Review: BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #6
[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 #6: While the mission is a success, the Outsiders do not feel like winners. Measures are taken to deprogram Sofia and understand the extent of her abilities, while Ra’s al Ghul’s power and influence grows enough for him to establish a new league in Khadym, unsullied by distractions and temptations of the earthly plane.
In this issue, we see that that there are cracks developing between Batman and his team of operatives. As we’ve seen before, Black Lightning doesn’t exactly trust Batman, despite the fact that Batman appears to be completely straightforward with him. He has revealed his true identity and made assurances that he will not undercut Jefferson’s authority as team leader.
So why does Jefferson mistrust Batman? Is there some unrevealed bad history between them? In this issue, we see Jefferson telling Bruce that Sofia needs to recuperate and not be used as a tool in Batman’s crusade against crime. “She needs rest. Not an outfit with a bat on it,” he tells Bruce. Is this hinting that Batman and Black Lightning have had a similar conflict in the past?
It’s also good to see Alfred make an appearance, although an editor’s informs us that this takes place before Batman #77, lest we assume that his presence is a hint that his death in that issue didn’t really happen. This does make me wonder when other Bat-Family titles will start to show the repercussions of Alfred’s death, assuming he really is dead.
Alfred receives a package at Wayne Manor which contains a chessboard with chessmen in the shape of Batman, the Outsiders, and other unspecified characters. This gift from Ra’s al Ghul characterizes the current conflict between him and Batman as game, which is an intriguing device for issuing a challenge.
We also see that Ishmael and Lady Shiva have led the Signal and Orphan to a facilty where the villain Karma is being kept prisoner. They tell Duke and Cassandra that it is Batman who is Karma’s jailer.
However, we discover that this is a lie meant to drive a wedge between them and Batman. Ra’s al Ghul’s plan is to “destroy Batman with his own children. And then we will make them our children.”
I can see how such a lie could work to sow doubt in the minds of Batman’s team, but I don’t see why they would be likely to accept it as true just because the villains say it’s true. Neither Ishmael nor Lady Shiva have given any indication that they are more trustworthy than Batman. And what evidence is there that it’s Bruce that kept Karma prisoner? It’s hardly his usual modus operandi.
Also, when they revealed that the prisoner was Karma, I had no clue who he was. This is a recurring problem that I am having with this series. A number of characters, like Brutale and Kaliber, are being introduced as if it is assumed that I know who they are and what their backstory is. I’m not saying that Hill needs to rehash their entire backstory, but a judicious bit of exposition when introducing these characters might be nice for those of us who haven’t read every Bat-Family comic ever.
It appears that Ra’s al Ghul is presenting a challenge to Batman and the Outsiders that could tear the team apart. It will be interesting to see how they will overcome this threat and if the team will come through the conflict intact.