Friday, 17 May 2013

DC 1st Issue Special #10 - the Outsiders

1st Issue Special #10, the OutsidersPrez! We all read it! We all loved it!

Or possibly not.

But some of us have a certain fondness for its foibles and strangenesses.

Happily, it wasn't the only such madness that Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti gave us in the 1970s, because they also gave us a 1st Issue Special featuring the team the world didn't know as The Outsiders.

It didn't know them as that because it didn't know they existed at all.

The Outsiders are a group of mutants who hide away from mankind, beneath the hospital where one of them (Dr Goodie/Scary) works disguised as a normal human being. Amongst them are Lizard Johnny, Mighty Mary, Hairy Larry and, erm, Billy. And it'd be true to say they're a team like no other.

DC 1st Issue Special, The Outsiders, meet the gang
To be honest, until I stumbled across this comic by accident, I'd totally forgotten I'd ever had it, which is odd as, with its unlikely cast and "unique" approach to story-telling, it's a virtually impossible strip to forget.

Also, I've always remembered the full-page editorial that appears towards the end of the book and  tells the story of Tod Browning's movie Freaks.

Oddly, while I'd always had strong memories of reading that editorial, it'd never occurred to me to wonder just where I'd read it.

So, how does The Outsiders compare to Prez?

DC 1st Issue Special, The Outsiders
That's right. They have their own song!
Well, it's sort of Prez with the dial turned up to eleven. Like that, it basically defies critical analysis. The issue doesn't even try to tell a story, serving only as a way of introducing several of its characters through flashbacks aimed at the reader by the fourth-wall breaking characters.

I assume DC's 1st Issue Special was its equivalent of a book like Marvel Spotlight where characters could be tried out to see how they'd go down with the readership.

Presumably The Outsiders went down like Engelbert Humperdinck at Eurovision, as, to my knowledge, they were never seen again, which possibly isn't a shock.

At this point in his career, either Joe Simon had risen to the status of genius, totally redefining comics in particular and storytelling in general, or he'd gone completely mad.

DC 1st Issue Special, The Outsiders, Billy under siege
I'm not sure which was the case, but there is a strange emotional punch at times to the strip, especially the scenes of the huge-headed child Billy blundering out of his home, on fire, uncomprehending as a mob tries to kill him. Like the rest of the mag, the scene manages to be both ludicrous and oddly touching at the same time.


Dougie said...

I remember buying this comic and the huge sense of baffled disappointment of reading it. It's like the X-Men if the Kroffts made it a tv show.

But you're absolutely right about the pathos of the imagery and that's why the essay on Freaks was so apposite.

Steve W. said...

I do sort of wish it had been given its own series. I find I feel a strange affection for it.

Then again, I feel a strange affection for Prez, so there might be something wrong with me.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the only First Issue Special character to go on to an ongoing series was Warlord.

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