As many of you know, I have a high tolerance for bad comics. But these ones are trying even my patience.
Oh, lord. Outsiders. For my money, Dan Didio has done an acceptable job of steering DC over the last few years, but he needs to stop embarrassing himself and hire a real writer—or at least a scripter—for this book. Listen, I’m thrilled that Didio has love for Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo’s stellar years on the original series. Me too, Dan! So howzabout we show that love by treating ourselves to a competent wordsmith and a good artist to bring all that awesomeness to a new generation of comic readers, huh?
Kudos to Didio for reuniting the team and for coming up with some story ideas that, for example, build on the various lesser iterations of the team in the various failed relaunch attempts of the 90s (eg. Looker as Vampire). This is all solid, and I have been pining for such developments for years (as readers of this blog know all too well).
But Didio isn’t a writer. He has no sense of pacing and absolutely no ear for dialogue. Evidently, Didio prepared for his new gig by rereading the original series and making note of the signature character beats and dialogue ticks Barr designed. This is sensible, and in more competent hands would be swell. But, Didio combines his aping of classic Outsiders mannerisms with dreadfully inept vulgarity, trash talk, and posturing. It’s obviously meant to come across as hip and badass, but the effect is quite different. It’s as if my dad were having a midlife crisis and decided to score points with me by reviving an old comic series he knew I used to like; in other words: mortifying.
The bottom line is that I’m conflicted. I love that this title exists and has taken the direction it has under Didio’s stewardship. Presumably, if Outsiders is Didio’s pet project, that bodes well for the longevity of the title, even if the sales are soft. On the other hand, we’re stuck with this kind of hurtful mishegas:
Perhaps the most I can hope for is that Didio will find the task of scripting a monthly series too taxing on top of his regular job and will pass the reigns to someone else, even if he retains the role of plotter. Such a development might be the best of both worlds, since his involvement would keep the direction steady, while the quality of the scripts themselves could only improve.
Outsiders is pretty awful, but at least it isn’t completely offensive. The same cannot be said for Titans: Villains for Hire, which is, hands down, the worst comic I have read this year (I didn’t read the much-maligned JLA: Cry For Justice; perhaps they are on par?). Basically, Deathstroke assembles a “Titans” team of villains and Dlisters and they proceed to toy with and eventually murder Ryan Choi, The “All-New” Atom. Turns out Deathstroke was hired by Choi’s psychotic nemesis Dwarfstar, and the issue’s climax is the delivery of Choi’s tiny corpse to Dwarfstar in a matchbox. Oops. Did I forget to say “spoilers”? I hope I did spoil it, and I hope you don’t buy it. It’s a gross waste of time on a number of different levels. I won’t bother to expand, except to say that I agree with every word of Greg McElhatton’s review at CBR, which gives the book an absolutely earned rating of 0 out of 5 stars. I’m cancelling my subscription to Titans, incidentally.
Wait–did I say that Outsiders wasn’t offensive? While looking for a cover scan of the latest issue, I encountered some speculation that the “Harold” character in this issue is based on a Didio-bashing message board troll. If so: grow up, Dan!