The best of this so meager series, although it was the best due to plot devices that fail to come across as really believable--the implication from the final pages of this issue, something hinted at earlier on in the terrible Cap'n Boomerang issue, is made clear that Batman is building some kind of strike force that, in his words, will be "utterly ruthless." You, me and any five year old knows that no matter how "ruthless" Batman gets, he'll never actually endorse murder--and it's not like there is any other line to cross. Due to the last few years of Batman's "character development," his non-murder, non-over the top retribution status has been made canonical to the character. (To the dismay of people who like those 1939 issues where he carried a gun and kicked guys into acid vats.) To what is Bruce referring? What "hell" is it he plans to put these people through? In a previous issue, he told Nightwing that he "appreciated" what the team had become--and for the most part, so had this reader. After all, the Outsiders had hit some snags, and due to some lapses in judgment and some terrible luck, they'd killed some people--convicted murderers, but people nonetheless. Batman's interest in the team, due to it's place in the timeline of the story, seems to stem exactly from this period--the point at which the Outsiders moved from a by-the-numbers super-team to a group labeled, justly, as terrorists. That status, for reasons yet to be explained, is what attracted Batman to the group. As it reads, with it's implication of a continuing story similar to the 80's Suicide Squad, it's excellent stuff. As it reads, as a comic that is clearly based on a lie, a story that will never come to fruition, it's a shit joke.
The last issue of the Flash that this reader purchased was somewhere around issue #70--it was also written by Mark Waid. Most comics readers will tell you it's nice to see a comic still be the same 200 issues later.
This little private fiefdom of judgment disagrees. Flash #231 looks nice, it's readable, it makes sense. It's also completely unnecessary, and unlike it's contemporaries (unnecessary readable comics that look nice, like the Ultimate X-Men series,) this reader doesn't have any investment, financial or personal interest, in the series.
In other words--we'll try again around #400.
Gorgeous cover, excellent interior art. Another terrible story, which seems to be the motif for Wolverine lately. God hopes no one who enjoys the X-Men films ever makes the mistake of purchasing one of these things--it would be like reading Gravity's Rainbow because you enjoyed Thomas Pynchon when he showed up on the Simpsons with a bag over his head.
There's also a needless back-up feature reprinting an old Jim Lee X-Men issue, and a sneak preview of Marvel's attempt to repair the damage done by the hideous last six months by Jeph Loeb on this books sister title, Wolverine. Unlikely--excepting Mark Millar's fun version of Wolverine versus everybody, this comic has shattered the promise that the earlier issues by Greg Rucka seemed to promise. Wolverine Origins has never been that good, merely a regular opportunity to keep up with Steve Dillon--an artist who's art stands head and shoulders above the meager stories they tell. In that vein, it's never a disappointment.
Impossible to recommend to a non-reader, yet strangely compelling. 19 issues into this series, and it's still relatively mysterious. The closest thing to Cormac McCarthy or Toni Morrison of, in all honesty, any comic book that's ever been published. Subtle, unpredictable, cruel and at times impenetrable, Azzarello's much-reviled Western series seems to be drawing to a close--but it wouldn't be that surprising if it decided to focus on an unknown side-character for another two years.
Checkmate refuses to sit down and die, even as it's sales dwindle lower and lower--it's become the Exterminators of the DC mainstream line, a consistently great read that people actively buy less and less of, so they can make more room for toys or pocket pussies. Oh well--great art, well told story, obviously you don't care. Hopefully it won't turn Rucka off from working at DC. That would be a shame.
It's tempting to extrapolate a criticism of regular comics buyers and the resulting low quality of comic books--after all, if anybodies to blame beyond the people who publish and create these things, it's consumers (like this one) who send good money after bad, instead of leaving the damn thing at the store. In the end though, comics are a tiny market, and it's always going to be that way. More people are going to watch Pirates of the Caribbean movies than are going to watch Renoir's La Bete Humaine--that's just the way things go. Comics are just a infinitely smaller portion of that same group--the group that wants to wrap their lips around Johnny Depp's shaft.
In other words, of course more people buy confusing ass Spider-Man comic books than buy 100 Bullets. They're idiots.