Comic Book Review: Outsiders #15

The Revolution enjoyed Batman and the Outsiders Special #1. I had dropped Batman and the Outsiders a while back because this title had become such a pointless and directionless mess of a read. However, I gave Batman and the Outsiders Special #1 a chance and enjoyed it. Tomasi has earned my respect and trust with his amazing rehabilitation of Nightwing. Therefore, I feel confident that Tomasi will be able to work his magic on the Outsiders and make this title a quality read. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Outsiders #15.

Creative Team
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Pencils: Lee Garbett
Inks: Trevor Scott

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Alfred meeting with Geo-Force, Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Katana, Halo, Creeper and Owlman. Alfred explains how Batman formed the Outsiders so that there would always be a “Batman” outside of Gotham.

Alfred continues that Batman hoped that a team that represented the different aspects of Batman himself would fare best against the evil force that is gathering. That Batman knew that there was more to saving just one city and that a world-wide view was necessary.

Alfred reveals that Batman wanted each of the assembled heroes here today to be a part of Batman’s vision to help save the future. Alfred says that he has brought the heroes here to make a decision that is going to impact their lives. Alfred introduces himself to everyone and says that from here on out they can all call him “Boss.” Geo-Force comments that Alfred is asking them to make a mighty big leap of faith in following Alfred like they did the Batman.

Alfred responds that Geo-Force’s hesitation and concern is quite understandable. Alfred continues that if listing his resume will help then he will do so. Alfred rattles off that he has personally assisted the Batman in his fight against crime for all these years. Before that, Alfred was an intelligence officer in MI-6.

Alfred says that he will operate as the Outsiders’ eyes and ears on the world. That each and every operational directive will come from Alfred and Alfred alone. Alfred says that if this is too big of a leap for anyone’s delicate sensibilities then they can feel free to walk away now with no harm done.

Metamorpho comments “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” Alfred continues that to be an Outsider at this juncture comes with great sacrifice. That each of them will need to shut down their personal lives. That they will have no contact with the outside world except in rare circumstances. That they will truly be outsiders. Alfred continues that this will be a tour of duty. That if they enlist then they will not be able to see or speak to their loved ones for months at a time.

Metamorpho comments that this is not how Batman ran the team. Alfred responds “Times have changed. You either embrace this concept or you don’t. In or out. It’s that simple.”

Black Lightning comments how it is not that easy to shut down their personal lives. Katana interjects that soldiers going off to war have been doing it for all eternity. Black Lightning quips that it is easy for Katana to feel that way since she no longer has any family alive.

Halo steps in between the two heroes and says that the Outsiders have always been more than just a team. That they have always been a family. Maybe a dysfunctional one, but a family nonetheless. And that it is better than having no family.

Alfred states that there is no shame in Black Lightning stating that he cannot be a part of the team right now. Alfred says that there will be a need for reserves at a later date in case any of the Outsiders die on their missions. Alfred says that there should be no illusions. That being in the Outsiders will be like being in front line combat and constantly in the line of fire. Alfred continues that this is not a strike mission. That this is a campaign. And it will be long and bitter.

Alfred tells everyone who wants to accept being on the team with the parameters that Alfred has just outlined to please step forward. Alfred says that anyone who decides not to be a part of the team does not need to explain themselves. That everyone here has proven their mettle over the years.

Geo-Force, Halo, Katana, Metamorpho and Owlman all say that they will join the Outsides. Creeper babbles about nonsense and does not give an answer. Black Lightning says that he will give Alfred his answer tomorrow.

Metamorpho wraps his arms around his old teammates and says that this is déjà vu all over again. Metamorpho then says that he has just one question. Metamorpho asks who Owlman is. Alfred responds that Batman felt Owlman would make a strong addition to the team. The Outsiders want to know when Owlman’s mask is coming off. Alfred says that revealing his secret identity is completely Owlman’s choice.

The Outsiders state that they all know each other and that they are not going to work with someone who they know nothing about. That it is a matter of trust because in the end that is all the Outsiders between each other. The trust that they will save each other. Owlman takes off his mask and reveals that he is television news personality Roy Raymond, Jr.

The Outsiders are unimpressed and want to know why some TV personality would be a member of the Outsiders. Owlman shouts that he is here because he is one hell of a detective. The Outsiders are still unconvinced of Owlman’s worth. Alfred steps in and says “Enough.”

