Batman and the Outsiders #3 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Dexter Soy, Artist; Veronica Gandini, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: The Team Bonds
Ray: After a rough second issue that turned the Outsiders into guest characters in someone else’s story – and felt like a refugee from a 1990’s Wildstorm relaunch – this book gets back on track with Batman and the Outsiders #3, a powerful issue that tackles the psychological issues facing one member of the team head-on. Duke Thomas has been grappling with fear and depression ever since he nearly died in the arc that led up to this series, and his anxiety has caused the team some dangerous situations. After last issue’s failure to rescue Sofia from Ra’s Al Ghul and the evil Ishamel, Batman gathers the team to tell them they need to function better as a unit and he’s going to test them with a training exercise in the sewers. But as they explore the sewers it’s not Batman waiting for them – it’s Karma, the villain who they faced in their first mission as a team, and who nearly killed Duke.
I cued in pretty quickly to what was going on – it’s not Karma down there, since he was defeated pretty conclusively. It’s Batman, testing the team with their worst nightmare – and, in particular, seeing how Duke copes. But what saved this scene was that this wasn’t Batman being cruel. It was Batman exposing a very real problem and making clear that he was here to help his protege rather than to bench him. The scenes with Bruce, Cass, and Duke, in particular, are some of the issue’s best. I was less interested in Sofia being urged to kill Ishmael by Ra’s – it was very boilerplate “embrace the dark side” stuff from a villain who is usually more interesting than this. The visuals of the massive dragon Sofia hallucinates are impressive, though, and Dexter Soy is turning in some great artwork here. The character work in this comic is much more effective than the plotting, and that’s enough to keep me hooked for now.
Corrina: I still think there’s too much Batman and not enough Jefferson Pierce in Batman & the Outsiders but this issue is a great step forward after the weird focus on Kaliber.
The art stands alone in the training exercise with the newly developing team, especially the embrace of Duke from everyone. That moment feels earned and, for the most part, the images tell the story of how much grief and fear that Duke’s been carrying and how much the others care about him. I’m less than thrilled at Batman’s attempts at therapy, which seem cruel, but perhaps he wanted to force Duke to admit his fears.
Sofia remains an intriguing character but she needs to stop being indecisive. We’ve seen her waver between good and evil for three issues now and, while I understand it’s meant to show the difficulties of having to pick a side at all, from a plot standpoint, it has gotten repetitive, especially since we haven’t seen much of her previous life, beyond her bond to her father.
This, however, is the persuasive and insidious Ra’s that we haven’t seen in some time in his DC appearances. He’s truly menacing because he’s partially right.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.