Outsiders #7

Written by Judd Winick
Penciled by Tom Raney
Inked by Scott Hanna
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

Sometimes all it takes is a snazzy cover. It’s what got me to buy the most recent issue of Outsiders, after all. I’d heard a lot about the new hit series from DC Comics, and it was certainly on my radar as something I should take a look at. But while I was browsing the racks, there was something about Tom Raney and Scott Hanna’s illustration on the front of Outsiders #7 that begged me to take a closer look. Maybe it was the character on the front page melting, maybe it was is catatonic pose, but whatever it was… it worked.

One of the members of the Outsiders is having a bit of an identity crisis. Up until this point in time, he’d thought that he was Rex Mason, aka Metamorpho, with the power to manipulate the elements of his body. There’s only one problem. It seems that the real Rex Mason has just shown up. And if Rex Mason isn’t a member of the Outsiders… who is the team member that thought he was?

At the heart of Judd Winick’s story is a question that is being asked more and more in today’s society as science advances: at what point is something its own life form? It’s a pretty heady question, and one that certainly can’t be answered in a 32-page comic book. The end result is that Winick’s got to simplify the philosophical debate a bit and boil it down to its bare elements. Does it work? I think so. Most of the cast gets short shrift here, and I’m glad that they do—this is ultimately the two Rexes’s story, and that’s how it’s presented. The ending felt a little rushed, although Winick neatly sidesteps that by having it hinge a lot on the internal emotions of one of the Rex Masons. I would’ve rather seen two more pages of that internal debate on how to handle the situation than a somewhat serious, somewhat jokey talk between the characters at the end, but it still holds together well enough.

What really blew me away, though, was Raney and Hanna’s art. The visual difference between the original and the new Rex was fantastic; the first is perfectly composed and smooth for someone whose codename is Metamorpho, after all. The new one, on the other hand, has muted, mottled colorings and his body is literally going to pieces. Seeing his self-doubt and terror reflected in his physical appearance is a natural part of this story, but Raney and Hanna go above and beyond the call of duty here to bring that to the reader. From the melting of his skin to the Cthulhu-esque collapse into waves of tentacles and pseudopods, it’s a fantastic way to bring Winick’s script to life. They and colorist Gina Going are clearly having a lot of fun on this book.

This was my first issue of Outsiders, and I certainly feel like I got my money’s worth. It’s also part of the new Outsiders: Looking For Trouble collection, so hopefully that means it’s about to get introduced to a whole new group of readers. If every issue of Outsiders is as entertaining as this one, I’ll have to stop by a little more often. It’s nice to see that the buzz around a book is because it’s just good old-fashioned fun.

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