Peter Tomasi can do no wrong right now. His work on Nightwing was my personal favorite take on the character, his Green Lantern Corp has been just as solid as Geoff John's work on the main Lantern title as well as always on time, The Mighty, had a promising first issue, and the opening scenes from his Outsiders Special were some of the best Alfred moments I have ever read. So it wasn't hard deciding if I would pick up Outsiders #15, part one of "The Deep." In fact, it was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made, and it didn't disappoint.
One of the highlights for this new direction for the Outsiders is that the book is now Alfred's title. He is the leader, the man who runs the show, and it's far overdue. In the past he was obviously overshadowed by Batman, strictly reserved for bringing Master Bruce his cold soup as Batman pulled all the strings. I mean the title was called Batman and the Outsiders for a reason, but now that Batman is dead (MIA to get technical), Alfred is stepping up to pick up the pieces and reassemble the original Outsiders team on Bruce's request. Picking each member of the team to represent each of Batman's special talents to create one multiple-person Batman is a stroke of genius and fitting as a last request by Bruce who was always a cocky son of a bitch (haha).
Since the Batman and the Outsiders Special #1 showed Alfred rounding up these misfits, while simultaneously giving a hint at the series first real threat, issue #15 spends most of it's time laying the groundwork for how this team will operate compared to past Outsiders iterations, and the sacrifices each member will have to embrace to fully commit to world-wide justice. There is a reason why the team is called "the Outsiders" and it's taken to a new meaning here in issue #15. These aren't just C and B-list heroes, considered outsiders among the super-hero community, these guys are going incognito, disappearing from the face of the Earth in order to begin saving it. It's a pretty engaging concept whose context is fully realized by Black Lightning's current family crisis. His one daughter is in a coma (not sure how she got there) and he has to leave her behind, not able to return to visit her if she awakes, in order to fully invest in Batman/Alfred's plan for world preservation. It's a heavy topic that shows the level of commitment these heroes are willing to go to in order to protect the ones they love.
The rest of the Outsiders cast also get a fair share of quality face time in issue #15. Geo-Force recounts his battle with Deathstroke from Brad Meltzer's DC Universe: Last Will and Testament which looks to be his driving subplot for Outsiders; facing inner demons from attempting commit suicide just so Deathstroke didn't "win," having it backfire, then being labeled a hero amongst your peers. It's also awesome to see the Creeper become the new Starman from JSA in the pages of Outsiders. Spitting out witty, and often times hilarious, lines that correspond with nothing currently going on in a conversation. Plus, I understand the frustration with remembering which are stalagmites and which are stalactites. I also really enjoyed the reveal of who is Owlman in this issue. It isn't anything very shocking, makes perfect sense, and since I enjoyed the character's brief appearance in the Batman and the Outsiders Special, as well as his outlandish exodus from his old, boring day-job here in issue #15, I'm more than willing to accept his new role in the Batman universe.
Now while Lee Garbett doesn't measure up to Adam Kubert, who penciled the special from last week, he still does an adequate job on Outsiders #15. Garbett successfully hits a wide range of emotions with each of the cast he is given. Whether it's Black Lightning's goodbye to his comatose daughter, Roy Raymond's "that was so Batman" smirk, the Creeper's schizophrenic conversations, and everything in between, Lee Garbett nails it. Garbett proved himself to me as a quality storyteller with Grant Morrison's two "Last Rites" issues of Batman and continues to prove his case here with Outsiders.
With Nightwing having seen it's final issue last week, Robin this week, I would say Outsiders is the definitive Batman story currently hitting shelves. Now Battle for the Cowl is right around the corner, and DC is definitely pimping that book as the next chapter of the "Batman RIP" saga, but for my money, Outsiders is the logical continuation of what would happen if Batman really disappeared. The idea is in the fantastic hands of Peter Tomasi and Lee Garbett.
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