Batman and the Outsiders #5 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Dexter Soy, Artist; Veronica Gandini, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Light It Up
Ray: Batman and the Outsiders is slowly finding its groove, although even in Batman and the Outsiders #5, it’s still bogged down by a story heavily rooted in original characters who remind me way too much of the 90s.
Batman is totally off-page this issue, letting the rest of the squad take the helm, which is a very smart idea. Black Lightning and Katana, the hold-overs from the old team, are leading a mission into the hostile nation of Khadym in search of the kidnapped Sofia and the villains Ra’s Al Ghul and Ishmael. The issue opens with one of the best scenes in the series as the two undercover heroes discuss their differing principles on killing and whether Black Lightning will be able to keep his morals as they enter a battle far more brutal than the ones he’s used to. The dialogue is great, but they don’t have much time to talk before they get a call from Kaliber that Sofia’s been sighted – but as we know from the last issue, she’s been turned by Ra’s into one of the enemy.
The second half of the issue is largely a battle segment as Black Lightning and Katana go up against the newly named Babylon with the help of Kaliber, only for an army of Ra’s goons to arrive in a dramatic appearance from underground. It’s one of the more dynamic fight scenes of the series, but the major plot developments feel a bit rushed. It was only last issue where we saw Sofia succumb to Ra’s brainwashing, but a brief talking-to from Black Lightning is able to make her see reason and pull her back to the good guys’ side?
It almost feels like Sofia was never the point – which is given more support by the fact that Ishmael takes advantage of the fight to corner Duke and Cass to apparently reveal a dark secret of Batman’s to them. We know Duke switches sides, at least briefly, so it sort of makes everything that’s happened so far feel like an appetizer. Still, I believe Hill will deliver here – he’s done some great work with the Bat-kids in his prequel to this series.
Corrina: When Batman and the Outsiders has focused on Jeff and his relationship with the other Outsiders, it’s been gold. The scenes in Batman and the Outsiders #5 between Jeff and Katana are a perfect example, two adults talking about the lives they lead and the choices they’ve made along the way. It doesn’t downplay Katana’s work with the Suicide Squad but neither does it validate it. Jeff and Katana may come at problems from a different angle but they understand each other well. Well enough to trust each other once the inevitable betrayal happens and they walk into what they expected to be a trap.
There’s a terrific sequence as Jeff cuts loose–perhaps for the first time in this series–as they rescue Sophia and Soy and Gandini make the pages literally crackle with energy.
There are still some discordant notes with this title, mainly Kaliber doesn’t seem to fit, but, on the whole, it’s well worth reading.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.