Each Friday, we'll be letting a different DC.com writer share what they'll be reading over the weekend and why you might want to check it out. Here's this week's suggestion for a perfect Weekend Escape!
I'll be completely honest. For as much as I love a good team book, there's nothing I love more than a good team roster shake-up, especially when that team suddenly gains a member who may or may not completely jive with that team's already established vibe. This is exactly what happened all the way back in the early '00s when Freddy Freeman wound up briefly joining the infamously edgy Outsiders—and wouldn't you know it, Freddy's also starring in a brand new movie so it's a perfect time to revisit one of his best stories!
While Freddy was an on-again-off-again guest star in Outsiders Vol. 3, starting at issue #10, we're going to focus on his biggest arc with the team, issues #29-33, AKA Outsiders: Crisis Intervention!
This one is a bit more continuity dense than a normal Weekend Escape, but it's worth it, I promise. Outsiders #29-30 is actually a crossover story with the major event of the time: Infinite Crisis. Unsurprisingly, as a Crisis-level cosmic event, Infinite Crisis had a ripple effect through just about all of the DC Universe in the early '00s, and just so happened to give some major Shazam Family villains big opportunities with things like magic and science all going haywire. I won't get too in the weeds with Infinite Crisis backstory here, but suffice it to say that villains like Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind and Sabbac were all having a pretty great time wreaking havoc where and when they could.
This is where the Outsiders come in. You see, Freddy's first encounter with the team (back in issue #10) involved him taking on Sabbac, who later returned as part of the Infinite Crisis shenanigans. Naturally, Freddy took the opportunity to become involved again—or, rather, he was manipulated into becoming involved all over again. It turns out that Sabbac is actually scheming to use Freddy's magic to try and mess with the multiverse, and things just get even crazier from there.
Let's Talk Talent:
This is the second time I've vouched for a story written by Judd Winick as a Weekend Escape and I genuinely don't think it will be the last. Winick's grasp of character voices make him an incredible asset for big ensemble casts and working with a group like the Outsiders really gives him a chance to flex his skills with both humor and darker subject matter.
The conclusion of the crossover was written by Jen Van Meter, who you may recognize from stories like Black Lightning: Year One or JSA: All Stars. It's not easy to pick up a story in the middle of an arc and match the previous writer's tone flawlessly, but Van Meter does exactly that, making the whole story seamless.
On the art side, Crisis Intervention features work by Matthew Clark and Dietrich Smith who bring a bright, pulp-y flavor to the table. Outsiders is a quintessential team book from the early 2000s, and I mean that in the best way possible—this story is a perfect little bite of nostalgia for anyone who wants to revisit the comics of that particular era.
A Few Reasons to Read:
- Crisis Intervention is a perfect way to dip your toe into the bigger and more bombastic ideas of a mega-event like Infinite Crisis, and it provides plenty of trailheads you can follow with different characters into different stories.
- Never touched an Outsiders team book before? This is a great place to start, with a fantastic line-up of characters who will be both familiar and new, a group of classic villains and all sorts of absolutely bonkers stakes.
- Not particularly ready to start trawling through decades upon decades of Fawcett history to find good Freddy Freeman stories? Start here! Sure, it's a little bit of a risk to fling yourself into the deep end like this, but Crisis Invention is a perfect crash course in someone like Shazam Jr, plus some other Shazam Family favorites show-up as well!
Why It's Worth Your Time:
Crisis Intervention is a one-two punch for anyone who might be curious about the Outsiders as a team or about Freddy Freeman as a character, and that's not even touching on the fact that it can also serve as an on-ramp to the larger story of Infinite Crisis. It'll throw a bunch of new characters and ideas at you, sure, but don't let that dissuade you—this is a great story with a ton of potential and plenty of room for exploration. Freddy himself is a fantastic counterpoint to the Outsiders' darker, more covert nature (he kind of sticks out like a sore thumb in his bright blue and gold), but that also makes him a great character to stick with.
All told, Crisis Intervention is a quintessential '00s event crossover. It's dense and over the top, it packs in tons of obscure concepts and characters and it funnels well into other stories and other books you can pick up later if you're feeling inspired. Who knows, maybe this Weekend Escape will turn into a whole series of personal Weekend Escapes just for you as you fall down those rabbit holes.
And hey, with Shazam! Fury of the Gods out now, there's never been a better time to brush up on your Freddy lore!
Outsiders: Crisis Intervention is available in print and as a digital graphic novel. You can also read the full storyline on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.
Mason Downey writes about comics, movies and superhero history for DC.com. Look for more of his work on GameSpot, IGN and Polygon and follow him on Twitter at @rustypolished.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Mason Downey and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.