Before the Outsiders, There Was the Outsiders

DC's Outsiders is one of those names the company keeps putting into print with whatever lame characters happen to be around just so it can keep the trademark (as if anyone would steal it given the stigma associated with the team). But did you know the Outsiders that hung out with Batman WEREN'T DC's original Outsiders? That's right, Mike Barr's early 80s team was just borrowing the name (my thanks to Mkhall for reminding me of this yesterday). And it really is the same trademark. Just look at the logo, it's nearly the same.

For that matter, being lame wasn't a tradition Barr's Outsiders started. It was all right there in the original: 1st Issue Special #10, 1976, by Joe Simon, Jerry Grandenetti and Creig Flessel.
These Outsiders are real freaks who put the X-Men to shame though seem to have the same basic mission - helping freaks like them against conformist mobs. There base of operations is a super-basement under a high-tech medical center where the world's most famous surgeon and handsomest man (AND former astronaut) Dr. Goodie flirts works. Flirting with nurses by day, and leading the Outsiders by night, he becomes Dr. Scary when he takes off his mask. See, on that alien planet, aliens remade his mangled body only in an approximation of humanity. And then there's the Amazin' Ronnie, a four-armed cyclops; the child-like Billy with his huge, indestructible head; Lizard Johnny who regenerates real good; Hairy Larry whose wheels are a part of himself; and the beautiful - at least, from the neck up - Mighty Mary!

Beginning an Outsiders legacy that would last decades, this comic is very badly put together. Only 17 pages of story, and I can't even understand the timeline. Consider: It starts with Doc Scary finding his cohorts in their battle uniforms, and they quickly run off to save (and meet for the first time) Billy. After the battle, Harry says the readers really should be told who they all are (4th wall, irremediably broken). Pages 6-7, Johnny's origin, but just before something happens with the lizard in his arms, we cut to another story and never return to him. 8-11, two guys find Billy in the attic and attack him, precursor to the action scene up front. 12-14, Doc Scary's origin. 15-17, Doc Goodie/Scary finishes his shift and goes down to the basement, and the last panel of the book is its first, for we've come full circle. Except Billy is in the previous panel (above). But he's yet to join.

Whatever. Their only other appearance was in Superman #692 (2009) as prisoners of Department 7734 (get your upside-down calculator for that one), but only because James Robinson is the king of the Outsiders Principle.
Oh, and the issue is accompanied by a text piece by Allan Asherman that reminds us to treat FREAKS like everybody else, because FREAKS (midgets and dwarves are the only specific people mentioned) are only different on the outside. But we can still call them FREAKS, right? That's an acceptable term?

The Outsiders - They sucked even earlier than you thought


Lazarus Lupin said...

I remember reading that version of the "Outsiders" from a box of comic book rejects at a yardsale. I was not impressed then, though it would have been amusing to have an outsider/outsider team up.

Lazarus Lupin

Randal said...

Oh my god...why is that familiar to me?!? Another blog must have covered that because I sure as hell never read it. But I know I've seen the Doc Scary thing before!

Siskoid said...

It's been haunting your NIGHTMARES!!!

Carl Walker said...

Wow, not to state the obvious but Robinson REALLY loves First Issue Special doesn't he? The only reason I even know of this title is from looking up in Wikipedia all the characters he keeps bringing back. Of course, the announcement of Earth 2 makes me wonder if not just the Golden Agers, but also all those random characters he's disinterred, all live on Earth-2 now. Earth-Robinson?

Siskoid said...

Codename Assassin, Atlas... yeah. I've been waiting for the Green Team for a while now.


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