Batman and the Outsiders

So, DC keeps shuffling the deck with their titles and it appears that the Outsiders have been the latest title to be slated for cancellation. The next issue of the Outsiders, issue #50 will be the last issue. The title then will be re-started as Batman and the Outsiders. That’s right; DC keeps the retro ball rolling by taking the Outsiders back to their roots to that fateful day when Batman told the JLA to go eff themselves.

DC has already teased the reader with the new line-up for Batman and the Outsiders. The great people at Newsarama.com have posted the teaser pic for this new roster. In addition to the goddamn Batman, we have Metamorpho, Grace Choi, Boomerang, Katanna, Catwoman and Martian Manhunter.

That is one motley collection of characters. I have no idea how DC came up with this roster. I can’t say that this roster gets me anymore interested in the Outsiders than the last roster. Now, the most notable difference is that Nightwing is off the team. That is a good thing. I never liked Nightwing with the Outsiders.

Personally, I’d love it if DC formed an adult version of the Titans for characters like Cyborg, Nightwing, Starfire and Donna Troy and let the new teen heroes led by Wonder Girl and Robin take full control of the Teen Titans.

Another interesting possibility would be for Nightwing to join his two fellow Titans, Roy and Wally, over in the JLA. I certainly think that elevating Nightwing to the JLA would boost Dick’s character and make him a more central character within the DCU. Batman doesn’t need the JLA for his reputation and would be just fine slumming with the Outsiders.

There are several reasons why I’m a bit skeptical that I’m going to enjoy this newest incarnation of the Outsiders. Even though I think Batman doesn’t need the JLA, I do prefer Batman with the JLA than with the Outsiders. I still believe that the JLA should always be the all-star team and that means you have to have the big three on the roster. Will DC let Batman maintain membership in both titles? It’s possible. After all, Wally West was a member of the Titans and the JLA at the same time at one point. However, it is more conceivable that the Flash could be a member of two teams due to the nature of his abilities. Batman would be spread a bit too thin in two team titles as well as his own solo titles.

Another reason why I’m not overly thrilled with this move is that I rarely like it when a team is subordinated to one character. I didn’t like it when the Legion was Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes and I don’t like it now that it is Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes. I believe that a team has to stand on its own two feet and not have any one member cast such a large shadow that the rest of the team becomes irrelevant.

I’m also not too sure that there is a space for the Outsiders in the DCU. This team has struggled to find their own identity and role within the DCU. You already have the JLA for the All-Star team. You have the JSA to play the role of the old guard who inspired all the heroes in the DCU. You have the international government themed group in Checkmate. A present day teen team in the Teen Titans and a future day teen team in the Legion of Super Heroes. You even have the supernatural team in Shadowpact.

The Outsiders have always been that misfit team that could never find their identity or their proper role within the DCU. I’m not too sure that this move of placing the Outsiders under Batman does anything to give them an identity or create an appropriate role within the DCU for this team. I’m just not sure that DC really needs the Outsiders.

And I don’t know if I’m feeling this roster. It seems like another odd mix-mash of characters and that the writer may have a tough time creating any chemistry between these characters. Batman is clearly the headliner and the only A-list character on the team. Martian Manhunter has a nice pedigree as a long time JLA member and certainly does give the Outsiders a bit more cred. However, I don’t know if J’onn really meshes well with the rest of the roster. And things between Batman and J’onn have been very rocky so I have a tough time seeing J’onn working on a team that Batman is leading.

Catwoman is a bizarre choice. Now, this is such a bold risk that it will either be a homerun or an absolutely horrid choice. At this point, I’m leaning toward the latter, but I’ll try and keep an open mind.

It appears that if no matter what version of Outsiders you get you simply have to have Katanna and Metamorpho on the roster. I don’t object to either character, but DC has never been able to get me that interested in either character.

Boomerang and Choi are two more holdovers from the most recent version of the Outsiders. I have never found Choi’s character to be appealing. Boomerang has potential, but Winick never managed to tap into that potential.

Of course, the big question is who is going to write Batman and the Outsiders. DC hasn’t announced who will be handling the writing chores for the newest version of the Outsiders. Now, I’ll admit up front that I run hot and cold with Judd Winick. There are times when he cranks out some wonderful story arcs. And then there are other times when he coughs up some real duds.

I think that the best move for DC would be to replace Winick on this title. That isn’t an insult to Winick who is certainly a talented writer. All the writers for Marvel and DC, whether I harshly critique their work or not, are talented people. But, Winick has had more than enough time with the Outsiders and it just doesn’t seem to be working out. I think that a breath of fresh air is needed on this title. Just like Winick got his chance to do something special on the Outsiders, another writer deserves to get their shot to try and make Batman and the Outsiders something great. If DC doesn’t tap a new writer for Batman and the Outsiders then I might not bother picking up the debut issue of this series.

