Batman and the Outsiders #31 (March, 1986)
“The Truth About Looker, Part 4: Pawn of the World Below”
Writer/Editor – Mike W. Barr
Artist – Alan Davis
Letters – John Workman
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Cover Price: $0.75
Now, we’ve been covering Christmas comics for three years at this point… and I feel like during every go-round, we get an issue of Outsiders! It’s surprising for a property with so few issues (relative to DC’s legacy books) to have so many Christmas issues!
I mean, the I feel like the Teen Titans are still living off The TT’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol! for a half-century whereas the Outsiders, for a time, were havin’ one a year!
We open, and it’s Christmastime in Gotham City. A pair of lovers might be forced to celebrate the Holiday without their mates… first, Greg Briggs, the husband of Emily… second, Sapphire Stagg-Mason, the wife of Metamorpho. Turns out they, and the rest of the Outsiders, are currently in the down below… in the kingdom of Abyssia. Batman, Black Lightning, and Katana are being held captive… while Geo-Force, Halo, and Metamopho are under the control of the Princess (who is one of the most Alan Davis-y looking characters you’re liable to see).
Mousy Emily Briggs is also there… and way out in space, Haley’s Comet is nearly ready to make it’s once-every-seventy-something-years pass of Earth. I remember that being a hyooge deal back when I was in the second grade.
The Princess of Abyssia demands a Priest to “transfigure” Mrs. Briggs… this turns her into Looker!
The with-it Outsiders are taken aback by this. What’s worse, Looker proceeds over to Princess Tamira’s throne, and kneels before her. The Priest announces that Looker is of the same blood as Abyssia’s original ruler, Loron.
Emily is stood before a full-length mirror, where she gets her first look at her new bod. She is captivated, and protests when they go to take the mirror away. Tamira plies her with a goblet full of a concoction she calls “Obedience”. Sounds like the name of one’a those Calvin Klein fragrances.
Our attention now turns to Tamira’s brother, the Zack Morris-esque Prince of Abyssia… who is about to be put to death. When asked if he has any last words, he tells Emily that she is a “Looker”… which, appears to have triggered a post-hypnotic suggestion of sorts. Looker uses her eye beams to roast Princess Tamira!
The rebels rise up, and amid the distraction, Black Lightning attempts to burn off his bindings. Unfortunately, Geo-Force is there to perform a little noggin knocker with Jeff and Batman. The rebels are commanded to kneel… and a few look to the heroes, just waiting for the right time to go back on the offense.
Prince Mardo and Looker make out for a bit, with the former promising to make the latter his queen. He then commands her to, get this… crush Princess Tamira under a stone statue in her own likeness… and she does! The Princess gets smooshed!
Looker’s next order of business… blasting the Outsiders! When Batman and Company come to, they are outside in the snow. Mardo feels it important that they see what’s to come. Looker commands Haley’s Comet to, not pass the Earth… but crash into it!
Ya see, Mardo’s plan… is a pretty smart one! The way he sees it, Haley’s Comet will smash into the Earth, busting through the atmosphere and stirring up a torrent of dust which will block out the Sun. Those not killed by the impact, will die off quickly, as without the Sun, the plants will die, and without plants, there’ll be no more oxygen. The Abyssians will wait out the Earth’s recovery (they are apparently quite long-lived) and take the planet for themselves. So, in his words, Mardo is creating a Nuclear Winter without the radiation! We shift over to an observatory… and the Comet’s shift in trajectory has not gone unnoticed.
Batman turns to the rebels and asks for a hand. At first they’re hesitant, but ultimately come around. Unfortunately, Looker sees it coming and neutralizes the attempt. Batman pleads with her that she’s about to murder billions of people. She only smiles. Katana asks her to try and remember her husband, Greg Briggs. Still smiling, she says “no”.
Mardo takes Looker by the hand, removes her wedding ring from her finger… and crushes it! This is what it takes to shock her back to her senses! She blasts the Prince, and vows to be a pawn no longer!
Prince Mardo threatens to kill the Outsiders, but before he can do much of anything, Emily both frees those captive and brings the rest back to their senses!
A battle rages, and Prince Mardo sidles up to Looker and goes to stab her in the back. Unfortunately for him, Katana is in the same room, and she strikes first!
As the dust settles, Looker releases Haley’s Comet from her control and it returns to its natural trajectory.
The Abyssians all look to, well, Looker for leadership… which she relinquishes. She hands the power over to the people, which I’m sure won’t come back to bite her.
The Outsiders head home. On the flight, Emily calls her husband to let him know she’s okay. He notices that she sounds a little different… but she assures him that she’s fine, and they plan a place to meet. Back in Gotham, Rex and Sapphire are reunited.
We wrap up with Greg Briggs meeting his wife in a suite at the Hotel Lancaster. After initially thinking he’d gotten the wrong room, the Briggs’ start goin’ at it! Merry Christmas, Greg.
Not much of a Christmas issue, but a good one regardless!
I love the inclusion of Haley’s Comet. I’d wager that it was a big deal in my six-year old life for maybe 2-3 days… I honestly can’t even remember if I saw it… or if it was even visible, but in looking back, it feels like I talked about the Comet for months!
Wanna talk about a scene that kinda shocked me. I’m surprised they had Looker actually crush Princess Tamira under the statue! I mean, that feels like a point of no return, doesn’t it? I get that she was under Mardo’s control, but still… seems a bit extreme, though perhaps necessary.
Actually, what shocked me the most about this issue was probably the fact that it involved a race of “underworlders” and it didn’t bore me to tears! These kind of stories very rarely engage me… and I usually just “blur” through em in order to get to the good stuff. This issue actually worked for me though!
I’d say it’s worth a look (no pun intended). We’ve already covered Part 1 of The Truth About Looker here on the blog (over two years ago!)… we’ll eventually get to the middle two chapters. This one is available digitally.