There were many disappointing aspects of Gotham War. One of them was how it did nothing to provide momentum for the new Outsiders series. That’s with all the promotional material for the new Batwoman and Batwing-led Outsiders being centered around it launching of the back of Gotham War. That makes Outsiders #1 have to work even more to sell what its concept will be. Let’s find out with Outsiders #1.
Writers: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Artist: Robert Carey
Colorist: Valentina Taddeo
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
“EXPLORE THE FORGOTTEN CORNERS OF DC’S MULTIVERSE WITH BATWOMAN AND LUKE FOX! A universe of secrets is about to come to light. Batman protects Gotham City from evil. Batman Inc. protects the rest of the known world. But what of the unknown world? What of the ancient evils in hidden tombs and forgotten tragedies from a magic-and-mad-science fueled super-heroic century?
Using his fortune, Luke Fox launches a new organization dedicated to shining light into the world’s darkest corners. His first recruit: Kate Kane, the Batwoman—who will re-embrace her military background to protect Luke’s dream and encounter every bit of strangeness the DCU has to offer. And just wait until you meet the Third Man…or learn what universe-shattering secret they’ve discovered buried under Antarctica.
Outsiders is the return of comic book archaeology, digging into all the forgotten corners of DC’s history to preserve, record, and better understand the true nature of the DC Multiverse…and the forgotten stories that make up its fabric.” – DC Comics
Given the scope of the new Outsiders now being a team dealing with Multiverse threats it was smart to not have Kate Kane or Luke Fox dwell on the events of Gotham War. Since they weren’t even involved in the event whatsoever it would come across as fake that Gotham War was the true driver of this new Outsiders forming. This needed to be about Kate and Luke doing their own thing in the DC Universe and that’s exactly what Outsiders #1 is.
Most importantly, Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly creating a full story in Outsiders #1 instead of making this part one of a story arc was the best choice they could make. Kate and Luke haven’t been given much of a spotlight during Infinite Frontier and Dawn of DC era. At best they’ve been supporting characters for other Batman characters.
It was important that this first issue established where Kate and Luke are right now. They’ve been through a lot that just resetting them would’ve gone against the idea of continuity mattering for Dawn of DC. Lanzing and Kelly address this with how they mention Kate operating more as a mercenary when Luke finds her. And similarly, Luke, along with his father Lucius, partially being motivated by how things went south with Jace Fox was a good set up. Like with the tie-in to Gotham War, these mentions where kept to form the foundation and not the complete focus of the story.
This all helped to establish the Outsiders not operating as a superhero team. Luke and Lucious vision for this version of the Outsiders is more of a mercenary group tackling great DCU threats. That makes Kate being the first person they go to make even more sense. Her military training and her superhero experience makes her ideal for this type of work. Which we see with how Kate takes out the ARGUS agents who are hunting her within minutes of them finding her.
While the concept of the Outsiders is put over well Lanzing and Kelly run into issues of inconsistencies with their writing of Kate and Luke. There are moments where their experience writing Marvel titles really shows with how they try to make Kate and Luke quippy. In these moments you are taken out of a story that should’ve stuck to the cool Multiverse mystery the Outsiders are tackling.
This particularly hurts Drummer’s introduction. Kate’s commentary does Drummer no favors to get over as a new character. Kate’s comments are your first perception of Drummer. Because of that you are not fully bought into Drummer being the character to be part of this team. Especially when you consider other options Luke could’ve gone to that has more ties to the DC Multiverse or previous Outsiders teams.
Though to Lanzing and Kelly credit telling a full story in Outsiders #1 helped to balance out some of these issues they run into. The scope of the Outsiders work is sold well. Which is needed since the Outsiders and Multiverse aren’t things you connect with one another. There is still work to be done on selling the entire concept behind this series but taking a one-shot style approach to storytelling is the right way to start off.
Robert Carey’s artwork is very inconsistent throughout Outsiders #1. It may have been due to the change of settings but there are many moments where it looks as though there was multiple artists working on this comic book. It’s too bad because Carey definitely starts off strong with the intro. Batwoman comes across as a badass with how she deals with the ARGUS soldiers. More consistency on the art side of things will go a long way to helping this series moving forward.
The Outsiders #1 does exactly what it needed to do to sell its Multiverse concept led by Batwoman and Batwing. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly showed a good basic understanding of the characters and concept. They do have to shake their Marvel training and remember they are now working in the DC Universe. Hopefully with more experience writing in the DCU and keeping up the one-shot style story format Outsiders can become a strong addition to the Batman franchise offerings.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10