By Peter J. Tomasi (writer), Fernando Pasarin & Jeremy Haun (artist), Prentis Rollins & Wayne Faucher & Jeremy Haun (inker)

The Story: A mysterious group of near-immortal acolytes starts the book off by pulling together enough pieces of an ancient immortality-granting meteorite to be able to gather the remaining pieces and thereby renew themselves. Switch then to the Outsiders trying to take down Deathstroke. This takes a lot of the book to resolve, but the fight takes an effective break to see Vandal Savage as he closes in on the acolytes.

What’s Good: There’s a lot of tension in this book: scheming immortals, a relentless Vandal Savage, a major fight scene and competing factions. It’s fast-paced and constantly building.

The large art team delivers visuals that really drive the book along. The attractor machine plowing energy into molten earth was awesome, as were explosions and light effects throughout the book. And the walk of Vandal Savage, through desert, seashore, forest and snow-capped mountains showed a tireless, approaching menace. The level of detail in the people, especially in the faces (hair and teeth) was also great, even though I found some expressions and poses slightly awkward, in a Paul Gulacy sort of way. The colors suit the scenes perfectly and on many pages, panels had different, but logical color dominances and the effect on the page as a whole made it a delight for the eyes.

What’s Not So Good: Although the readers haven’t been let into the nature of the approaching menace, I’m ready to wait another issue for it. On the flip side, I think there are some serious problems around the credibility of the story in the writing.

Firstly, the acolytes especially are guilty of a lot of talking-head exposition, which is telling each other things that they already know, for the sole purpose of letting the reader know something. There are lots of ways to do exposition. A text box may seem old-fashioned, but it is still a useful tool and would have made the characters more believable by (a) giving them less dialogue and (b) making the dialogue more natural.

Secondly, nobody in the DC universe seems to understand teamwork. Deathstroke is holding a blade to Alfred’s neck. Fine. Five Outsiders (three of whom shoot some type of energy blast) stand still. Katana comes from behind. The hostage is out of the way. Do the other Outsiders help Katana? No. What about when Deathstroke runs for the bodies? No, although Geo-Force does tell Rex to get the body out of the way. It would have been faster to tell Rex to get Deathstroke. It also would have been faster for any of them to have blasted Deathstroke in the back, since he was right there with his back turned. The whole Deathtrap story in the Titans was full of ineffective superheroing like this, and I’m worried that I’m seeing more of the same in the Outsiders.

Lastly, some of the action makes me wonder about the age of the target audience of this book. On one hand, you’ve got Deathstroke cleaving a corpse in half, but at the same time, the whimsical, blasé way it was done really cheapens the effect and stains credibility (think B-movie Hollywood barbarians).

Conclusion: There’s great art here, but some pretty flawed story-telling that gets in the way of the story.

Grade: C-

-DS Arsenault