Saturday, February 11, 2017

Convergence: Batman and the Outsiders #1 (2015)


Convergence: Batman and the Outsiders #1 (June, 2015)
"The New Normal"
Writer - Marc Andreyko
Artist - Carlos D'anda
Colors - Gabe Elteab
Letters - Steve Wands
Assistant Editors - Brittany Holzherr & Michael Kraiger
Editor - Marie Javins
Cover Price: $3.99

I think I've mentioned before that what brought me back to DC Comics in a big way was, of all things, Convergence.  Certainly not for the event in and of itself, but instead for the possibilities.  I thought this would end with the return of what I consider to be my DC Universe.

I was hopeful that it wouldn't just be a time-filler while the "big guns" moved offices from one coast to the other.  With the benefit of hindsight... it kinda feels like this was exactly what it was.  I remember the way it was spun... and how dimmer my hope became with each leak.  First it was "everything is open and on the table"... that changed to "letting fans say goodbye to old favorites".  It was a confusing time for fans... and, I don't think anybody... pro or otherwise had any idea where it was going to lead.

As for Batman and the Outsiders... this was a team I'd, I don't wanna say "ignored", but never really paid much mind to.  In writing this blog for the past little while, I was afforded several opportunities to remedy that... and, lemme tell ya... they're now one of my favorite teams (and favorite runs!).

A while back they discovered when you mix chocolate and peanut butter, the result it an almost sinful magic... now what happens when we mix a wonderful property from the 1980's with... whatever the hell a Convergence is?

*By the way, I bought the Convergence tie-ins in a bundle from Discount Comic Book Service... it was a killer deal.  My only problem is that I accidentally chose the, rather lackluster, Chip Kidd variant bundle.  That said, the cover posted above is not the version I own, though I'd rather it was.  I will place my cover down below... get ready to be underwhelmed.

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Gotham City is under a dome... and has been for almost an entire year.  If you're familiar with Convergence... you are almost certainly familiar with this concept.  Batman watches over his city on "Dome Day" #364.  He's feeling like a bit of a failure for his inability to crack the code.  He heads off and is met by Commissioner Gordon who informs him that, guess what... the people of Gotham are counting on him!  Way to kick a guy when he's down, Jim.


Elsewhere Jefferson Pierce, in full Black Lightning garb, is helping a construction crew set up solar panels.  It is here where we learn that the super-powered characters are far less so under the watchful hexagoniness of the dome.


At the Gotham City Free Clinic, Dr. Leslie Thompkins is doing her thing.  The place is absolutely mobbed, life under the dome appears to have caused up some stir-craziness within the otherwise completely level-headed Gothamites... heh.  Katana enters and is escorted to a back room.  Inside is a comatose Halo.  Katana stands at her bedside and holds vigil.


We shift to another construction-type scene... this time with Geo-Force, who is busy moving Earth... but we all know he no longer has powers here, so the dude is actually just physically moving giant slabs of stone.  Pretty bad-ass, GF.  After quitting time, he and his work-peers head to a local bar to get sloshed.  While there, Brion wins a round of drinks by besting a big fella at arm-wrestling.


Now things aren't all that bad for a certain Outsider.  Of course, we're talking about our old friend Rex Mason... Metamorpho!  Under the dome he has lost his powers... as well as his chemical burniness and off-putting appearance.  He is with his lady love, Sapphire Stagg... who is preparing a meal of garlic ENcrusted steak.  Encrusted... really?  Gross.  Remind me never to eat at the Mason-Stagg house.


At the Batcave that evening, Batman whiles away in front of the Bat-Computer... luckily the dome didn't affect that, right?  He mentions that he had deduced the dome had been erected twelve hours after it had... I'd have to assume for the rest of Gotham, it only took looking at the sky one-time to realize there was a dome there.  Anyhoo... Alfred arrives for high-tea, and tells him not to push himself so hard.


The next morning marks the one-year anniversary of the dome's arrival.  Here we get a pretty great run of pages... it's very cinematic, and we get to see the entire team of Outsiders go about their morning routine.  For many Convergence-veterans, you know what's about to happen... we're about to get... THE SPEECH.


I feel like Batman and the Outsiders side-steps the normal waste of pages that THE SPEECH usually takes up, with it's rather stellar storytelling.  We hear from Telos, and he reactivates the powers of the super-set... it's really very well done.  Black Lighning gets lit up, Halo wakes up from her coma, Brion starts really movin' Earth... 


... and sadly, Metamopho reverts to his "normal" form... while in the shower with his wife (I think they're married by this point).


Telos informs them that champions must rise... and fight.  We wrap up with an introduction to the Outsiders' opponent... the One Man Army Corps himself... OMAC!


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Now Convergence gets a lot of crap... I know I've given it my fair share as well.  This issue, however, was pretty great for what it was.  It was admittedly a bit on the shallow side... just a quick intro to the team living their "new normal" before yanking the carpet out from under them.  That's pretty much how most of the Convergence tie-ins went.  So, why am I okay with that here?

To be honest, I'm really not sure.  In my recent Batman and the Outsider reads, what stuck with me the most is how Barr and Aparo (and later Davis) would let us see the characters at their most mundane.  Like, we would go to class with Brion, watch Gaby get her hair cut... just every day things.  When we saw them in costume it felt like a natural extension of their "normal" personalities... which, to me, made those stories and characters resonate so.

Here, it's much the same.  The Outsiders, without their powers, are still trying to make a difference in the world... as different and shrunken as it may be.  Black Lightning and Geo-Force helping in construction... just feels right.  Rex Mason simply enjoying the ability to kiss Sapphire... not knowing if they're going to have a "tomorrow"... just works.  Katana holding vigil over a comatose Gaby... and we know this is probably a daily occurrence... just works.  Batman himself feeling as though he's failed his city... failed his teammates... I'm gonna say it again... it just works.

Everything here makes sense... and when Telos pull the rug, there is a true sense of loss... at least I felt one.  The Outsiders made this new-Gotham a home... but that's no more.  Now they're going to have to fight... because, I dunno... we don't want younger readers to become too attached to these characters maybe?  Who knows... At least we for the most part side-stepped several static pages of THE SPEECH.

Overall, if you're going to read any Convergence tie-in mini... you can do far... far... FAR worse than Batman and the Outsiders.  This is one of the few I thoroughly enjoyed... and one that I've actually made the conscious decision to revisit.

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(Not the) Letters Page:


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Variant Cover:


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2 comments:

  1. God those Chip Kidd variants were terrible. An obscured view of your favorite classic characters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huge disappointment! I was so looking forward to seeing all of the classic logos again... man, when I opened my shipment I was pretty put-off. What more, after getting the first issue of the Kidd variants, I figured I might as well get the second in that version as well!

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