Outsiders In: Adventures in Trespassing

Batman and the Outsiders Annual #1 - Pages 7-11
July 3rd 1984, 376th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's founding of the City of Quebec (well, what, it's not ALL about the U.S. of A.) and no, Batman did not reveal on-panel what he wanted the Outsiders to do. So let's catch up to them in the beautiful Virginian countryside, making vacation plans.
Oh Virginia! Lush estates, so green, so quaint, so WELCOMING! At least one member of the team doesn't want to be there (this is a mistake, ALL OF THEM should want out).
Halo's "sort of" first date (if I were her dad, I'd be very worried at this expression) is Saturday. This is TUESDAY. Now, I don't purport to know exactly where Gotham City is, and I see it's been a car ride in a cheap sedan (would the team not be less conspicuous driving through these estates in luxury though?), but that's four days away. Not that there's any evidence that Halo's learned her days of the week. But sheesh. The mission hasn't even started yet and there are DAYS TO SPARE. Okay, how about some exposition to get us up to speed (on the mission, not on the date's details, thanks).
So the estate belongs to Eric Blairman, director of the fake NSA, the ASA, and wouldn't you know it, his kid sister is one of the few computer experts who could make use of STAR Labs' stolen circuit. What happens if it isn't her and it's another computer expert? Halo won't make that date on Saturday! So let's hope first try's the charm and that there's nothing stopping our dastardly heroes. Like say, a wall.
"Mr. Wayne"? They know Wayne and the Batman are one and the same at this point, so is there a reason they don't want to drop the B-word? If anyone's listening, they'll wonder what Bruce Wayne's connection to all this is, and then to the Outsiders when they change into costume. But let's not go crazy here. It's not like the Outsiders have a plan. Or else why would Black Lightning have to explain the plan after a long, boring, silent(?) car ride?
Wait... can Black Lightning do this? Nope, Who's Who has nothing to say on the subject. Can he listen to the radio through his fillings as well? Something else that happens when you don't have a plan? Nobody assigned as look-out.
Yeah, a heterogenous group of people standing in front of a wall surrounding a rich estate. Nothing suspicious about that. No problem though. Show him your psychic paper, Jeff.
Army guy assigned to ultra-conservative director of a national security agency finds a black man from Cleveland looking at his boss' beautiful estate from behind an easily climbable wall, bordering a dirt road, and BUYS HIS STORY. That is a surprising turn of events, and I don't mean to be cynical, but that's not the Reagan's America *I* grew up with. What the hell kind of fake i.d. did Batman give him?!
I mean, what would have happened if he'd shown a "Jefferson Pierce" i.d.? Not much difference. I guess they wouldn't want anyone to know they were from Gotham. So much for Plan A, now for Plan B.
Wait. Why wasn't Plan B actually Plan A? Park the car before you reach the estate, Rex turns into a gas, and recons the place invisibly. Easy. In fact, why does a powerhouse like Metamorpho need the rest of the Outsiders at all? And please, somebody tell Halo hydrogen has no smell. I don't know why she's making a frowny face there. Cut to: Inside of the mansion.
That's Eric Blairman watching MSNBC on 1984's idea of a big-screen TV. Of course, this BEING 1984, all channels are liberal-biased. There's no Fox News to reportertain him with opinews yet. But if he gets his way...
Wow, they didn't make circuits as small as they are today back then. Or glasses, for that matter. Hey, someone's at the door...
...or at the TABLE! Gosh, that's a weird and inconvenient way to communicate. What's the soldier looking at? The chandelier? So okay, soldier boy called Blairman after (nor during) his intervention with the "tourists", but the estate at least goes to Security A. What does that mean for Recon Rex?
He's an invisible gas, so he's fine, right? And hungry, apparently. Just makes me wonder how his powers work. Should a non-biological man like him need to eat? Why are you writing him like he's a normal person, Mr. Barr? You just had him say he was un-normal! Just like his grasp on the English language! But then, Rex himself doesn't really understand his powers, or else he might gave become a far less flammable gas!
Why, oh, why would Metamorpho choose hydrogen, which is explosive rather than the far safer helium or even oxygen? How about nitrogen, for that matter? Water vapor? Or the normal air mixture we all breathe?! That would have been far less detectable (Security A apparently can spot an anomalous cloud of gas) and not been so unstable as to harm him! Is "reforming" the only option now? Why not turn into one of those other gases and remain hidden? But no, that would be a smart strategy. And in any case, the other idiots are about to show up in costume.
By Geo-Force's crown! What's just over that low-security wall? Could it be the Force of July come a day early?
So Metamorpho's already down and Major Victory's making a speech that makes him sound insane and at very very misinformed. Like I said, Fox News doesn't even exist yet! To him, the Outsiders are subversives and subversives are 1) not generally loyal to one another, 2) fellow-travelers (no, I have no idea what that means), 3) traitors (obviously), 4) communists (even Geo-Force is a monarchist, dude, and that girl's obviously Japanese, not Chinese) and 5) not very well known despite having spent the last year fighting crime openly in Gotham City. You can't get all your information from slideshows, guys! Or maybe you can. It's quite possible the Outsiders never made the headlines and were instead buried on page 12 or something, given their track record.

