The Untitled are trying to bring Trigon back into the world and it’s up to Jason and the outlaws to stop them. Joined by Essence, General Glory, and Saru the group must figure out a way to keep Trigon from rising again and destroying everything.
This issue attempts to be a big explosive climax as Jason and the others are trying to stop the Untitled, however overall things really lack tension and clear explanations to key plot points, making it hard to get excited about what’s going on. It’s split between Bizzaro’s fight with Trigon and the rest of the Outlaws attempts at stopping Trigon from escaping into the world to cause havoc.
The biggest change in this issue is that the Outlaw team from Lobdell’s previous New 52 Red Hood series shows up. The story opens with a flashback to Jason, Roy, and Starfire as they’re exploring the Chamber of the All. All this flashback really does is set things up so they can show up later with minimal explanations –the chamber supposedly is all times and places. It does take up a couple pages, and while I wasn’t a fan of the previous run, I do hope they have more of a reason for being there in the next issue.
After the flashback the story focuses back in on having the team try to stop the Untitled’s summoning of Trigon. The solution is surprisingly simple, apparently all it takes to stop this grand plan is breaking just one of the obelisks, leaving me to wonder just how big a threat any of this even was. Especially since Artemis managed the task of breaking one easily and without any interference at all from the Untitled, despite their being a cloud of them floating above the ring of Obelisks.
In fact, the Outlaws have things ridiculously easy as they work to save the day. They have so much time and freedom around these obelisks that Jason and Essence actually stand around arguing about what to do before Artemis takes action. The only ‘stumbling block’ the book pits against the team is a group of people from the city the Untitled have supposedly kidnapped to make it harder for the Outlaws to intervene. Only, no one seems to be actively threatening these people, and their existence does nothing to keep Artemis from breaking the obelisk. Their only real purpose seems to be as a reason to give General Glory and Essence something to do for a bit as they’re tasked with returning them to the city.
During all this, Bizzaro is taking on the brunt of the action in his fight with Trigon. I don’t know a lot about Trigon beyond what I saw in Teen Titans as a kid and then in some of DC’s animated movies, but I do know he’s a big bad who typically is a villain a whole team would go up against. Here, Bizzaro has what I’d call a pretty easy time fighting him. So much so that he freezes and destroys one of Trigon’s hands and shocks some minions so badly they actually ask “Is this the end of Trigon”. Again it’s all just too easy.
I have a problem with everything being handed to the Outlaws because, while some of the scenes look cool, there is absolutely no tension. I’m not worried at all about anyone making it out alive or the team failing because everything they do in the first two thirds of the book results in victory. It’s similar to the last issue where characters had all the time in the world to stand around chatting. How am I supposed to take the threat of Trigon escaping into the world seriously when Bizzaro is single handedly dealing with him, and the villains this whole run has hyped up are nowhere to be seen?
Something else that really doesn’t work for me this issue is the setting being the Chamber of the All. Pantalena’s paneling does work to add some motion and action to the story, but it’s hard to really place characters when there are almost no backgrounds at all. Moreso here than in the last issue there are no distinguishing landmarks or much of anything beyond fog to focus on behind the characters. It gives the book a feeling of being out of place, which might have been the intent. However I feel like it backfired because there’s no way to really tell how much progress the group makes or where they are or have moved to in the Chamber. While I didn’t have too much of a problem with it last issue, it becomes an issue here because the story takes place almost exclusively in the Chamber, so it’s important to try and keep track of the characters.
What the art does do well, is provide readers with a number of really nice individual and action shots of characters that put them on display. The plus of a lack of background is that we can really focus on the scene where Artemis demolishes the obelisk or when Bizzaro shatters Trigon’s hand. It’s a great way to really make each of the characters shine.
The last third of the book is focused on closing all entrances to the Chamber in order to make sure Trigon can’t escape. When the characters had discussed closing the chamber I’d pictured them blowing something up and it folding in on itself with a mad dash to escape tied in. That’s not quite what happens here. Instead after a Bizzaro interlude we see Jason and Artemis attempting to push a door closed, with the implication that this door is the very last one they need to deal with in order to trap Trigon forever. There’s not really an explanation of if they closed any other door, or why it’s this one or how closing a door would close the whole chamber and it leaves me wondering all those questions and more, which is a problem since it could have easily been answered by someone saying “Oh this is the master door” or something.
Like dominoes falling, this brings me to another place the story loses me, which is Bizzaro’s supposed sacrifice. As Jason and Artemis are attempting to close the door they see Bizzaro fighting Trigon behind it. So far the story has painted Bizzaro’s fight as one he’s doing really well in. It’s done nothing to tell me that he’d be sacrificing himself, or again really give me answers about how these doors work. And while I don’t want him trapped, as a reader I have not really seen any stakes in this story up until now and if this is supposed to be emotional or something I should have been concerned about, it should have been addressed earlier.
At least this scene provides some conflict, not only emotionally with Bizzaro, but physical as well. The Untitled finally show back up to try and stop them from closing the door. However, once again, any tension this stumbling block could have created is snapped as the N52 Outlaws show up to help! Jason’s just barely saying “last stand” when arrows come flying in to save the day.
It is Bizzaro the story ends on, and again the actions he takes leave me wondering what the actual point of any of this was, because once again Bizzaro feels far too powerful to do what he ends up doing.
Which is tearing out Trigon’s heart! I’m sure I was supposed to cheer at this, but instead I found myself very confused. Bizzaro is in no way that powerful, I don’t care where they are. Doing this also totally negates the whole story up until this point. If Bizzaro was so strong he could do this, why bother closing doors or trying to stop the Untitled? Just let him take down Trigon. It makes no sense.
Through this whole issue everything was far too easy for the characters, and even though the end is shocking it just feels like it comes from left field. While I’m sure I’m meant to be excited about what will happen next, I’m frustrated, confused, and really hoping for answers.
- While Bizzaro might be OP during his fight with Trigon, it is cool
- There is a meeting of the new and old outlaws
- You don’t mind stories going easy on the characters for a bit
The issue as a whole is in desperate need of some tension. Everything comes far too easy for the Outlaws despite this situation supposedly being one where the fate of the world is at stake. Almost nowhere in the issue do I feel like the characters are in real danger, and the few moments I do are either unearned or quickly resolved. While the story does progress, the events are sometimes lack clarity. There are cool moments and scenes, but without tension to strengthen those scenes the issue generally falls flat.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.