Shut up, Halo: Inside making the Outsiders

As a kid, when Pops took us to Dearborn for a night-time stop at the comicbook spinner rack, I grabbed for Jim Aparo’s THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. I still remember the time when he suddenly wasn’t the artist (issue 198, a team up with Karate Kid, drawn by Detroit artist Chuck Patton).

It was the harbinger of doom, as issue #200 was to be the last, with a new Aparo-drawn, inked, and lettered book BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS. It was hailed as a “team series more fashionable for the 1980s” (Paul Levitz).

I hated it.

My little brother, on the contrary, loved it and was instantly a devoted fan who bought every issue. As a card carrying fan of NEW TEEN TITANS, I found Geo-Force’s costume … interesting and I was all for more appearances of Metamorpho and Black Lightning, and … Jim Aparo.

Ok, so I read every issue, too.

From memory: Halo was a alien ball of color energy who would check us earthlings out and one day, the Halo ball saw a teenage dropout hellcat get herself killed in a car crash of dubious origins. The Halo ball decides to restart the hellion’s life by reanimating it with it’s own ball of energy. The result? An naive, amnestic teenager who has different color-coded energy powers with a costume “more fashionable for the 1980s” (Paul Levitz again) that Batman finds and promises to help her discover her identity.

Halo was the comedic relief/ sympathetic-soul-of-the-team with an outfit Olivia Newton-John wouldn’t wear.

Now: Black Lightning? There is a Seventies’ icon. “Black Lightning”, “Black Panther”, “Black Vulcan”, “Black Goliath”… How did The Falcon ever get to be a superhero of color without the obligatory prefix? Black Lightning was cool. Black Lightning was more powerful than most Caucasian heroes. Black Lightning was a Olympic medalist. Black Lightning had a totally 70’s costume.

It took forever to get a Black Lightning Action Man.

The writing was on the wall for DC Comic’s fledgling toy company, DC DIRECT: small budgets and low sales were killing the boutique toy line. As a last ditch effort, they announced a new line, HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE, which was supposed to feature a comprehensive character repetorie and designs based on the art of George Perez. In a strategic cost-saving move, the figures would be based on a standard body “buck”, with costume add-ons unique to each figure. It was a good idea, but the figures were in a scale larger than any past DC DIRECT offerings and were hardly based on any artist-specific drawings. The line lasted for three/four waves and was cancelled.

The cancellation was a shame, because it featured a decent Batman (nice muted blue/grey costume) and a brilliant Black Lightning. Seriously, the complaining of the time obsfucated an excellent figure, faithfully designed to his classic appearance.

I went surfing the inter-waves to nail down Halo’s costume, when I fumbled across this little meme gem:

See? Delightful.

Hurm, yes. Let’s give that a go:

Right. That was a thrill.

Is it too obvious to say “more to come”?

Stay Tuned.  Next we tackle the team member who is, really, wearing some kind of thong.

Tell me your BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS traumas here:

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Filed under Deane Aikins

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