They fight! Place your bets! (But if you know your Outsiders, you already know who wins the initial fight.)


snell said...

"A fellow traveller (UK English) or fellow traveler (US English) is a person who sympathizes with the beliefs of an organization or cooperates in its activities without maintaining formal membership in that particular group. In the early Soviet Union the approximate term was used without negative connotation to describe writers and artists sympathetic to the goals of the Russian Revolution who declined to join the Communist Party.[citation needed] The English-language phrase came into vogue in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s as a pejorative term for a sympathizer of Communism or particular Communist states, who was nonetheless not a "card-carrying member" of a Communist party."--Wikipedia

Siskoid said...

Ahhh. What an archaic turn of phrase. I sure hope Major Victory was thawed out of a block of ice after falling into arctic waters in the 50s, or else I call shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

As a Clevelander, I can tell you there's nothing we love more than congregating around the walls of estates. You'd have to live here to understand. (Evidently that police officer was a Cleveland native.)

snell said...

It wasn't as archaic in 1984, at least among the more right-wing crowd. And if we were to give Barr credit for any subtlety (I know, not), you could argue that the archaism of the phrase was part of a deliberate critique of the National Review crowd. Probably not, though.

Siskoid said...

You're probably right though. After all, Barr did do (or use) some research in this one. It's full of quotes, makes use of Orwell's 1984, etc.

I just wonder if it's appropriate to his target audience. What kid in 1984 (and really, if you were an adult and reading the Outsiders back then, why were you wasting your time?) could have understood the reference? I just wish Barr had done as much research on science or, I dunno, team tactics.

American Hawkman said...

I'd also point out that Black Lightning SHOULD be mildly famous in his civilian identity as an Olympic Gold Medal winner, which is why he needed a fake ID here. He's pretty much the only Outsider that WOULD show up on someone's radar that way, but this actually made some version of sense.

Siskoid said...

That scans. You never know when you'll come upon a decathlon fan.

I wonder. Is Jefferson as well-known as, say, Michael Phelps?

American Hawkman said...

He pretty much has to be... You don't get approved for a cabinet level position like he did without someone having a reason to know you exist, and "public school teacher" doesn't do it. Sliding timeline means he'd have been a fairly recent winner at this point too. You have to figure there's Wheaties boxes somewhere with his name and face.

Siskoid said...

Which makes sense out of his extra-careful superhero disguise with the fro-helmet.

Senor Editor said...

Black Lightning looks like he's peeing out of his finger tips in that one panel. I don't know much about Doctor Who or RPGs, but I love all the comics content here, Siskoid, and these Outsiders posts are always a blast to read!

Siskoid said...

Hopefully I haven't skimped too much on the comics content lately. In the 50th Anniversary fervor, I was afraid I might have.


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