Story: Bryan Hill
Art: Dexter Soy
Colors: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
What They Say:
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 has 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!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With a couple of incarnations behind it, I’ll always look very fondly upon that original Batman and the Outsiders book for what it represented at the time and the cast that it brought out to play with. Bryan Hill’s incarnation is one that has some of that same familiarity in its early stages here, giving us Batman as the aloof mission-giver that sometimes gets involved, and some varying levels of players and new characters. He’s paired up with Dexter Soy on the artwork and with this installment largely spending its time in Gotham, it’s a dark and grim book. Which I kind of expected on one level but I do hope that the Outsiders aspect helps it to step away from there from time to time and show something brighter with more variety. Soy’s artwork is fantastic here with a lot of detail, strong layouts, and some really dynamic action that Veronica Gandini colors beautifully.
With the impetus for this group’s creation in Detective Comics books I didn’t read, we have the kind of tough to start team idea here. Batman has put Black Lightning in charge and working with Katana to help Duke as Signal and Cassandra as Orphan to deal with a range of things that he can’t always get involved in right away. The idea is also to help Duke through his recent issues with Karma and the fight that went down there while also trying to get Cass to deal with her fear of the future and all that it represents. Naturally, Jefferson isn’t keen on this because of his general distrust of Batman but also because he’s not sure about operating like this. Katana, in her own way, is the ever-reliable soldier that fights to bring justice and honor Maseo in her sword and she and Jefferson have always had a solid working relationship. She’s willing to challenge him once again to get him on the right path but it’s just kind of frustrating to watch Jefferson going through this instead of really making a decision to go all-in or step away. He knows being middle of the road on this stuff almost invariably leads to bad results.
While we see some basic training and fieldwork here, and some interpersonal banter between Jefferson and Bruce where Bruce again gets his way, the main story points come up quickly. Batman had dealt with a group of billionaires some years ago intent on creating their own metahumans and he took down their facilities. While he couldn’t help most of those that were brought into the program, he helped Gabriel and Ana and their daughter Sofia that was changed because of it. Ana died some time ago from the experiments but the book opens with Gabriel being killed and Sofia’s powers being showcased in how she heals very quickly but also gets stronger the more pain she feels. Now that she’s being hunted and her father’s death has hit the wires, Batman wants the team to bring her to Gotham for safety as he expects Ra’s al Ghul is behind this. The team isn’t completely ready for this but I like that on the flip side we see another protector – from the future – stepping in to protect Sofia.
With this series being added to the DC Universe slate of books I figured I’d try it since I like Batman books without much Batman and I have a history with the title overall, though less so with some of this cast. Duke and Cass I’m superficially aware of at least but that’s about it. The draw for me is the nature of the team and the creative that’s here as Hill and Soy execute this really well with a slick and polished feeling that hits all the right notes. Everything we need is introduced quickly – including names – and the general setup so that we can grow in the investment as it goes on. The opening story hints at bigger things but keeps it in reserve so that there’s more to come. It’s not overstuffed but it’s busy with what it wants to accomplish, though that keeps it from having a little downtime just to breathe. All in all, a strong start that will have me coming back for more.
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: DC Comics via DC Universe
Release Date: May 8th, 2019