Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 08.17.2011 – Flashpoint: The Outsider #3

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378
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Avg Rating: 3.8
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 0.6%
 
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Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by JAVI FERNANDEZ
Cover by KEVIN NOWLAN

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

When Flashpoint was announced, there was a whirlwind of the typical comics fan controversy ranging from curiousity about the event to whining about having to buy all the mini-series etc.  And then the DC Relaunch news hit in June and opinions of Flashpoint faded away for a bit, and then moved towards “Well, this doesn’t matter, so I don’t have to read it.”  And now, here in August, we’re on the precipice of the new world of DC Comics, and many of us are wondering what story elements and characters, if any, will find their way out of Flashpoint and into the new DC Universe? After reading the complete mini-series of Flashpoint: The Outsider, I really do hope this character lives on past this event.

I don’t envy comic book creators when they get tasked with producing an event tie in mini-series. From the start you’ve got an audience that’s partially hostile already simply because the book was announced and they feel like they “have” to buy another title. Then, for the audience that is fine with buying another title, you’re constantly under the gun to provide a meaningful story that makes them feel good about the money they just spent.  It’s a delicate balance and for the most part, Flashpoint hasn’t been on the winning side with most of these crossover mini-series.  There have been some bright spots here and there, but for the most part the changes in artists and fragmentation of stories has worked against them.  The exception though appears to be Flashpoint: The Outsider, which early on, jumped out to us as one of the better books and this week, with its conclusion, it proved to be well worth the 9 dollars the issues cost me.

So just how did James Robinson and Javi Fernandez pull this feat off? How did they take a small 3 issue series from an event and create one of the books that I’ve been raving about all summer? Let me break it down for you…

First off, of all the “new” characters we were introduced to in Flashpoint, for some reason, The Outsider was the most visually curious to me.  The character design of him with his stone-like body, decked out in a fancy white suit immediately piqued my interest.  Many DC loyalists cited the previous incarnation of The Outsider from the Silver Age (It was Batman’s butler, Alfred) speculating that it was just Alfred in an alternate universe.  What Robinson did with this character from the get-go is something that other writers should take note of.  He immediately dealt with the Alfred connection (or lack thereof) in the first issue and got on with his story.  In doing so and over the course of this 3 issue series, we got to know and understand The Outsider.  Who he was, how he came to be and what is motivations are.  My curiosity for the character simply expanded as I moved from just a visual in the main Flashpoint book, to this fleshed out character study by Robinson.

Secondly, they didn’t force Flashpoint and the events within on you as you read this series.  Challenged again with that balancing act of how much dependency on the main event book to take with a one-off mini-series, Robinson was able to find that perfect balance between telling his story of The Outsider, while reminding you of the involvement of Flashpoint.  A combination of flashbacks and events in real time accomplished the task of keeping The Outsider rooted in the event, but building a better picture of the character and what his interactions are with the main event.  Of all the “new” characters in Flashpoint, after these 3 issues, I feel as if I know The Outsider best.  Robinson was able to deviate away from the main event storyline for just the right amount to truly give you a tale that doesn’t require to read anything but this (and probably Flashpoint, for the greater context) and still derive enjoyment.  On top of that, this series then circles back around and makes my enjoyment of Flashpoint, particularly around this character, that much greater.

Finally, the last thing they were able to do was deliver on the comic book itself.  With covers by Kevin Nowlan and interior art by Javi Fernandez on every issue (no fill-in artists or artist changes), you get a sense and a feeling of a complete run.  Sure it was only 3 issues, but they did it.  A complete creative team working in concert to deliver a quality product.  And by quality, I mean super quality. I hadn’t seen any work by Javi Fernandez before this, but trust me, I’ll be keeping a lookout for him as I really did enjoy his art throughout the this series. His handling of the mix between conversations and action matched that balance of story that Robinson delivered with his scripts.  Just the right mix of composition, facial expressions, page layouts and action sequences made nearly every scene in the issue suspenseful, be it 2 characters talking or fighting.  It doesn’t get better than that.

In this specific issue, Robinson and Fernandez wrap up the story with the conflict between The Outsider and the Flashpoint version of Martian Manhunter (who’s quite different than his counterpart in the normal DC Universe). I have to admit, I was afraid that they were going to dupe us and use this series as a way to work the Martian Manhunter into Flashpoint, but they remained true to the series title.  We learn more of the connection to the Martian Manhunter that The Outsider has, and how these characters were on a destiny of conflict, which contains the ties back to the main Flashpoint story in an elegant manner.  And when we get to the end of the issue, I understand exactly what motivates The Outsider to get involved with Cyborg, Batman and The Flash in the main book.

Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are.  But as I look back on this summer, Flashpoint: The Outsider not only stands out as my favorite of the Flashpoint books, but one of my favorites of the summer.  As this issue ends, I hope to see more of the character post-Flashpoint, as well as more from Javi Hernandez and I get further excited for what’s to come from James Robinson at DC. If you ask me, that’s what an event book tie in should do: Entertain, enhance the event, and leave you wanting more from the characters and creators involved.  Flashpoint: The Outsider succeeded on all 3.

Ron Richards
It might be the purple tie
ron@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Interesting pick. I hope my shop still has these 3 issues. I liked the cover of the first issue, but didn’t pick it up. Now I wish I had.

    • Im not realy enjoying flashpoint and I didnt pick this up but I went with daredevil 2 as my pick. Btw im not enjoying this summers events.

  2. I hadn’t picked this up at all, but this review has got me wanting to backtrack and pick them up. My favorite tie-in so far has been the Batman one. I really liked the first issue of Deadman and the Flying Graysons, but by the end that had gotten really meddled. Had great artwork though.

