While Outsiders #16 is labeled part 2 of "The Deep" it actually marks part 3 of the storyline started in Batman and the Outsiders Special #1. This issue also continues the trend the first two chapters started where there was a heavy focus on character interaction and little to no plot progression. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing as Peter Tomasi is one of the best in the industry for delivering quality and memorable character moments when handed an ensemble cast to write. In fact, it's probably his best quality as a writer, making Outsiders one of the most enjoyable DC books being published.
But even with the great character interactions of issue #16--namely the entire sequence where Metamorpho precisely defines each member's role on the team--the story still lacks any sizable plot. For the third issue of a storyline, many comic fans would cry foul and give up on a series labeling it as "directionless." It also is an odd choice for Tomasi to move the plot at such a snail's pace considering this is, for all intent and purpose, a relaunch of the title. You would think the series would blast out of the gate like a bull during a PBR event, but it's quite the opposite here. And what they have shown regarding the plot, through vague segments of prophecy and life debts, doesn't really connect with the rest of the Batman world. I get that this team was formed to create a global Batman, mentioned by Alfred in the Batman and the Outsiders Special and hammered home here in issue #16, but the threat this team is tackling doesn't make me think Batman besides constant images of bat insignias. I just wish the series tied more closely with the entire Batman universe currently going on considering the Batman editors at DC have pushed this book along with all their current Battle for the Cowl happenings.
Another thing worth nitpicking here is the total lack of Alfred in issue #16 outside (pun…nice!) a quick mention of him monitoring the team in space. Tomasi has made a point of showing Alfred is the backbone of this new team and I would like to see him as much as possible knowing how well Pete Tomasi handles him with his pen. Seriously, Tomasi is the best writer of Alfred I have read and I can't get enough of it. So minor nitpick, totally subjective, but still worth noting.
But for the lack of both Alfred and real plot developments, Outsiders #16 still delivers a comic that is worthy of the $2.99 price tag. What I can say is that when these issues chalk full of character moments instead of plot progression are looked at in the context of a much longer run, they will stand out as the highlights of the entire story. This is always the case. I could give a damn if there's a sweet punch thrown by Geo-Force towards Deathstroke, it's the build-up to that point at makes the moment memorable, and that's why all this solid character development is key to a worthwhile story in the long run. It's just a matter of us only receiving a chunk of that story once a month which makes the lack of developments sting that much more. But judging from Tomasi's previous work, Outsiders will be a consistently stellar read, plot progression or not.
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