Review: Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders, by Geoff Johns & Judd Winick

(Originally posted on Amazon 1/21/2006)

the insiders

After hitting a high point with the “Lights Out” storyline, the Geoff Johns incarnation of the Teen Titans sort of takes a stumble with the next story arc, a crossover with Judd Winick’s The Outsiders called simply, “The Insiders”, and written as a collaboration between Johns & Winick.

The story is okay, but nothing more. One member of each team (the Titans and the Outsiders) is seemingly possessed, goes berserk, and attacks their erstwhile friends. Both groups then go and team-up to try and find out what the heck is going on, and to bring their “traitors” back in. The trail leads them back to the scene of a previous tragedy, and a showdown that is both gut wrenching and tragic at the same time. And lays further clues and seeds for the Infinite Crisis, soon to rage across the DCU.

The problem with this story is that, in many ways, there really isn’t one. Rather, the whole thing is one long, extended fight scene that keeps moving to different locales. Kind of like those fighting video games where each round takes place in a different stadium. Yes, there is some explanation of what is going on and why the two team members have “betrayed” everyone; it doesn’t quite make sense, and one gets the feeling that there’s still something more to it that we’re not getting. Johns & Winick do have a go at making it all sound reasonable, but quite frankly, this time it comes out as something of a mess.

Clearly, this story was planned from the beginning of both runs of The Outsiders and the Teen Titans, because the seeds for this showdown were laid practically at the very beginning of each series. But with that much lead time, you’d think they’d have come up with something more substantial than this.

This TPB also reprints two other issues, one from Teen Titans, the other from The Outsiders. Although not part of The Insiders arc proper, both work as nice codas to the story. I particularly enjoyed the Teen Titans one, which has Raven helping a fellow Titan sort out recent events.

Thankfully, the art of The Insiders is top notch. Matthew Clark does half the issues here (two Teen Titans and one The Outsiders), Carlos D’Anda does two issues (both for The Outsiders), and the aforementioned Teen Titans coda story was penciled by Tony Daniel. Interestingly, this volume contains the first issues by the two current principal artists of Teen Titans and The Outsiders – Tony Daniel (principal artist for Teen Titans) and Matthew Clark (principal artist for The Outsiders) both have their debut issues for their respective titles collected in this volume.

Bottom line: It’s readable, but not great. Compared to what came before and what’s come since, in both titles, this story arc was something of a disappointment. And this is coming from someone who otherwise likes Winick’s Outsiders and LOVES Johns’ Titans. Still, it is somewhat necessary to understand some of the things going on in later storylines, both in the two titles and in Infinite Crisis. I just wish the story lived up to the two years of build up it was given.

3 Stars out of 5 Stars