We cut to Black Lightning at Anissa’s hospital bed. Anissa is still in a coma. Black Lightning says that he has to go away for a while because of how much he loves Anissa and her sister. Black Lightning says that he is going away to save his daughters’ future. Black Lightning says that he will always be in Anissa’s heart and Anissa will always be in his heart.

We slide back to the Batcave. We see Alfred on the batcomputer. Halo arrives on the scene with her luggage. Alfred says that Halo did not have to arrive at the batcave for another two days. Halo asks Alfred if he minds that she stays here for the next couple of days before the rest of the team arrives. Alfred responds that Halo’s company and her distinctly positive outlook would be much appreciated.

We shift to Geo-Force and Katana in the alley where Geo-Force gutted Deathstroke with Deathstroke’s sword. (See DC Universe: Last Will and Testament) Geo-Force comments that they are both here together because neither of them has any family left alive to say goodbye to. Katana replies that she talks to her family’s spirits every day. Katana asks why they are here in this alley. Geo-Force talks about how this is where gutted Deathstroke.

Geo-Force asks Katana if she would do anything to defeat someone who wanted to steal her soul. Katana answers that she would since in the end our souls are all we have. Geo-Force and Katana then kiss. They then stare at each other. The two heroes then leave the alley.

We cut to Metamorpho split into four versions of himself and driving in a car. They talk about what Metamorpho is signing up for with this newest version of the Outsiders. Metamorpho arrives at Wayne Manor. Metamorpho absorbs his dupes and then enters Wayne Manor.

We slide over to Roy Raymond, Jr. doing his television show. Roy snaps about the idiot tech failing to get the teleprompter to work properly. Roy totally goes into a full blown rant and rages on live television about the incompetent fools that are running the television show. Roy screams that his contract is up in a month anyway. Roy stalks off the set and yells that he quits. We see Roy walking down the hall smiling.

We shift to the Creeper and his alter-ego Jack Ryder engaged in a schizophrenic conversation. Their dialogue is insane. The important part is that they make their way to Wayne Manor to meet up with the rest of the Outsiders.

We cut to Alfred meeting with the Outsiders in the Batcave. Alfred reveals that the enemy is someone that Batman and the Outsiders have been fighting for years. That it has been a peripheral battle. A battle of misdirection. That the Outsiders have never actually fought this enemy face-to-face.

Alfred says that they still do not know who the enemy really is. That the villains that the Outsiders did fight were just decoys who were manipulated and used to divert Batman’s attention from focusing on where the true power lay.

Alfred continues that all of the Outsiders’ old villains Bad Samaritan, Baron Bedlam, Duke of Oil, Blairman’s Force of July, the Masters of Disaster and the Fearsome Five were all just uninformed praetorian guards protecting a Caesar they’d never met or knew existed.

Alfred leads the Outsiders to a rocket housed in the Batcave. Alfred says that the rocket has been retrofitted by Mr. Terrific and John Irons. Alfred tells the Outsiders to climb aboard the rocket.

We cut to Hunkausen, Germany where we see the sleeping villagers awoken by the earth being ripped open. We see several houses being swallowed up and sinking into the ground. End of main story.

We then get an Origins and Omens back-up story. We get a brief re-cap of the origins of each member of the Outsiders. Scar then reads from the Book of the Black. Scar says that the Outsiders will fight and die in this upcoming war. We see a panel with Owlman fighting Alfred. Another panel with Owlman apparently getting killed by an energy beam. We get a panel of Geo-Force fighting Black Lightning. And we see a panel with Deathstroke screaming and two guns blazing. End of issue.

Commentary
The Good: Outsiders #15 was a good read. Batman and the Outsiders has been a total mess since the first issue. This was a wise decision by DC to change the name back to the Outsiders and let Tomasi basically start this title over from scratch. And Tomasi does an excellent job with this re-start issue.

Tomasi tears apart this flagging title and proceeds to construct a brand new foundation. Tomasi wastes no time in laying out for the reader the new mission statement for this team. The reader learns the new way that the Outsiders will operate, their new chain of command and their new purpose.

I dig that Tomasi places Alfred as the new head of the Outsiders. This is a brilliant move. And Tomasi does it in a fashion that gets the reader to buy into this move. Tomasi takes the reader’s skepticism about making “Batman’s butler” the head of a super-team by having the members of the Outsiders echo this concern about Alfred’s qualifications. Alfred’s response that his time spent as an MI-6 intelligence officer and serving as Batman’s aide all these years is more than enough to qualify him for the job of running the Outsiders was spot on. I like having Alfred serving as the eyes and ears of the group and monitoring all the missions from the Batcave.

