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Who is The Outsider? Here's My Theory! (Trinity War SPOILERS!)

Since his first appearance leading The Secret Society of Super-Villains, fans have guessed at the identity of The Outsider. I have my own theory about The Outsider's true identity, which I will reveal now.

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I believe that The Outsider is the Alfred Pennyworth from The Crime Syndicate of America's Earth-3.

Here are my reasons for believing this is so:

The original Silver Age Outsider was Alfred Pennyworth.

The character The Outsider goes back to the 1960s. In 1964's Detective Comics #328, Batman's butler Alfred is killed when a boulder crushes him. Shortly thereafter, a mysterious criminal mastermind named The Outsider begins working in Gotham. In Detective Comics #356, it is revealed that a mad scientist brought Alfred back to life using a machine that also made Alfred evil and gave me the worst case of eczema ever.

 Side effects of regeneration machine include skin irritation and insanity.
Side effects of regeneration machine include skin irritation and insanity.

At the end of the issue, Batman punches The Outsider onto the machine, activating it. This restores Alfred back to his usual happy, not-dead, not-evil self.

The New 52 Outsider looks like Alfred Pennyworth.

More than any other DC character, The Outsider looks like Alfred Pennyworth. Remove the color from the panel below and you'd be hard pressed to say if this was Alfred or The Outsider.

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The Outsider knows where Batman lives.

Justice League of America #5 gives us many clues to the Outsider's identity, as you'll see in the panels below. After The Outsider kills Catwoman, he announces he's going to drop her body at Batman's doorstep. Signalman asks, "You have Batman's home address?" The Outsider responds, "Yes. Ha. I do."

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The Outsider knows The Joker.

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"If The Joker could see me now." It almost sounds like a throwaway line, so I wouldn't be surprised if most readers glossed over that panel as they read Justice League of America #5. But Geoff Johns is too good a writer to put that line in for no reason.

I think that line gives us a glimpse to the origin of both The Outsider's stark white skin and his tic where he says "Ha." in between lines of dialogue. Perhaps at some point on Earth 3, Alfred fell into a vat of the same acid that made The Joker.

The Outsider has a deep knowledge of all-things Batman.

He calls Catwoman Selina.

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He has a map of the Batcave.

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He knows everything there is to know about The Scarecrow.

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The Outsider watched his world die.

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This has been the clue most cited by people who think the New 52 Outsider and The Outsider from Flashpoint are one and the same. The Flashpoint universe in no more, perhaps The Outsider is the only survivor of it. But The Outsider from the Flashpoint universe looked nothing like Alfred. He was an Indian man named Michael Desai. Michael Desai and the current Outsider share little in common other than a love of well-tailored suits.

Michael Desai, The Outsider of Flashpoint
Michael Desai, The Outsider of Flashpoint

I think the world that the New 52 version of The Outsider watched die was not the world of Flashpoint, but rather the Earth that is home to the Crime Syndicate of America. In Earth 2 #1, it is revealed that Apokolips attacked Earth 2 and the main New 52 Earth at the same time. The main New 52 Earth's heroes fought off Darkseid and his hordes before they could do much damage. Earth 2 didn't get off as lucky, losing both Gotham, Metropolis and other cities, as well as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman before the might of Apokolips. There's a chance Earth 3 fared even worse.

On Earth 3, characters who are heroes on the main Earth are villains. The Justice League is the Crime Syndicate. Perhaps self-interest got in the way of the villains of Earth 3 being able to work with one another to fight back the hordes of Apokolips. I think this Outsider made his way through a boom tube from Earth 3 to the New 52 Earth, and has been plotting for a way to bring the Crime Syndicate of America over to the New 52 Earth since then. I strongly believe that Pandora's Box, the focus of the Trinity War crossover, will be the key to bringing the Crime Syndicate of America to the main Earth.

What if this scene that Madame Xanadu sees in her vision in Justice League #22 isn't a vision of the future, but a glimpse into Earth 3's past or present? Instead of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, what if that's Ultraman, Superwoman and Owlman?

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The Crime Syndicate of America plays a huge role in Forever Evil.

