Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist(s): Julian Lopez and Bit
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: The most secretive superhero re-organizes a team of covert operatives to run pro-active strikes against underworld activities.
Commentary: The idea of Batman, the consummate loaner joining a team has always been somewhat of an oxymoron. So, you know what? He doesnít. He forms his own team of handpicked operatives to do super-black-ops runs. Heís still the brilliant strategist in control and this suits his character just fine. Itís been awhile since weíve seen this particular team in comics and indeed, other than Katana, the line-up bears little resemblance to Batmanís original Outsiders. Thatís ok, since this oddball crew heís assembled has all the potential to be as quirky and exciting as that original team. If I remember correctly Batman was more of a joiner and field operative in the original run but it looks as if here he will be monitoring things behind the scenes. I heard there was some shakeup in regards to the creative team. I avoided the one-shots leading up to this and the original creative team that was announced did nothing for me. Once Chuck Dixon was announced as the writer my interest peeked as heís pretty much written everybody in comics solidly.
Dixon doesnít disappoint. He makes these B, C, & D -listers work. Case in point; the Martian Manhunter. Jíonn is a beloved staple in the DC Universe and a mainstay in the many incarnations of the Justice League but heís one of those characters like Wonder Woman and Aquaman (who will be making an appearance in these pages) that just doesnít seem to cut it on his own. I havenít read the last mini-series that led up to his new look because, there again, the creative team did nothing for me. So, Iím glad to see Jíonn where he does things best - on a team. I purposely didnít skip to the end of the issue at all and Iím glad that I didnít. The lead up and payoff of Jíonnís reveal is handled great as Jíonn takes on a guise the entire issue that I never suspected was him. Shape-shifting and invisibility are two big assets to cloak & dagger super-heroics not to mention a little super-strength when need be.
Catwoman (which one is this?) and Katana being outfitted by Batman is cool but one thing I didnít like was the constant banter between these two as they try to sneak into the enemy facility. If they are trying to be sneaky why do they talk so much? I havenít seen Katana in years. It seems she has a penchant for crossing the line when it comes to killing yet she states sheís often been entrusted with Batmanís life. Maybe some brief updates here would be in order. The same goes for Metamorpho. Is this Rex or, the doppelganger from the previous incarnation of the Outsiders? Batman in the midst of deciding what to do with Thunder is a good story point. Itís natural Batman wouldnít just accept everyone on the team because they were on the previous team. How this plays out with Thunder departing, proving herself or becoming a better hero has yet to be seen but it adds a bit of depth to the all out action fest this book looks to be.
Julian Lopezís and Bitís art is a good fit. They have a handle on rendering varied locales which other artists sometimes fall short on. We go from cityscapes at night to the Batcave, to a top secret facility, a palace and finally a secret lab. All are fully realized with detailed backgrounds. No laziness or cutting corners with the art here. The action flows smoothly and gracefully with the female characters and we almost feel the impact when Jíonn turns over tables and throws hired guns across a hall and into a wall. Needless to say by issues end the team is faced with a big problem which Batman has a vested interest in. Weíve seen this brand of Ďcrisisí before and itís a good thing Batís team is here to cut it off before things escalate. If they can.
Final Word: Solid characterization and story telling from Chuck Dixon and nice art from Julian Lopez and Bit has peaked interest from me in regards to looking into the next issue of Batman and The Outsiders.
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