I also like the new directive of the Outsiders by having them operate like a group of soldiers. That the Outsiders will basically be pulling a tour of duty that will require them to put their personal lives on hold. That the members will go months at a time with no contact to the outside world. This perfectly fits Batman’s view of the Outsiders as his “soldiers” fighting in his war against crime. It was the theme voiced by Batman when he disbanded the Outsiders.

This soldier styled theme for the Outsiders also helps to separate them from DC’s other super teams in the JLA, JSA, Teen Titans, etc. This helps to give the Outsiders their own unique identity within the DCU which is crucial for the success of a super team.

I liked how Tomasi has Alfred mention that each hero chosen by Batman to be a member of the Outsiders represents an aspect of Batman’s character. Geo-Force represents the royalty of Brue Wayne’s high society life. Katana represents Batman’s martial arts philosophy, training and background. Owlman is the detective side of Batman. Black Lightning represents Batman’s integrity. Halo is Batman’s hope for a better world. Metamorpho is Batman’s ability to adapt to any threat. The Creeper is Batman’s insanity that drives him to wage his unyielding war on crime.

Tomasi does his best to make Outsiders #15 new reader friendly so that new readers won’t feel hesitant about jumping onto this title. Tomasi nicely introduces the reader to each of the members of the Outsiders. Tomasi is able to give the reader a sample of each character’s personality and style. And Tomasi does so in a pleasantly concise manner that fits with the flow of the story.

Tomasi also reveals to the reader each character’s motivation and reason for joining the Outsiders. Halo wants to join the team for a family. Katana and Geo-Force out of honor. Black Lightning to protect the future for his children. Metamorpho to be with the old gang and to go on adventures. And Owlman joins because he is clearly looking to prove himself.

Tomasi is a technically sound writer who knows how to craft an issue. I like Tomasi’s philosophy in how to construct a title from the ground up. Tomasi is taking a similar approach to the Outsides that he did with Nightwing when he began to rebuild that title. Tomasi knows that a quality comic book starts with good character work. That it starts with well developed and interesting characters and builds from there.

Tomasi understands that it is vital that a writer perform sound character work before hastily rushing into place intricate plotlines and wild action scenes. If the reader never becomes invested and attracted to the characters then it will be difficult of the title to achieve much reader retention for the following issues.

The dialogue is well crafted. Each character has a nicely developed external voice. Alfred gets the majority of the best dialogue in this issue. I also particularly enjoyed the dialogue Tomasi gives the Creeper. The character work is excellent. Every member of the Outsiders is a well developed character.

I loved how Tomasi wrote Alfred in this issue. This was certainly a bold move by Tomasi to make Alfred the head of the Outsiders. And at first blush, I had to admit that I was skeptical if Tomasi could pull this off. But, Tomasi does so and, more importantly, does so in a manner that is perfectly in line with Alfred’s established personality.

Tomasi does not simply veer Alfred’s personality off in a drastic direction that we have never seen before. Instead, Tomasi naturally builds off of Alfred’s role as an intelligence officer for MI-6 and being a valued aide to Batman for all these years as a logical foundation for Alfred being the eyes and ears of the Outsiders. And given Alfred’s resume, it is understandable that he would possess a no-nonsense and commanding personality.

I liked how matter of fact Alfred is in this issue. Alfred is all business and is in complete control from the very start. Even though Alfred is slipping into Batman’s role with the team as the brains of the organization, Tomasi makes sure to give Alfred his own style. Tomasi shows that while Alfred is certainly similar to Batman is some respects, that the two still have their own distinct styles.

Unlike the Batman, Alfred is not as gruff or rude. Alfred is respectful to the Outsiders and in no way uses guilt or embarrassment to force them to join up with the Outsiders. And unlike Batman, Alfred graciously accepts Halo’s arrival at Wayne Manor two days earlier. Alfred does not share Batman’s love for all that is dark and depressing.

Tomasi assembles a great roster for the Outsiders. We get the classic Outsiders roster from the original team with the addition of the Creeper and Owlman. Owlman is an interesting addition to this team. If this issue is any sign of what is to come then Owlman should provide for some conflict on the team. Owlman is the outsider of the Outsiders. And it is going to take a while for the others to embrace and accept him. This roster of heroes has such a long history together and is actually more of a family than a team. Therefore, it is crucial to have an agitating force within the team to spice things up.