Right after Trinity War concludes, the DC Universe will be thrust into Forever Evil. It is revealed in the promotional image below that the Crime Syndicate of America will be major players in this event. This makes me more firmly believe that the evil Alfred Pennyworth of Earth-3 is their herald on the main Earth, setting things up for the Crime Syndicate to take over. By settings things into motion for the Justice League to square off against the Justice League of America in Trinity War works in the Crime Syndicate's favor. Divide, conquer, and pick up the pieces.

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"Forever Evil" is also the translation of the Latin phrase "Aeternus Malum" from the Secret Society's communicator coins, one side of which looks a lot like Death Storm from the Crime Syndicate of America.

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With only one week to go before Trinity War concludes in Justice League #23 and two weeks before Forever Evil #1, I believe The Outsider true identity will be revealed very shortly, and that he will be revealed as the Alfred Pennyworth of Earth 3!

UPDATE! Two pages from the Justice League: Trinity War Director's Cut #1 give more credence to my theory that The Outsider is the Alfred from The Crime Syndicate's Earth!

Justice League: Trinity War Director's Cut #1 is a reprint of Justice League #22, but featuring Ivan Reis's artwork in penciled form. In the back of the issue is Geoff Johns's full script for Justice League #22.During Madame Xanadu's horrific vision, Johns specifically calls for Reis to draw Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman in sillouette, and then refers to them as SUPERMAN-LIKE FIGURE, BATMAN-LIKE FIGURE and WONDER WOMAN-LIKE FIGURE. If these were the actual Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, there would be no need for him to refer to them in that way.

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But it's later in the script that he get the closest thing to definitive confirmation I feel like we're going to get until it's revealed in-story. Geoff Johns refers to The Outsider as Leader/Alfred. That's right. It's right there in the script. The leader of the Secret Society is Alfred.

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I'm surprised DC would let that LEADER/ALFRED line go to print. I'm guessing it was an oversight by the team who put this script book together, as it is a HUGE reveal!


Why Green Lantern's Ring is Overrated

It's said that a Green Lantern's Ring is one of the most powerful objects in the universe. It's limited only by its bearer's willpower. I'm calling BS on that. Why, you ask?

Because it can't make me a hoagie.

And that's what I want right now. A hoagie. Nothing fancy, just an Italian combo. And that is a feat that Green Lantern's ring simply cannot do. The ring can make me a green construct that looks like a hoagie. But it can't make me an actual hoagie. Green ham? What is this, a Doctor Seuss book? Green cheese? Not on my sammich! What do you mean the lettuce would only exist if he was concentrating on it? And if you think green bread is going anywhere but the garbage can, you have another thing coming.

This is all I want.
This is all I want.

Green Lantern's defenders will say that his ring can bring the hoagie ingredients to me, but so can Fresh Direct and no one is calling their truck the most powerful object in the universe.

It's fitting that the Green Lantern movie had a tie-in with Subway. They can't make a decent sandwich either. I said it.

Inability meets incompetence.
Inability meets incompetence.

Sure, his ring can save the world, but can it feed the hungry?


Vagueposting (Or...The Subject Goes in the Subject Line)

When titling posts, may I recommend using a title that has something to do with the body of the post?

I don't understand the trend of titling posts things like "Why?" "Do you think..?" "Am I the only one?" etc.

Do people do this in the hope that others will click on their post in in the interest of finding out just what this person is talking about? It's very similar to the annoying practice of vaguebooking on Facebook.

If you're wondering if you're the only one who doesn't like the way Peter Tomasi writes Atrocitus, say exactly that in the title, instead of using the vague "Am I the only one?" Obviously don't spoil stories for people in the title line, but please do write clear and concise titles.


That Time I Stopped an Original Art Theft at Ivan Reis's Table

It was Saturday at New York Comic Con. I turned to my friend and said, “We should head over to Ivan Reis’s table in Artist’s Alley. He has the original art to the cover of Earth 2 #1 at his table. It’s $3,000, so I don’t think either of us are buying it. But it’s cool to see it in person.” My friend, like me, is a fan of Earth 2, so I knew he’d want to check this out.

Ivan had two tables that he shared with his brother Rod and Joe Prado. Books of original art lined the table, along with a stack of sketchbooks for sale and a bin of covers and splash pages. It was in this bin where I had seen the cover to Earth 2 #1. Everything in that bin was at least $2,500.