  3. Awesome review. I’m not reading this but damn I want to. Probably wait for the (hopefully, hardcover) Flashpoint collections to read this.

  4. hmm would have never guessed this to be your pick this week…. im not impressed good day sir lol

  5. WOW, I am shocked this was the pick of the week. Is the following score correct for picks of the week :
    Marvel Fear itself / tie – in: 0
    DC Flashpoint / tie in: 2

  6. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???? AWESOME!!!!!

    I’ve loved the previous two Outsider issues and to see this one as POTW has me pumped to get it tomorrow. A Flashpoint tie-in gets POTW. Can’t wait to hear the podcast.

    Great pick Ron!

  7. Just read this, enjoyed it quite a bit… But POTW over Daredevil AND JIM??? Absolute crazy talk. Usually can’t disagree with anyone’s potw but the aforementioned other two titles were simply too good to be denied this week! Read Journey Into Mystery!

  8. I got the first one but wasn’t sold. I’m assuming it picks up in the subsequent issues? I’m willing to wait for the podcast for that answer if you prefer…

  9. Reason I ask is because the review went more in detail about the Flashpoint event then the plot of the book. Just wondering if the book itself increased in quality after issue #1.

  10. Well I guess no one saw this coming. I didn’t read any of the Flashpoint tie-ins, sans Cricket, so I can’t really judge the pick. But I’ll probably read it when the massive flooding of TPB’s for the tie-ins come rolling in.

    My pick was Daredevil #2 because let’s be honest, you’d have to be dead inside not to make it pick….Oh….sorry Ron.

  11. Note to self: “JIM” is an abbreviation for “Journey Into Mystery.” Get used to being confused by that for the forseeable future.

  12. Journey Into Mystery is a fantastic series. It’s a shame that books like Daredevil, or Chew, or Batman INC come out at times when it gets released. Because it could easily be POTW every time an issue comes out.

  13. Good pick, this has been the shining star out of Flashpoint for me, more so than the main series.

  14. I’m a little surprised to see this as PotW but at the same time I have to say it was the book that I was most excited about after reading it this week.

    Daredevil #2 was great too though.

  15. That’s a surprise, and not one I necessarily like. Other than Batman, I feel like every tie-in has been either mediocre or absolutely horrible. Flashpoint is one big let-down.

  16. Ron is definitely the iFanboy with the most out there surprise POW’s. He’s always keeping us on our toes.

  17. I really enjoyed this issue. You’re right, Ron, that this has been a really strong series. Robinson deftly ties this series into Flashpoint without being overbearing. This issue closed the series out strongly. I felt it was a little rushed, but maybe that we me projecting my desire for more of this dude. I don’t think this is my pick (I haven’t finished my books), but it’s definitely a strong pick in my opinion.

  18. I enjoyed this issue and this has been one of the better Flashpoint tie-ins but I wasn’t blown away or anything. Maybe it’s because I saw it was the pick of week first (didn’t read the review at that point) and I was expecting too much. The art is great though. I’ve only read two issues from this week so far so I can’t say what I liked better yet.

  19. I completely agree with Ron,

    @ Ron. I have to thank you for discussing the first issue in the audio podcast when you did. I had totally passed it up when it came out, thinking it would be a total let down. In fact when I went back to my store, they had sold out and I had a friend in another city to get copies of the first two issues for me. I totally enjoyed them and looked forward to the next issue and thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

    Thanks again to getting me to read a book I realy enjoyed butt I would have otherwise passed up. This (and the witty banter) is why I love this site.

  20. Nice review! While I like a good plot recap as much as the next guy, I also really appreciate reviews that give nothing of the story away while still explaining what about the book was worthwhile. Well written, sir.

    My POW was Daredevil #2, because I’m an iconoclast.

  21. I won’t get to read it until this afternoon but I’m still excited about Ron’s pick. I’ve read a lot of the Flashpoint minis and The Outsider has been a highlight. The second issue was fantastic and I can’t wait to read #3.

    Way to broadside us all Ron! I love it!

  22. Can’t wait for Aug 31. I really hope that Flashpoint #5 is over sized and gives a satisfying resolution to this, especially an explanation of what exactly did Reverse Flash do to screw up history so bad? What key events did he change, or did he just go back to prehistoric times and step on a butterfly?

  23. Good review, Ron.

    I enjoyed this. And I’ve been kinda angry at Robinson since he jumped on JLA. But this was the best of these minis, by far. The art suffered though. Big time. Fernandez saved his hand for the action scenes. The rest of the time everyone looked like Kuato.

    Paolo Rivera could be blind, and he’d still be the better artist. Which is part of the reason why DD #2 gets my POTW.

  24. Still haven’t decided on my POTW but I may be with you Ron. As my fellow iFanboys gather their pitchforks and torches, I may be with you! One more book to read though.

  25. i agree that Robinson found a good balance for an event tie-in here: a self-contianed story that still filled-in the larger picture. i thought that Secret Seven, which might be my favorite tie-in, was sucessful for a similar reason. still am curious why Outsider got his own mini. does he play a pivotal role in Flashpoint #5? beyond? did Robinson simply give a great pitch to editorial?

    that said, my pick of the week would probably go to Journey into Mystery — something good had to come out of Fear Itself, after all . . .

  26. Just read this and thought it was pretty bland. I struggle to see what actually made it PotW (interestingly, Ron, you only write one paragraph about this issue). I’ll listen to the podcast and see if you elaborate a bit more. I think that either Daredevil or Venom could have been PotW this week. I thought the take on a corrupted Martian Manhunter was interesting but other than that…

  27. Sounds good, I hope it is in a collection with a few other interesting cross-overs.

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