Batman and the Outsiders #3 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Dexter Soy, Artist; Veronica Gandini, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Needs More Jefferson, Less Bruce
Ray: Batman and the Outsiders is a tale of two stories. Bryan Hill is a great writer, and the work he’s doing with Batman’s team of Outsiders is excellent as they get closer to being a team and grapple with their own issues, but they’re mired in a central plot that focuses on a trio of original characters that don’t really stand out from their 90s pastiche origins. When we pick up in Batman and the Outsiders #3, Ra’s Al Ghul is training young Sofia in the ways of war, giving her a new suit of armor and sword and encouraging her to embrace her dark side in a battle with an army of assassins. Why Ra’s is so interested in this one girl is never made clear, but I was far more interested in what’s going on in Gotham. Duke is temporarily benched from action after his breakdown following his near-death, but this has led to his friendship with Cass deepening as the traumatized young woman reaches out and sees a kindred spirit who needs help to conquer the same pain she did.
There’s been some controversy over Black Lightning essentially taking a job working for Batman, including from the character’s creator, but I think this issue goes a long way towards alleviating concerns. Jeff Pierce interacts with every member of his team, shows his ability to lead and support his colleagues through challenges, and stands up to Batman to make clear he wants to be seen as an equal. Pierce is long one of my favorite DC heroes, as the closest to a true street-level “small ball” hero like Spider-Man they have. Hill even does a good job with Katana as she struggles to figure out what’s happening to her husband’s soul. But every time we cut to a character like Kaliber or Ishmael, the series slows to a crawl as they monologue and get across very little that’s interesting. The reveal of Sofia’s new “name” that Ra’s grants her is an anticlimax. I feel like this could become a great series, but it’ll have to do it in the second arc.
Corrina: The strength of this series is how Jefferson Pierce interacts with all the members of his team, supporting and listening to them.
The weakness? Batman. I know why Batman is here. Put Batman in a book and it sells better. But the problem is that Jeff and Bruce seem to be having the same conversation over and over about who’s in charge of the team. Jeff is still taking his assignments from Bruce when, truly, Jefferson should be pushing to go after Sofia because she’s well worth saving and saving those who need help is what Jefferson does.
Witness his vow to Katana to help her with her late husband and the other souls trapped in the sword, or his compassion for Duke. This team is coming together, as can be seen from Cass and Duke’s moment together. (Those two are a natural combination.)
For scenes like that alone, I’d recommend this book. But I could do without Kaliber, and I certainly feel as if Batman’s presence in this book is holding the team back, story-wise.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.