As we approached the table, there were two guys leafing through the original art. They looked almost identical: same height, same build, same jeans, and same Yankees cap. The only difference between them was the color of their hoodies. One of them had the cover art for Earth 2 #1 on the table and another page from the bin in his hands. “Wow, that guy’s buying the Earth 2 #1 cover.” I said to my buddy. I’ve never seen $6,000 in cash trade hands before, so I wanted to hang out and watch the exchange take place.

There’s usually a bunch of people at this table: Ivan, Joe, Rod, various friends. Right now, it was empty except for a woman I took to be Ivan or Joe’s wife or sister.

The guy with the Earth 2 #1 cover and other cover in his hand walked away from the table.

“Did I just see what I think I saw? Did he just steal that art? Maybe he paid before we got there? What if I say something and it turns out he did pay for it? I’ll feel like a jerk. But what if he is stealing this and I don’t say anything? I won’t be able live with myself.” Those thoughts raced through my head in about half a second before I called out, “Did you pay for that?”

No response. He kept walking. His friend was silent too. Here’s the thing about asking someone if they’ve stolen something. If they haven’t stolen anything, they will very vocally tell you so.

I wasn’t sure what to do. These guys were both much larger than me, and if they wanted to, could easily kick my butt.

The first guy waited for his friend about 10 feet from the table. The friend picked up a splash page from the bin and put it down on a box he had placed on the table. He pulled out another page, looked up and asked the woman at the table, “How much?” She indicated the price was on the page. He put that page back, picked up his box with the other splash page resting on it and walked away.

Yep. These guys clearly just ripped off Ivan Reis. There was no question about it. When the two guys were about 15 feet away, I ran over to the woman behind the table and said “Those two guys just stole three pages from you!” She had no idea what I was saying. I repeated myself. She still had no idea what I was saying. “Oh damn,” I thought, “The Reises are from Brazil. This lady only speaks Portuguese!” I tried a combination of words, hand gestures and pantomime. Her eyes went wide. “They...stole…?” she said. “Yes! Those two guys over there!” They had just rounded the corner to the next aisle.

The lady called out something in Portuguese and this Brazilian giant ran over from another table. The two thieves were big. This guy was huge. She frantically explained to him in Portuguese what happened. He turned to me and said, “You saw them?” I responded, “Yeah, they’re right there!” They were almost lined up perfectly with us in the next aisle. “I don’t see them,” he said. “They’re right there! Those two guys in hoodies and Yankees caps.” “I don’t see them.” I was getting frustrated. “Follow me!”

I took off like a rabbit. The giant followed. The two thieves walked at a slow pace, like they didn’t have a care in the world. I pulled up about 15 feet behind them. The giant caught up with me. “That guy in the Yankees cap, and that guy in the Yankees cap,” I said while pointing at them.

The giant went up to the second thief. He stood in front of the thief and blocked his path. They exchanged a few words and the thief gave up the art. The other thief didn’t even turn. He just kept walking.

The giant returned to me. “Thanks,” he said. “What about the other guy?” I exclaimed. “What other guy?” he said. I pointed out the other thief. The giant gave chase. He tried getting in front of the guy, but the guy went around him. “Excuse me,” the giant said, trying to get his attention. No response. The guy kept walking. The giant grabbed that stolen art that was under the thief’s hand. This stopped the guy. He gave up the Earth 2 cover and the other piece of art he stole from Ivan.

The giant returned to me. He thanked me and told me that the thieves claimed they thought the art was free. “Yeah, right,” I said. He told the thieves to stay away from their table. I wish he had brought them to the police. I wondered how much of their duffel bag was full of other stolen goods. I saw police officers in Artist’s Alley every day of NYCC, but at this moment, I didn’t see one. He thanked me again. I followed him back to the table. My friends were still waiting there, and I still wanted to check out the original cover art to Earth 2 #1.

