One thing I’ve appreciated about the Outsiders franchise is how it consistently hangs on to certain characters. The latest iteration includes Black Lightning and Katanna, two members of the original team from the 1980s. But I seem to recall anticipating this a few months back, when they were featured in Detective Comics.
The other two members are Orphan and the Signal, two of Batman’s protégés. Seemingly, Batman is determined to provide younger crime fighters with some guidance from C-list veterans, which is damning with faint praise on so many levels. I mean, it’s not as if Bruce Wayne provided the kids with top of the line mentors, suggesting he doesn’t have THAT much faith in anyone’s abilities but his own.
Which is part of what makes this new version so different. Batman treated the original team like his personal Justice League; now, they are costumed operatives who, like many soldiers, perhaps feel expendable. It makes me wonder how longer the Batman part of Batman & the Outsiders will run; again, history repeating itself.
Dexter Soy’s artwork is terrific, as always. In a few panels, I see subtle (or perhaps imaginary) reminders of the work of Jim Aparo, who launched the original Batman & the Outsiders series of the 1980s. But Soy brings his own skills to the party, and makes the pages his own, free from prior influences.
Make no mistake, this series has a different tone than the original, but that may not be a bad thing. I am reminded of something supposedly said at DC Comics in 1979, when Marv Wolfman proposed reviving the Teen Titans. Then-publisher Jenette Kahn asked why, since it had recently failed. According to legend, his response was, “We’ll do it better.” Hopefully that continues to hold true for the Outsiders as well.