The world needs a lot of things, but does it need another Batman comic? Maybe not. However, that doesn’t mean a new series couldn’t be fun. Alas, Batman and the Outsiders does not make a solid case for being anything besides yet another cash grab with the Caped Crusader.
In theory, this series joins Batman with a bunch of periphery DC characters that haven’t had quite the spotlight of the A-listers. To be honest, this isn’t the worst premise for a team book. However, Batman is in this for literally the first two pages, and he’s not even in costume, so it’s really Bruce Wayne. But instead of really focusing on the other team members, we spend most of the issue in the POV of Sofia Barrera, a doctor the team is trying to save.
What I’m saying is, I’m not sure why this series exists if it isn’t interested in the core team or dynamics that would spring from that. Yes, the first issue focuses more on the team, but that only points to more focus problems between issues.
The dialogue isn’t corny, per se, but it is dreadfully bland and derivative. Although, one scene in particular rubs me the wrong way. It opens with Bruce Wayne talking to Black Lightning and most of their discussion revolves around Batman himself. But they’re talking about Batman memes, like they have access to our real-life perception of him by referencing what he stands for and his quirks like Scott Snyder and Tom King keep doing. It’s distracting, self-satisfied, and borderline meta (and not in a good way).
This could have been written by anybody — in fact, that goes for the whole script. It lacks any spark, wit, or charm. It’s most reminiscent of a ’90s comic either from Image or churned out in the company’s influential wake. Bland characters, bland dialogue, bland emotions, bland action, and weird art.
Speaking of which…Dexter Soy’s art is too angular and problematic to be fully generic, although it’s close. Backgrounds are an afterthought, Bruce Wayne looks like a 15 year-old, and his angular (subtly disturbing) anatomy is closer to the Clone Wars animated series where flesh, metal, and cloth appear to be the same material.
Slight spoilers, but I’d like to check Hill’s attempt at feminism. Sofia asks for a gun and Kaliban won’t give it to her. She calls his bluff saying, “I’m not going to use it on myself, if that’s what you’re worried about. I’m a lot of things, but it would help if you stopped treating me like I was fragile.” Cool. Nice empowering moment, right? Well…once she goes inside, she does indeed try to use it on her brains. Kind of undercuts the message, doesn’t it?
Granted, if Sofia had worked through her emotions and not decided to pull the trigger, that might justify the messy message (although it still points to women being overly emotional). Yet, she doesn’t get to make that choice–the main villain, Captain Genericmysticguy smashes through the door, which leads her to running away and being captured. I’m not an expert on women’s rights, but this seems insulting.
The best I can say for Batman and the Outsiders is that it’s not egregiously bad. But if a series makes you question its very existence…it’s aggressively mediocre. Are you tired of all the generic Big Two comics these days? Then don’t buy this and send a message. That’s the only silver lining I can find around this.