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.