The other new member to the Outsiders is the Creeper and he is the wildcard. Creeper is so unpredictable and it makes it hard to figure out how he is going to operate with this team. I do enjoy how Tomasi handles the Creeper’s insane personality. This character should help make the Outsiders an interesting read.

Tomasi does a fine job showing how Black Lightning arrives at his decision to join the Outsiders in the scene with him at Anissa’s bed. Black Lightning’s hesitation to join the team was realistic and understandable. As was his motivation for joining the team despite his personal sacrifices.

I liked the scene with Geo-Force and Katana. Tomasi does a nice job incorporating the events from DC Universe: Last Will and Testament into this story. I appreciate it when a writer takes the time to try and build off previous storylines. These two characters are similar in the losses that they have suffered. So, it makes sense that these two would fall for each other.

Metamorpho plays the role of comedic relief. A character like Metamorpho is necessary on a team like the Outsiders which has such a dark and serious tone.

Tomasi ends Outsiders #15 with a solid hook ending. We get the stunning reveal that there has been one hidden enemy all along. Tomasi shows off some great research by pulling out all the old Batman and the Outsiders foes. I dig that Tomasi takes these old villains from the original Batman and the Outsiders run and pulls them together as the foundation for a new and even larger foe. This was a nice way of drawing on the past with an eye to the future with something new and different. And it also succeeds in establishing a continuity connection between the original Batman and the Outsiders run with the current version of the Outsiders.

Tomasi reveals the Outsiders’ rocket and that they will be blasting off in it for their first mission. I did not see this coming. And we then saw the mysterious earthquake that ravaged a town in Germany. I am curious to learn more about this development. I cannot wait to see what Tomasi has in store for us next.

Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott combine to deliver some solid artwork. It isn’t anything that is going to blow the reader away. But, the art has a nice clean style that effectively conveys the story. Garbett makes Outsiders #15 an easy to read issue.

The Bad: The main story in Outsiders #15 is a bit slow and gives the reader no action. However, this is an understandable byproduct when the writer has to re-construct the entire title from scratch. Outsiders #15 is basically a first issue of a new title and suffers from the usual pacing problems that many debut issues possess.

I found the Origins and Omens back-up story to be pretty boring. To be fair, I read the old Batman and the Outsiders before and am familiar with all of these characters. So this was largely unnecessary for me. The last page did not excite me that much. The prospect of teammates fighting each other is hardly original or exciting. And I hope that Owlman is not generic cannon fodder since that was my initial reaction to him being placed on this team.

Having said that, this back-up story is a great tool to familiarize new readers to the characters on the Outsiders.

Overall: Outsiders #15 was a quality read. Tomasi makes sure that Outsiders #15 is very new reader friendly. While this title did not boast any action, there is no doubt that Tomasi will end up delivering a balanced read with nice action and good character work. Outsiders #15 is the perfect time for new readers to jump aboard this title. If you like super hero teams and are no satisfied with the tepid reads that DC is giving us with the Justice League of America and Teen Titans then definitely give the Outsiders a try.

4 Comments

  1. In one issue Tomasi (well two counting the special) has done what Dixon and others couldn’t in almost two years of mismanagement. Make the Outsiders matter again and a book worth reading.

    I think Tomasi is becoming one of the best writers at DC in this moment.

  2. I think this title has a lot of potential. I hope DC doesn’t blow it.

    P.S. Black Lightining looked much cooler as a bald superhero.

  3. I think the Outsiders are involutioning with that change. Being in Batman’s nomina has always been a handicap for them, as Wayne treated the team as lackeys. Leaving him was a way to grow up.

    Now they are returning. No private life, no free time. Seems like a punishment. And why? ‘couse a supposedly misterious villain. Of course, they don’t deserve any more info.

    Having Alfred as the team leader is ridiculous. He’s smart, okey. But that thing about “former spy” is unbeliavable. Yeah, he was a top spy, next spend the next 20 years cleaning the manor. Bad times, uh?

    Also Alfred has never done a work like that. He always did support work.

    And I think Batman’s secret identity is in danger by involving Alfred… But if the Outsiders were clever, they would have discovered it 20 years ago.

    Geoforce and Katana affair it’s also forced. And wasn’t that guy married already?

  4. Hi, Rokk,

    Thanks for the quick answer.

    I think when you have to lead many different people with different objectives and agendas, best way is doing like Oracle in Birds of Prey. Give them liberty and help.

    Just saying Geo-Force is married, it appears in wikipedia. Even I can remember his wife (and I’m only 29 years old!).

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