Batman and the Outsiders #8 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Dexter Soy, Artist; Veronica Gandini, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Batman and the Outsiders has taken a major turn upwards as it focuses more on its core cast and less on the original 90s-style antiheroes and villains who dominated the first arc. Bryan Hill’s character work is always excellent, especially when he’s working with characters he clearly feels passionate about. Batman and the Outsiders #8 opens with a particularly strong action scene, as Black Lightning and Katana work together to keep a plane sabotaged by Kaliber from dropping on Gotham.
One thing I’m a fan of in this run is the way Hill seems to be pushing the limits of Black Lightning’s powers. For a character who’s essentially an electric elemental, he seems to spend most of his time zapping random punks. In this run, he’s displaying a much greater command of the electric grid and lightning itself. Jefferson Pierce feels like a character who should be one of the DCU’s powerhouses, and I think this run is getting him closer to there.
The smaller, character-driven scenes in this issue are equally good. We get an excellent scene between Jeff and Bruce as the fallout from Alfred’s death is explored and we see how close Bruce is to the edge right now. Katana’s compassion for Sofia as she works to recover from Ra’s’ brainwashing is very well done and shows the rare softer side of a character too often written as stoic and stabby.
We didn’t see enough of Cass and Duke for my taste, but their bond which Hill started building in Detective Comics continues to evolve as Duke grapples with new powers and Cass struggles with her fear of her mother. Less good? The ending of the issue, which seems to brutally kill a friend of Jefferson’s and puts a school full of largely minority kids in peril. It’s certainly a way to show how evil Ra’s is, but it also feels oddly stupid and short-sighted for him and has many ugly real-world parallels that were a bit uncomfortable.
Corrina: I was also unhappy with the end of Batman & the Outsiders #8, for all the reasons Ray mentions but particularly because I like teacher Jefferson and this seems to blow up that part of his life and set him on the road to vengeance. We already have enough characters after vengeance. We need more teachers, more centered heroes, not less, as can be shown by Jeff and Bruce’s conversations this issue. They’re different and the blowing up of the school brings them closer to being the same.
The near plane-crash sequence is eye-opening, and the art team does a great job is showing not only Jeff’s kinetic energy but also creating suspense and concern for our heroes.
I like all the character work Hill is doing but I remain concerned about some of the plotting.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.