldy pulls a Nightwing on Katana and shoots her too. Way to act proactively. There might be not be an "I" in "team," but there is sure is one (in fact two) in "IDIOTS."
With two down, the others fall in line quickly and spend the better part of the remaining issue listening to the "save the world from itself" shtick that Sivana has prepared for them. Come on, how difficult would be it for one of them to get the gun and shoot Sivana with it? He might not give them the antidote if they beat and/or scare him, but when it is his butt that is on the line, you can bet your inheritance that he would leap for it, and in doing that, reveal it to them. How do I know this? Because Batman already did it, (though not with Sivana).
Still, even with all this, there was one big plus that this issue got, the "event" of this one if you will: Katana and her soul catcher sword. In a time when upstarts like the Huntress (Bertinelli), the current Phantom Lady or even the returned Batwoman get more attention, it is easier to lose track of the original definitive "Good-Bad Girl" of the DCU. Nevertheless, even in today’s DC, Katana is still a force to be reckoned with (and she does all this without having to resort to wearing skimpy clothes or striking cheesecake poses).
With two pencillers (Ron Randall, Pop Mahn), even with both trying to match each other’s style, there is a clear differentiation in the art, and that is a downer. With Matthew Clark needing frequent fill-ins, I would much rather have just one artist per issue than this. On the plus side, as I already stated, both Randall and Mahn do a good job of keeping close to the a set style and character depiction.
Conclusion: Winnick does a great job of maintaining a tight continuity (it helps that this series has been his from day one with issue #1). That said, I think it is time for the Outsiders to come inside a bit, and by that I mean get some proper interaction going with the general DCU (as also other heroes). And no, before anyone says another word, by interaction I do not mean lamoid crossovers/guest stars as was Agent Diana Prince showing up in Teen Titans #41. (Could Diana’s behavior be written any more air-headed teenage-ish? Maybe if they had her doing a sleepover with Wonder Girl, Miss Martian, Raven and Ravager.)
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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