We returned to the table. The woman thanked me. Ivan returned to the table about a minute later and the woman explained what happened. He shook my hand and thanked me. I told him, “Don’t worry about it. I was just doing the right thing. I’m a huge fan and wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I let them get away with that.” Ivan reached for one of his sketchbooks, thought better of it, and picked up his book of Aquaman art. He pulled out a page from Aquaman #12 showing Arthur and Vostok-X talking and gave it to me. “Please, take this.” he said. Now it was my turn to thank him.

The next day, I said to my friend that I wanted to return to Ivan’s table. He had a book of prelims that had some cool stuff in it and I wanted to buy one. When I returned to the table, the woman from yesterday was manning it again. She smiled and said hello, as did I. I found an Earth 2 #7 rough cover prelim and indicated that I wanted to buy it. I pulled out my cash when someone called out, “Don’t charge him.” I turned and saw it was Joe Prado, sitting a few feet away. “That’s okay,” I said, and attempted to hand the woman my money. “You’re the guy from yesterday, right? The guy who stopped the theft?” he asked. “Yeah, that’s me.” I replied. “Don’t worry about it. Just take it.” he said. I smiled and thanked him.

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Later that day, I turned to my friend and said that I wanted to go back to Ivan’s table and buy this sweet looking Tempest design sheet that was in his prelim book, but I was worried they were going to think I was some kind of mooch that was trying to bleed them dry off one good deed. We joked that I’d have to have the cash out and throw it at them as I took the art. We didn’t return to the table.

We did stop by the table of Tim “Mr. Tim” Chamberlain, of Our Valued Customer fame. He was doing sketches of convention attendees. At this point, I had told the story of stopping the theft at Ivan’s table to every friend I ran into at NYCC. After telling him the story, Mr. Tim drew this commission for me:

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“It’s this apartment here, right above the comic book store,” the realtor said as we approached the brownstone. He was ahead of me, so he missed my fist pump and huge smile as he said that. I signed the lease immediately.

I had shopped at this store now and then over the years, but it didn’t become my regular spot until it became my very local comic store (VLCS?).

If you ever get the chance to live above a comic book store, I highly recommend it. At the time, none of my friends read comics and it was nice having people nearby with whom I could talk comics at a moment’s notice. I started referring to going to the store as “visiting the downstairs neighbors.” I joked about drilling a hole in my living room floor/their ceiling and installing a Bat-pole, so that I could drop down there after hours and read all the comics I wanted.

I don’t live above that store anymore. My move out of the building happened to time with the move to the other side of the country of my two favorite staff members there. In that way, the timing felt right. I still call the years living above the shop as “my personal golden age.”

It’s still my weekly Wednesday shop. I now live 10 blocks away instead of 10 feet. It’s a good store. The staff is friendly and always looks out for their regulars. If they knew your tastes, they would hold something for you if it was in danger of selling out. If it turned out you didn’t want it, no problem.

Today is the store’s last day of business. Tonight, they’ll be locking up for the last time. I went in this past Wednesday, their final new comic day, and the place had a pall over it. I felt like I was at a wake. People talked in hushed tones. Much of the stock had already been liquidated. Customers and staff alike spoke of this being the first time they’ve ever seen the actual walls of the store, now that the t-shirts and toys were gone. People were hopeful that the owner would reopen again nearby, but he’s decided to consolidate his business to his other store in another part of the city.

After closing time on Wednesday, I met the staff and some customers for drinks so that we could send the store off properly. We drank until past midnight, recollecting our favorite anecdotes about the store. I had a hard time sleeping that night; I was full of anxiety for my friends who were losing their jobs right before Christmas. But it looks like most of them will be still be employed at the store’s other location and the ones that will not have found new work.

I’m lucky enough to live in a city that has many comic book stores. There are probably a dozen comic shops I could get to in less time than it takes many users on this site to get to their nearest store. And the good stores here are great stores. Still, I think the death of my VLCS is going to be what causes me to go 99% digital. I’ve had an iPad for some time, but the social aspect of talking comics with the Wednesday crew is what kept me buying books in print. And I knew my weekly dollars were helping keep my favorite store in the neighborhood afloat. My wife will be happy with this new decision. She pushed for a move to all digital right after I got an iPad. Space is the main enemy of a comic book collector when you live in a one-bedroom apartment.

RIP LCS. You’ll be sorely missed.