Outsiders (vol.3) #19 (2005)

Outsiders (vol.3) #19 (February, 2005)
“Most Wanted, Part 3”
Story – Judd Winick
Art – Carlos D’Anda
Colors – Sno-Cone
Letters – Pat Brosseau
Associate Editor – Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.50

Today we’ll wrap up “Most Wanted”.  You think Roy and the Gang will get there in time to save Lian?  Well, of course they will silly… they’ve gotta save her in order to kill her five years later!

And just check out that cover… some prominent placement on that nasty Dorito crumb on Roy’s chin.  Yeeuck…

We open in Roy’s apartment, where the Outsiders are checking out the crime scene.  If you recall, the place had been left rather a mess, with the almost execution-style hit on the nanny.  Worth noting that Dick kinda manipulates the body… lifting its arm.  Doesn’t seem like something he ought to do… but, what do I know?  I wasn’t trained by the world’s greatest detective or anything.  Off to the side, Roy is on the phone with Ollie and he’s absolutely freaking out… not that I can blame him.  Ollie doesn’t appear to think this situation is as urgent as Roy is making it out to be (whaaaaa?).  Dick tells him to settle his tea kettle… when maybe he ought to be telling him “Just call Cheshire”, because she could probably crack this case faster than any of them.

After questioning Roy’s neighbors, the Outsiders learn that there was a strange black van bearing a bird logo in the neighborhood… which is, ya know, pretty convenient.  It’s not enough for Grace however, she’s still pretty dour on the whole thing.  Off to the side, Dick gets a call from our man John Walsh who has a hot-tip.  Remember that guy who recognizes Roy and tipped off Tanner last issue?  Well, he’s being transferred to another facility… and if the Outsiders just happen to intercept him… well, you know.  Worth noting that Dick is almost dismissive of Mr. Walsh here… which, I dunno… doesn’t seem right considering Dick dragged him into this to begin with.

Way to live up to your name there, Dick.

And so, the Outsiders head off to meet up with the transfer van… and it goes about as well as you might expect.  They make a big production out of it… likely endangering everyone in the area, when they could’ve probably just stood in front of it while holding a hand up.

Anyhoo, Jade yanks the goon out of the van with a construct hand, and dangles him in front of Roy who lines an arrow up about a half-inch away from his eye.

The goon squeals, revealing that Tanner has planes.  And so, we’re off to an airport.  After a brief skirmish with Tanner’s security, the Outsiders are able to locate Lian.

Grace is happy that Lian was saved… but cannot hide her disappointment that it seems as though Tanner has once again gotten away.  Then… she gets a call.

From here we get about four pages of Grace turning Tanner’s face into hamburger meat.  It’s pretty powerful, I’ll admit… but maybe a bit long.  At the end of the beating, Grace realizes that no matter what this dude did to her, she cannot bring herself to kill him.  Instead, she strips him down to his undies and ties him to a parking meter… I’m going to assume the meter is outside the police station, but it isn’t made clear.

We rejoin Grace in John Walsh’s office, where he’s kind of surprised… and a little relieved that she didn’t kill Tanner.  Considering he’s the one that tipped her off to the baddie’s location, I suppose he’d have a little bit of the culpability.

We wrap up back at Roy’s apartment, where it’s made clear that… even though they saved Lian, they didn’t exactly get the same one back.  She’s now seen things… hell, she’s been branded!  It’s not something we think about much in comics… or are supposed to think about, perhaps… but even those who are lucky enough to be “rescued”, aren’t always “saved”.

Pretty strong ending here.  A little convenient, perhaps… but plenty powerful.

I want to talk a little bit more about Lian’s return… like what would come “post credits”.  To Winick’s credit… and I don’t often give him much… focusing on Lian being altered… broken, even… upon return is one of those “inconvenient truths” that we just don’t like to think about.

I mean, she very likely saw her Nanny get his brains blown out… then she was abducted… and had her lower back burned with Tanner’s “brand”.  This isn’t going to be the same little girl who was overly-concerned with her “stupid-head” friend who blows his nose on his sleeves at school.

Not only is she irreparably damaged… we’ve also got Roy.  There’s no way he can’t blame himself for everything that happened.  Also… Dick.  If Dick never pushed for the Outsiders to “go public” and work with America’s Most Wanted… would this have gone down the same way?  This is really a much deeper story if you care to look at it this way.

I feel like this is something that is downplayed in comics… and perhaps with good reason.  I mean, it would be difficult to look at our heroes the same way if we see evidence that even those they rescue still bear the scars of their trauma for the rest of their lives.  There’s my pitch to DC Comics… a series where rescued civilians share their stories with a therapist.  That’s a thousand-pennies idea right there!

But seriously, I feel like we purposely ignore concepts like that… just like in real life.  The “after” is never something we want to focus on, because… the “after” never ends!  We can draw a line under things like abduction, incarceration, injury, addiction… but once that “now” passes, these folks need to continue on with their lives.  We like to think about people “beating” their addictions, being released from rehab… but, that’s kind of where we “stop” thinking about them.  We don’t focus on the daily/hourly/minutely struggle that they deal with for the rest of their lives… because, let’s face it, that’s not a “nice” story.

And neither is the one we just read.  It’s mean… nasty… cold… and unfortunately, all too real.  I give Winick a bunch of crap when we cover his books here.  I feel like he’s too preachy… too soap-boxy… too pet-causey, but here… I think this one went the way it needed to in order to have the most lasting impact.

Let’s talk dialogue… because that’s another thing I usually grill Winick over.  It’s strange how we kinda flip-flop between after-school special speak… Kevin Smith speak… and 80’s Action Movie speak here.  In particular, there’s that scene where Dick gets a tip from John Walsh… and he really lives up to his name by dismissively asking “How does that help us?“.  Well, jackass… it’s the only lead you’ve got… and it’s being given to you by a guy who’s risking his reputation by working with you… so, just take the damn tip and say “thank you”.  A-hole.

Speaking of the tip… I get that this is a comic book, and we need “high action”, but the way in which they intercept the transfer?  Totally wrong-headed.  It was overly dangerous… not only to the public, but to the very guy they needed to question!  If that fella got bonked in the head when the van was flipped, what good would he have been to the team?  What kind of information could you get from a dead guy?!  So dumb.

Overall… even with all the issues I had with this issue (and arc), I still can’t get overly mad at it.  It’s better than a “very special issue”, but probably not as good as a “regular” issue.  I’d say it’s worth a look.

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