Welcome to the DC Read-A-Thon of Batman and The Outsiders! With the announcement of the full roster of Steve Orlando and Ivan Reis’s Justice League of America, the team had a different feel to it. The team seemed all over the place, Vixen, Ryan Choi’s Atom, The Ray, Killer Frost, then you get Black Canary, Lobo, and Batman. Now here’s what caught my eye about the team further, they announced a trade of Batman and The Outsiders. Batman leading a team that seems like a mish-mash of DC everything gives this a nice Outsiders feel. It got me to thinking, I have all the issues so why not start reading it? Hence the beginning of the Batman and The Outsiders DC Read-A-Thon. Without further ado, here is Batman and The Outsiders #1!
Welcome to the Great Bat-Rebellion!
What makes this series so fascinating is how it is structured from the get go. It all begins as Batman is working himself to the bone to protect Gotham City. It’s where I like where Mike W. Barr takes this, it’s a good structure for Batman. He’s sending off Lucius Fox on a journey to Markovia but his mind is elsewhere in his battles within Gotham City. These battles are also fraying Batman as his secret identity as Bruce Wayne. Happy for his friend but still can’t dwell on his friend leaving as he’s got his own war to fight. Even more clever is Barr puts in two days worth of storytelling condensed within a short burst of panels. That’s all it takes and then it is off to set up Batman and the Outsiders.
Many of you saw Markovia and those familiar with Markovia probably had a, “Oh wow it all began there?!” moment. Lucius Fox goes missing in that country and Batman decides to call to the Justice League of America to help him out. To keep it short and sweet, Batman doesn’t get the help of the Justice League. The Government tells the League to stay out of it and as you figure, Batman isn’t happy at all about this. Which leads to Batman tendering his resignation to the Justice League, which you can imagine was huge back then. Batman decides then and there he’s going to save his friend Lucius without the help of the League. Leading to a great explanation of Batman in the midst of a few panels and sets the stage perfectly for what’s to come.
This page is Classic Batman.
Now we hang our hats fully in Markovia from here on for the rest of the issue. A big part of this issue is this is the set up for Brion becoming Geo-Force, who’s the half-brother of Tara a.k.a Terra from Teen Titans. My favorite part is how Tara and Brion became brother and sister, bless you back matter. Truncating the editorial somewhat, Mike W. Barr had a chat with Marv Wolfman about his new character Geo-Force having earth powers and Marv wondered if Barr had been reading his New Teen Titans. Marv had Terra with earth powers running around in those pages, but Marv figured he could come up with something. I couldn’t do justice to Barr’s hilarious rantings but the short version is, Marv said “they are brother and sister” and the rest is history. Now back to the issue.
Apologies for that quick digression in this Batman and The Outsiders Read-A-Thon, but it is a cool story.
This is honestly my first time ever seeing the origin of Geo-Force and that is the best bit of this for me. It’s sad to see Brion/Geo-Force and his brother Prince Gregor’s father die but then Dr. Jace comes into play. She’s cranky but oddly fun, I think of her as the prototype for Dr. Nemesis in the X-Men. She’s the one who gives Brion his Geo-Force powers to help save the country. Gregor has his doubts but knows that he couldn’t stop his brother anyway. Barr has a great way of handling a death, setting up an origin, and showing relationships of characters within two pages. That’s remarkable and it doesn’t feel rushed at all. It keeps up the strong flow of the story as soon many new and old characters come into play.
Here’s the even better part about Batman’s Markovian adventure. Every member of The Outsiders is set in place by the end of the issue. No Batman gathering the troops or anything else, quick set up for Black Lightning and everyone else gets explained throughout the rest of the issue. Black Lightning got a cool moment dealing with one member of the invading force, but that went haywire and fast. The only other characters who get any major explanation is Halo, who Batman finds within Markovia, Geo-Force, and Metamorpho. Katana gets a quick appearance, does some damage, and off to the races. It’s cool to know where everyone stands though in a relatively quick fashion in the second half of the issue.
Old school and awesome, this is why I dig the Geo-Force origin.
The Halo origin is still early days, hard to judge as to where that will go but the Geo-Force origin is wonderful. Geo-Force is a classic old school style origin and it’s about as good as you can get. That’s when you get Metamorpho involved as he’s there to meet the good Dr. Jace to help him out, which gets messed up by the invasion force. Geo-Force gets taken out but hey, he’s a main member of the team you think he’s out for long? While Batman is taking care of Halo and she’s along for the ride until he gets knocked out himself by our unknown force. That’s when we finally see Lucius Fox, Black Lightning, and what’s left of Metamorpho after his battle, and now Batman meets Baron Bedlam. Which sets up the next issue.
Mike W. Barr is amazing in structuring the series so far, it’s smooth to read and the concept gets set up at hyper speed. It’s an absolute delight to read, characters work well, and it flows pretty nicely for the most part. The major establishing point was the why and how of Batman putting this team together, Barr nails this without any problem and that’s what makes this fun. It’s got its share of quirks but in a good way. It’s just weird enough and it works with a slight bit more of an edge while still being within the Comics Code Authority. Yes kids, Comics Code Authority, it existed and wow people found strange and wonderful ways to work around it. Batman and The Outsiders had a different feel to it and I dig that.
Made a point to sneak this in as I got a major kick out of these panels.
Take a look at the art I post in this too, Jim Aparo’s art on Batman and The Outsiders is amazing. Aparo and Barr are the co-creators on this series and you can tell they are going for broke here storytelling wise. Aparo’s art is off the charts, it looks great. There’s emotion flowing through each of the characters in actions, movement, and excellent facial expressions. There’s so much life in this comic and that helps give it that different feel from a lot of team series. Aparo and Barr are both showing they want this series to feel different and it does feel different. I’ve also never appreciated the coloring of this period until I noticed what Adrienne Roy did here. Roy’s coloring is mood setting, especially in the post-resignation scene from the League. That scene showing why Batman had to leave fired on all cylinders.
It’s interesting to me when you have artists you never quite pay attention to until you start to really look at something. That was me and Jim Aparo here. I’ve always liked Barr’s stuff, Camelot 3000 and some of the Warlord stuff I’ve read, but this is next level appreciation here. The work with Halo, the set up for why Metamorpho was there, and just everything with this team build up was solid stuff. Wow this is going to be a fun read-a-thon.
Join me as I dive into Batman and The Outsiders further, I’ve never read this and this is a joy to read thus far. Till next issue, thanks for checking out my recap here. Bye for now!