7 Comments

  1. I doubt Batman is leaving the JLA; as for whether he realistically has enough time for all this, I think we’re well past that at this point, given his two solo books, permanent team-up book with Superman, JLA membership, and usual clutch of miniseries and guest appearances.

    My guess is that Batman’s role will be akin to Oracle in the Birds of Prey, and that the Outsiders will be recast as Batman’s personal enforcers.

  2. Character-wise, there is very little on this title that interests me. In fact, only Batman interests me.

    In DC as a whole: Batman, (some) Superman, Green Lantern, the Marvel Family, Nightwing, and Ion are really the only ones that interest me.

    In Marvel: Fantastic Four, Hulk, and Spider-Man. Yep, that’s it.

    Honestly, I think that when I jump back into collecting (which will be within the next year) I am going to be looking at something outside the big 2. I’m a big CyberForce fan, WitchBlade looks fairly interesting, Watchmen seems intriguing, and I am sure there is an independent title out there that is perfect for me that I just haven’t found yet.

    So, Rokk, I’m with you… nothing about this title gets me excited.

  3. I’ve always loved the facial expressions on the JLA members from B&tO #1, especially Wonder Woman.

    I certainly agree with you about the chaos and purposelessness of the new lineup. That’s really been true since Graduation Day relaunched the silly thing. With Batman, Black Lightning, and fricking Geo-Force in the JLA, there’s just no reason to have a team called the Outsiders in the field. And the idea of giving J’onn a new permanent team home that’s *not* the JLA is completely wrong.

    In principle I think it’s OK to have a superteam or two running around who don’t have some special mission statement or membership criterion [flagship/ world savers, legacy heroes/ training camp, teen heroes/ slumber party, paroled criminals/ secret government ops, etc.] Indeed, it’s gotten kind of artificial the degree to which the DCU assigns such a formal role to each of the teams. In a world full of superheroes, some of them would just team up because they happened to like each other and make a good team; that’s now the JLA, JSA, and New Teen Titans all started anyways.

    But if you’re going to do that– and the 90s Outsiders title. which wasn’t any good, at least did that, having the Outsiders operate outside the JLA-run hierarchy– then you need to be extra sure not to allow “no mission statement” to drift into “implicit but stupid mission statement”– “alienated and grumpy former Titans,” or “really edgy heroes.”

    And putting Batman in charge just can’t fit with the decision to make Batman sane and let him play nicely with the other big heroes. He founded the Outsiders in a fit of pique that foreshadowed the jackass he’d turn into in the 90s and 00s. It’s exactly the kind of thing that Tower of Babel/ OMAC/ Crisis of Conscience/ Kingdom Come Batman would do– found a separate super-hero team that he could run and keep as a weapon in reserve against the JLA gods. If we’re really going to give that Batman up (and I won’t miss him), then he has no reason for any team affiliation other than the JLA.

    Verification word: pcysqhe , which seems like the name of a Liefeld-created telepath character.

  4. seems like DC is trying to bank on nostalgia. To a point, that can be either a blessing to fans or a slap in the face. A blessing to those who longed to see Batman rejoin the team he founded back in the 80s or a clever ploy to those who view it as just a money grubbing endeavor. I think of it as the latter, but would give the book a chance if I was a big enough Batman fan as I suspect will be the target audience.

  5. Great post, Rokk. I’m definitely annoyed at the “Wolverine Effect” of tossing popular characters in to boost sales.

    I actually really liked Nightwing as part of this team. It seemed like the natural progression to see him take a leadership role. Plus, it was my only chance to see a well written Nightwing, since his solo title has been so awful.

  6. That is one motley collection of characters. I have no idea how DC came up with this roster.

    Maybe they picked a bunch of names out of a hat! That makes about as much sense as anything else. If so, too bad B’Wana Beast’s name didn’t get pulled 🙂

  7. I think that DC’s greatest strength, hands down, is it’s ability to grow characters out of their original roles. Robin became Nightwing, speedy is now in the JLA, it’s stuff you just don’t see in the Marvel universe. The Problem is that once they grew up, DC needed some more youngsters for the roster. Today there are a lot of first generation kids who are key players in the DCU, but also some that have gotten pushed aside for a younger model.

    In this sense, I think Outsiders is a good idea. There are a lot of people who either don’t fit into the JLA model or don’t want to. It would be a neat twist to take a bunch of characters that really don’t work, and make them into a team based on being essentially rejects. I’m not sure how well it will play out, but it’s a good idea in theory.

Comments are closed.