ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Outlaw: Relentless’ Is A Surprisingly Emotional Story

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Outlaw: Relentless

Outlaw: Relentless is the newest installment of the Marvel Heroines line. Outlaw: Relentless is published by Aconyte Books, an Asmodee Entertainment imprint.  The Marvel Heroines line also includes Domino: Strays, Rogue: Untouched, and Elsa Bloodstone: Bequest. Outlaw: Relentless is written by Tristan Palmgren, who also wrote Domino: Strays.

Overall, Domino’s posse has been doing pretty well for themselves. They’ve got plenty of jobs, and they’re making lots of money. But Outlaw (Inez Temple) is still having doubts about her job. She worries about aging, fearing that she’s too old to be a merc.

Unfortunately, her fears are justified, in her mind, when a mission to stop an Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) ship carrying weapons, headed to various evil organizations, goes south. All the way south. They try to salvage the mission, but they couldn’t save most of the weapons. Now Tony Stark and the Avengers, who were reluctant to hire Domino’s posse in the first place, are furious. And it’s all Outlaw’s fault.

Outlaw hasn’t been feeling like herself due to the mind control of Johnny Dee, a villainous mutant. He draws her back to her childhood home in Texas, threatening her brother’s life and forcing her into serious psychological torment. As Johnny Dee controls her mind, Outlaw relives some of her worst memories as she desperately fights to take him down and save her brother and her posse.

Outlaw: Relentless contains easter egg references to the events of Domino: Strays, as well as previous comics Outlaw has been in, including mini-series Domino: Hotshots.  This is an excellent way that Palmgren connects Outlaw: Relentless to the larger comics universe. And while it’s not essential to read any of these materials before reading this book, I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of fun to see elements that have carried over. 

For readers unfamiliar with Outlaw and the others in Domino’s posse, Palmgren does a solid job of briefly introducing them in Outlaw: Relentless. And because the focus is largely on Outlaw and her story, it’s not essential to know everything about them.

It would be easy to write Outlaw one-dimensionally as a sexy badass that loves to fight; because that’s part of who she is. But it’s not all of her. Throughout her journey, Outlaw has to confront trauma she’s been avoiding for years. She faces the dark parts of herself. And through this, Palmgren does a masterful job of storytelling while building up her character.

As she endures Johnny Dee’s manipulation, Outlaw does a lot of self-reflection. She grapples with her fears about aging,  thinks about her future, and contemplates her relationships with the rest of the posse. Especially Domino and Diamondback. Unlike the other members of the posse, Black Widow, Atlas Bear, and White Fox, she’s got history with them. A lot of history.  Domino is her best friend. She doesn’t want to lose them by leaving the merc business, but she doesn’t want to put them in danger if she performs poorly. The incident with A.I.M. shook her badly.

Johnny Dee acts as a secondary main character, antagonizing Outlaw long before his actual introduction. The way Palmgren Johnny Dee is memorable because of how real he feels. His mutant powers aside, it’s entirely believable that someone can hate themselves and who they are so much that they turn that anger on other members of their own community. Despite being a mutant himself, Johnny Dee hates mutants more than anything. He whole-heartedly believes mutants deserve to be hunted down.

Johnny Dee’s determination to destroy mutants is so intense that he teams up with a group of humans that also hate mutants. His logic has become so twisted by hatred that he can’t see that his supposed allies hate him just as much as he hates other mutants.

One drawback of the story is the final confrontation between Outlaw and Johnny Dee. Without going into spoiler territory, all I’ll say is that several sections require re-reading to understand exactly what’s happening. While flipping between the past and present, Johnny Dee’s memories and Outlaw’s memories showcase their similar but different backstories, and it’s also confusing at times.

Outlaw: Relentless is a surprisingly emotional story about changing identities, healing from trauma, and what makes a life worth living.

Outlaw: Relentless will be available wherever books are sold or through our Bookshop.org affiliate link on September 7th, 2021.

Outlaw: Relentless
4.5

TL;DR

Outlaw: Relentless is a surprisingly emotional story about changing identities, healing from trauma, and what makes a life worth living.