A great shape for the shape they're in: Graeme gets surprised, 4/5 of the way through from 8/22.

And this is where I surprise many of you by saying the following: OUTSIDERS: FIVE OF A KIND: METAMORPHO/AQUAMAN #1? You should really go out and pick it up.

I'm not changing my tune on the entire "Five Of A Kind" event, I have to point out. It's an entirely unnecessary series of books that almost works against the stated intent - I don't feel that anything I've read in the first three books (Nightwing/Captain Boomerang Jr., Katana/Shazam! and Thunder/Martian Manhunter, for those of you with a short memory) has done anything whatsoever to promote the new Batman And The Outsiders series, and may even have done the opposite and made the series seem less attractive with each successive issue - in the name of cash grab and filling shelf space. If you threw the entire series in my face and asked me yay or nay, I'd go for the nay option after complaining about you throwing something in my face in the first place. But nonetheless, this Metamorpho and Aquaman team-up succeeds where the previous issues have failed by managing two things that the others didn't: Having a story, and having some really rather amazing art.

Story first, because - as good as it is - it's the lesser of the reasons to look at the book. G. Willow Wilson, a writer new to comics (This may be her first published comic? I think she has a Vertigo graphic novel out soon, but I can't remember when it appears), comes up with a oneshot that succeeds on its own terms - It's nothing that will bowl you over, perhaps, but it's a solid short story that ties in to Metamorpho's history and attempts to introduce and explore its two characters' personalities as much as their superheroic powers and identities. As basic as that sounds, it's still something that none of the other books in the line have lived up to, and as a result, more than I was expecting here.

Much more than I was expecting, however, was the artwork by Josh Middleton. Don't get me wrong; I've liked Middleton's art in the past, but somehow was still unprepared by the clear storytelling, quirky linework and textural color he brings to the table here - It's a wonderful look that raises the writing up on every level and makes the book so much more enjoyable. Stylized and full of life, it's the kind of thing that can make you want to go back and find everything that he's worked on, to see just how he got to this (Disney meets James Jean, to my eye) place. Without Middleton's artwork, this would still be a fun enough read and still the best by far of the Five Of A Kind books, but with it, it's a high Good and worth reading even if the idea of Batman and his Outsiders makes you break out in hives.