Batman and the Outsiders #9 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Dexter Soy, Artist; Veronica Gandini, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: I was worried about the conclusion to last issue, which saw Jefferson’s school be targeted by Ra’s Al Ghul’s assassins, in Batman in the Ousiders #9. It didn’t go as badly as I feared – instead of many dead children, we only have one dead fellow teacher at the school, who in the intro segment it’s revealed was one of Jefferson’s closest friends and confidantes.
Not a fan of essentially creating a new female character and giving her added importance post-mortem, but I basically knew I wouldn’t like this plot either way from the moment it happened. The good news is, Bryan Hill is still one of the best Bat-writers, and his small but tight group of heroes has another compelling issue. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Jefferson is spiraling and is out for revenge. While Batman doesn’t have anything he wants to hear, it’s Katana who manages to calm him down enough to keep him from going rogue and taking revenge against Ra’s recklessly. Hill’s first annual wasn’t my favorite issue of the series, but it built some very strong foundations between these two characters that are paying off in this arc.
The other major dangling plot thread involves Duke and Cass, both of whom faced major temptations from Ra’s and Shiva in recent issues. The two have a closer bond now, and are striking out on their own to fight crime. When Batman finds them, it sets off a tense confrontation that ends with them making clear they don’t fully trust him.
I’m particularly fond of how Hill writes Cass, packing her limited speech ability with lots of meaning and making her seem passionate rather than childlike in her speech. It’s a tough balancing act, but he pulls it off. A Superman guest-shot meeting with Batman also hints at how major recent developments for the two of them will affect that partnership. The ending of Batman and the Ousiders #9 hints at a major betrayal that upends the power dynamic of the villains, and shows that Hill still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
This series started rough with issues too focused on original villains, but it’s found its footing since as one of the better books in the Bat-line.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.