Review – Batman and the Outsiders #12: Rival in the Ranks

Comic Books DC This Week
Batman and the Outsiders #12
Batman and the Outsiders #12 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batman and the Outsiders #12 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Dexter Soy, Artist; Veronica Gandini, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: Wonderful Character Work

Ray: Like with all books, it’s been a while since the last issue, but that actually works well for Batman and the Outsiders #12. This issue comes after the conclusion of the last arc and feels like a big reset for the series in a lot of ways.

Duke and Cassandra are back in the fold after being tempted by the machinations of Ra’s Al Ghul and Lady Shiva, Jefferson Pierce has come out of his dark night of the soul, and the team has picked up two new members in the form of the rescued Sofia and the semi-reformed Shiva. But the team is far from stable, and much of the first half of Batman and the Outsiders #12 is just little character beats showing the tension between people. Shiva attempts to manipulate her daughter with some wonderfully meta digs about Cass’ place in the Bat-family, Jefferson and Bruce dance around each other uneasily, and Sofia steps into her own as a costumed hero. There’s also a surprising amount of humor, particularly in the dialogue between Duke and Cass.

But danger is never far behind, and before long the issue has taken a very dark turn as Ra’s re-emerges and makes clear just how far he’ll go to get his revenge. The stories of 90s Wildstorm rejects Kaliber and Ishmael come to a very abrupt end as they run out of usefulness for Ra’s. For those who watch the CW version of Black Lightning, you’ll see some similarities including the presence of the Markovian black market and some very dangerous technology for them. Shiva’s loyalties in this series have always been up for debate, but after the end of this issue – where we finally learn a little more about her origins – it seems unlikely she’ll be turning on her new allies anytime soon. This title took a little while to get going, but over the last arc Hill has turned it into that rarest of unicorns – a truly character-based team book that’s at its strongest outside of the big fight scenes.

Batman and the Outsiders #12
A new hero. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: Batman and the Outsiders #12 digs deep into what makes these characters who they are and it’s probably my favorite issue of the series as a result. The facial expressions shine in the various scenes between this group of characters who’ve ended up working together.

Hill’s character work has always been excellent and Batman and the Outsiders #12 shows how definitively he writes not only Jefferson Pierce but Katana, Shiva, and Cassandra Cain. His take on Batman, one that acknowledges he’s basically not well mentally, isn’t my favorite but it’s a legitimate take on the Caped Crusader. My favorite scenes overall, however, were between Jefferson and Katana. A romantic relationship has been building slowly between the two heroes. They’re drawn to each other but the obstacles between them are obvious, especially the fact that Katana’s husband’s spirit resides in her sword. Katana tackles these directly in their conversation, and it’s great symbolism of an actual sword either cutting through the problems between them or being a weapon that keeps them apart.

I’m less enamored with the plot which features the mass destruction of yet more innocents, emphasizing once again that Ra’s Al Ghul is a genocidal murderer. It’s a more simplistic plot compared to the complex character work.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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