Review: BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Dexter Soy
Colours: Veronica Gandini
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman and the Outsiders #1: When the quest for justice drives Batman into some morally ambiguous areas, he calls in the most moral man he knows: Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning, and his team of operatives known as the Outsiders!
Several years ago, Batman personally put the Barrera family into hiding after they suffered through terrible experiments at the hands of an organization called the Ark. Now all but one of them have turned up dead…and Batman needs to locate Sofia Barrera before the wrong people get their hands on her—and her surprising power! But it wouldn’t be Batman without a hidden agenda, would it? And when Black Lightning, Katana, the Signal and Orphan find out what Batman is really up to, their every loyalty will be called into question.
Batman and the Outsiders #1 kicks off a new title with an old name. The original book had Batman quitting the Justice League of America to form his own team in disgust when the League refused to get involved in a political conflict involving the United States and Markovia.
That all happened pre-Flashpoint, and that history no longer stands. However, many elements from that original series are present in this version, as well as a number of new elements. As a long time DC fan, I appreciate DC maintaining a sense of connection to the classic version, even though they are telling a new and different story.
Primarily, we have some of the original members still on the team: Black Lightning and Katana. With the success of the Black Lightning TV show, it seems a good idea to find him a regular home in one of their ongoing titles. What better place than back in the Outsiders?
There are also the members that are new to this version of the team, Orphan and the Signal. Orphan has needed a home since the Gotham Knights team in Detective Comics fell apart, and the Signal has failed to catch on despite getting a strong push in All-Star Batman, so maybe a team book is a better place for him for now.
The title is Batman and the Outsiders and it appears that Batman is taking that literally. He doesn’t consider himself to be the team’s leader or even a member. He established the team and assigns them missions, but he has put Black Lightning in charge of it.
However, there is an uncertainty of the team’s leadership. Lightning fears that the others see Batman as the real leader anyway and struggles to assert himself as the team’s actual leader. But he also seems to fear that Batman will step in and take over. And there seem to be some hints that Katana might challenge Lightning for his place as leader.
I like that the team is made characters that are broken or flawed in some respect. Black Lightning has his leadership issues, Orphan is uncertain about what her future holds, the Signal is haunted by the trauma of a past encounter with a supervillain. Many argue that Batman is not a well-adjusted person, so it seems interested that he would form an elite superhero team of similarly damaged individuals.
Batman mentions that he his headed to Markovia, a location that played a major role in Outsiders history. Also, in the back pages of Doomsday Clock #5, it was revealed that there is another team called the Outsiders operating out of Markovia. This team has among its members Geo-Force, a founder of the classic team and Eradicator, who was in one of its later incarnations. It seems inevitable that the two teams will clash before very long. Will they end up as enemies, or consolidate into a larger group? Either way should provide an interesting story.
Fist issues of a new series often don’t give us much to judge the series on except a few interactions between the characters and hints of the threats to come in the future. So, it is rather unfair to start picking the story apart unless there are some glaring problems that jump right out at you. I can see no such issues here. This is a solid first issue that has me looking forward to reading more.
I could complain of the team roster seeming a bit lean, but I suspect we will be seeing some additions to the team, possibly when they inevitably get to Markovia. Unfortunately, Metamorpho is unlikely to joining this version of the Outsiders, but I would hate to see him taken away from The Terrifics.
This is a solid first issue that does the job of introducing the characters and starts giving us a feel of how they work together. This is a promising start for a new take on a classic concept and could easily become one of DC’s star titles