Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Flashpoint: The Outsider #3 review

That's a superb cover from Kevin Nowlan, with echoes of Brian Bolland's style in the figure of Blackout. It doesn't reflect the interior - Blackout's not even in the book - but, hey kids, comics!

The final issue of this Flashpoint mini-series sees Michael Desai, the Outsider, take on the one who sent assassins against him - J'onn J'onzz. This isn't the hero we know, it's a very different Martian Manhunter, one made vicious by first, Desai, then the Russians. The latter wanted their own Project: Superman so Desai, having gained control of J'onzz after Dr Erdel brought him to Earth, sold him on. Now it's time for the two super-powers to engage in final battle.

And that's just what it is, as one dies horribly (well, this is the World of Flashpoint). Once again writer James Robinson produces a dark Elseworlds tale powered by his portrayal of the Outsider, underworld fixer writ large. In three issues he's created a compelling bad guy, one empathetic enough to use his enemies' emotions against them. And if they have other weaknesses, so much the better. Showing us his story over several decades makes the fact that he sems able to defeat anybody more believable, while his love of tailoring is an amusing quirk (presumably Desai's penchant for white suits is due to last issue's formative Disco years).

There's effective artwork from Javi Fernandez once again. The forms he has shapeshifter J'onn take are as imaginatively frightening as the story demands, and he gives Desai enough charisma that it's conceivable people would follow him even without threats. Fernandez is gifted thoughtful colour work by Tanya and Richard Horie, while dependable Dave Sharpe provides the lettering (click to enlarge image).
It's a shame that even the gentle J'onn J'onzz is corrupted by this twisted world, but I suppose that's the (Flash)point. This issue ties into the event's greater story in that J'onn is allied with either the Amazons or Atlanteans. We don't find out whom, but my guess is the latter - J'onn's been closer to Aquaman than Wonder Woman in the regular DC Universe, and as no fan of fire he'd likely love an underwater world.

I expect the Outsider to appear in DC's New 52 books, as he should. He's one of the most interesting villains we've seen in quite a while - a thinker, like Lex Luthor, but a believable brawler too .... I'm interested to see where he could go post-Flashpoint.

6 comments:

  1. You know, for a moment after that first sequence, when they said they'd found his weakness, I'd expected to see a tame, blissed-out J'onn with a big plate of Oreos in front of him...

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  2. It was nice to find out what J'Onn was doing in the Flashpoint universe, but otherwise, I've felt a little bored by the Outsider title. If I compare it to Journey Into Mystery's take on the manipulative adventures of L'il Loki, it falls rather short as a "supervillain book".

    And the fact it ends with yet another "See you in FP #5!" depresses me. The mini just didn't have a coherent enough tale to tell for my tastes.

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  3. Brilliant image, Rob!

    Siskoid, I'm ashamed to say I have all of the new JiMs and have yet to crack one open. The Fear Itself banner always results in the book dropping to the bottom of the pile, then another week's comics appear ...

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  4. Aside from the fact Loki is working to defeat the Serpent from behind the scenes, there really isn't a whole lot about this that is Fear Itself (no hammer bearers or wanton destruction in Earth cities - which is the redundant, dreary, boring, futile part of the crossover).

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  5. Just wanted to say "thank you" for the good review. Richard and I had a lot of fun coloring this mini series.

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  6. Sounds great, Siskoid. I need a day off to catch up with recent comics.

    Hi Tanya, you're very welcome, I look forward to seeing where you and Richard pop up next.

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