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Thursday, 6 July 2017

1st Issue Special 10 - the Outsiders debut

While the Outsiders do make their debut in 1st Issue Special 10 (Jan. 76), this is not the version of the group that Batman would lead. Not even close. Though it had not occurred to me until today, this incarnation of the Outsiders is a lot more like a reboot of the Doom Patrol than anything else. 

The story, by Joe Simon, Jerry Grandenetti and Craig Flessel, begins with the action, as Doc Goodie summons the weirdly shaped members of the Outsiders and rushes them to the spot where a mob are attacking another strange creature. They travel by ambulance from their base in a hospital. Essentially, Doc Goodie is their doctor (much like the Chief operated on, or provided medical care, for the members of the Doom Patrol), and he keeps his patients hidden from a world that is repulsed by them, only bringing them out to perform life threatening deeds.

The story then jumps back, and we get introductions for three members of the team. Lizard Johnny is a half human/half lizard that was rescued by Dog Goodie from a scientist who intended to chop it into bits to examine it.

Billy seems to be the member of the team being rescued at the start of the story, although he will later be shown to be one of those heading out to help in the rescue. Probably an error. His introductory sequence here shows how he was raised in a basement by his father. Hoods came to rob the store his father ran, killed the man and discovered Billy. They were so repulsed by his giant head that they set fire to the store to try to kill him.

Then we learn that Doc Goodie, aside from being a doctor, also served as an astronaut. His spacecraft crashed on Venus, but aliens operated on him, turning him into a part cyborg, but also deforming his face to make him look like them. The space flight gone wrong echoes Negative Man's origin, while the part about being part cyborg evokes the Chief's reliance on his action wheelchair.

Doc Goodie wears a mask when working as a doctor at a fancy new hospital, while deep in the basement he keeps his patients, his team, hidden from everyone.

There is something really disturbing about this version of the Outsiders that has nothing to do with their strange appearance. Rather, it's the way a doctor exploits his patients while keeping them virtual prisoners. It's no surprise that this team did not hit the big time. In fact, the only time they are ever seen again is in James Robinson's run on Superman, when they are shown in glass tubes, possibly not even alive, in a secret government installation.

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