21st May2019

‘Batman and the Outsiders #1′ Review

by Phil Wheat

Written by Brian Hill | Art by Dexter Soy | Published by DC Comics

batman-outsiders-1-cover

The Outsiders, at least in the 2003-2007 Judd Winick run (and to a lesser extent the Chuck Dixon penned Batman and the Outsiders run that immediately followed), is one of my favourite ever DC titles. It is also, at least in my opinion, one the the teams that DC seems to neglect for huge periods of time – seemingly making them interchangable with the likes of the Titans and the Justice League; at least in terms of characters and rosters.

This particular version of Batman and the Outsiders apparently stems from Brian Hill’s run on Detective Comics last year and as such it feels a little like new readers, like myself, have actually missed out on a lot of back story that sets up what we’re experiencing in the first issue – especially when it comes to new Batman villain Karma and the actions he took against Batman and other members of the Ousiders previously. It’s a gap in the story that, understandably, be filled by going back and reading said storyline; but its also a plot device that should – I think – have been explained a little more in the pages of this book. Especially given how it affects the comraderie of this particular iteration of the Outsiders, and the actions of tema member Duke, who is – for someone unfamiliar with the character and his backstory – way too angry and antagonistic for a member of a superhero team.

Speaking of the comraderie, it seems this book is less Batman and more Black Lightning. It is Black Lightning who is the leader of this team, even given free reign by Batman to run the team as he wishes. yet Batman’s name is being used to sell this book. Yes, Bruce Wayne/batman appears in this issue but it will be interesting to see how much involvement he has with the team going forward once its fully established (typically after the first story arc has ended).

Thge plot set up in this book is a simple one – evil bad guys turned humans into metahumans, said metahumans all died apart from one family, the Barreras. Said family is hunted, leaving only the daughter, Sofia Barrera, behind – a daughter who still has powers. Powers that are connected to how much hurt she takes. The Outsiders connection to this woman? Sofia and her family were rescued by Batman and relocated to Los Angeles and, obviously, the Bat is p*ssed that the family he hid have now been found. Oh and he undoubtedly has a hidden agenda too. After all this is the Batman after all.

That’s the plot but the main focus of Batman and the Outsiders #1 is actually the Outsiders themselves, their relationship with each other and their relationship with Batman. Which means neither the plot nor the subplot is actually explored with any depth within this first issue. We do however get plenty of action, a huge explosion and a ton of expostition. It’s only the final panels of this book that garnered any of my interest however that couldn’t combat the lacklustre feelings I had towards the rest of this book – which was otherwise a mess of convoluted storytelling that only drove me away as a reader.

I’m not usually quick to judge but, honestly this – for me – is not a patch on Winick’s Outsiders run, and especially given how dark and angry this issue feels, I can’t reconcile this book with my love for the Outsiders of the past. As such this is probably one comic I’ll be leaving on the shelf.

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