[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Bryan Hill
Artists: Miguel Mendonça
“On The Outside” part one! Duke Thomas. Cassandra Cain. They and other young heroes don’t intend to stand down, no matter what Batman thinks is best. Who can Batman trust to guide them? They need a teacher…and Black Lightning fits the bill!
We open up on Duke trying to save one of Batman’s fans, but it proves to be a trap that ends up with the civilian dead and Duke mortally wounded. The death of the fanboy has caused a public uproar, one which has the public calling for Batman’s head, which is why his sudden excursion to Metropolis is a welcome one. The young heroes under Bruce’s tutelage start to feel as if his leash on them is more like a noose, stifling their growth.
Fans gets a glimpse of the Martian Manhunter, as he acts as a messenger for the Justice League. A tough hero himself, he gives the reader a bigger world view as much of the book in the past few arcs circled around the goings-ons in Gotham. Sometimes it is nice to see that there is more to this world. The bigger treat in this book is, of course, Black Lightning, as this iteration of the character is a nice addition, especially for fans of the TV show and miniseries. His presence gives the book a whole new flavor, one that helps connect the book to the rest of the DC Universe.
The banter between Batman and Black Lightning is more a character exploration of the two heroes, and less a recruiting of one hero to the fold, as he convinces Jefferson Pierce to help him in Gotham. Cassandra Cain also comes back to the fold, as she hears what has happened to Duke and realizes Batman needs help, but a familiar foe shows up, looking to end the Bat Family.
There are no negatives worth mentioning in this issue.
This arc pretty much restarts the book, not only from Tynion’s superior run, but also from the last issue. The story by Hill is layered, methodical, and unravels like a good murder mystery. The art by Mendonça is riveting. Definitely a shift in tone and tempo, as the book moves forward with a brand new feel.