Outsiders #34-50, Annual 1

The idea after Infinite Crisis finished was to jump every DC title one year ahead in its respective timeline. The missing year would be filled in by a weekly series named 52 (which was really well done and deserves a reread), and that missing year would feature the DCU without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, who had gone off to find themselves in various ways at the end of Infinite Crisis. Across those three main titles, the “One Year Later” stories were of the “blockbuster season premiere” variety with new creative teams and new directions. Other titles, such as The Flash, followed suit while some–Green Lantern, for instance–jumped a year but acted like very little of consequence really happened during that 52-week gap (or maybe I’m misremembering. It’s been a while).

But what about titles like Teen Titans and Outsiders? At least one of them–Teen Titans–had to deal with the immediate fallout of the death of one of its core members. And the other … well, did it need to jump a year ahead?

I’ll tackle Teen Titans in my next post and focus on the Outsiders right now, as these are the last issues of the series, which doesn’t really know what to do with itself after Infinite Crisis, especially since its role as a companion book to Teen Titans pretty much goes away. In fact, the two books diverge completely, with the group actually teaming up with Checkmate in its final issues for a multi-issue crossover called “Checkout”.

Before we get to that, however, we have the team doing covert ops in Africa when issue #34 opens and it seems that at one point during the past year, they have faked their deaths (except for Nightwing, who is member of a higher profile) and have been operating in the shadows to take down villains and even entire governments. And Metamorpho–not Shift–is on the team now as is Katana.

The undercover thing doesn’t last very long, as a pretty disastrous mission means that they’re exposed for being alive, and much of this year and a half worth of issues is the team trying to complete missions while also dealing with the fallout of several underhanded acts they seem to have committed, including Shift killing a number of people at Iron Heights prison (which we see in the annual and which explains why he’s no longer on the team). When we get to the Checkout crossover, it’s the team being more or less forced into working with Checkmate before ultimately dissolving and Batman stepping in to form another version of Batman and The Outsiders.

That’s the gist of it because as entertaining as these stories were when I was reading them, none of them really stuck with me. The whole “dead outsiders running undercover missions” was too reminiscent of the post Fall of the Mutants X-Men and that’s one of my least favorite eras of that particular book. They were leaning into more action-adventure than superhero with the book, but it didn’t fully work because it wasn’t as tightly written as the 1980s Suicide Squad or Greg Rucka’s Checkmate. In fact, I think that what DC might have been trying to do with it was re-create that spy/adventure corner of the DCU like they had in the late 1980s but it didn’t fully click. Or maybe it’s just me who was wondering what this all had to do with the Titans.

I collected the title through to the end but it was definitely lower on my list than Teen Titans, and I think that around this time Green Lantern was near the top because of the start of the Sinestro Corps War. I was also stupid enough to buy every issue of Countdown to Final Crisis. So I didn’t pick up Batman and the Outsiders, and as we would see, my love of the other book (and comics altogether) would start to wane.

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