Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas With The Caped Crusader: Batman and the Outsiders #19

Behind this wonderful Jim Aparo cover, one of the best in the entire run of Batman and the Outsiders, lies that series' second annual Christmas tale, "Who's Afraid of the Big Red 'S'?", guest-starring, as if it weren't obvious, Superman. 

As I've read through my collection of Batman holiday stories, I'm struck by how many of them involve attempted suicide, from "Silent Night of the Batman" to "Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas" in Batman  #309 to the tale under consideration on this Christmas Eve. I suppose it's because its an easy way to deliver a life affirming message for the holiday season by having the suicidal person discover a new reason to go on living.
In BATO #19, it is Denise Howard, a friend of Brion Markov, a.k.a. the Outsider Geo-Force, who decides to end her life after one of her professors denies her a scholarship because she declined his sexual advances.  After taking the pills, she calls Brion, who, as Geo-Force, gets her to a hospital then goes to get vengeance on Dean Raeburn, the professor who caused her despair. 
Another one of the Outsiders, Halo, was with him during the rescue, and after he flies off to find Raeburn, she flies to get help from the Batman. Batman, realizing that none of the Outsiders are strong enough to stop their most powerful member, calls in Superman.  This was before John Byrne's revamp of Superman in The Man of Steel when he and Batman were still friends.  I'm glad that over the years since their friendship has re-emerged and they even once again share a monthly title.
Supes catches up with Brion just as he's about to crush Raeburn's head and the two fight. This isn't as lopsided a match as you might think. Geo-Force uses his power to increase gravity to make the gravity around Superman equal to that of Krypton, thus taking away most of his super-strength.  Still, despite Geo-Force getting a few good licks in, Superman eventually prevails.
Then Batman shows up. While Superman and Geo-Force went at it, he'd been gathering affidavits from other women Raeburn had harrassed to use as evidence against him.  He might, after all, be able to dismiss one such claim as just Denise's word against his, but not a whole folder full.
The story ends on Christmas morning, with Brion at Denise's bedside in the hospital as she decides to give the whole living thing another shot.
This story, by the way, is a favorite of my sister Ann. Seems she doesn't really like Superman, and enjoyed seeing Geo-Force kick him around for a couple of panels.

1 comment:

  1. I gotta admit, being a fan of the Outsiders, and Geo-Force in particular, it was a thrill to see him make Superman eat crow, if only for a page or so. Although I'm a little surprised you went with this one as part of your "Christmas with the Caped Crusader" series, since the story is primarily about Geo-Force. It does, however, reinforce the fact that Mike Barr does indeed love Christmas stories.