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Scarlett Letters – Batman and the Outsiders Reviewed



Posted by Steve

Amie (aka ScarlettLynn) is back with another review.  This time it’s her take on the Batman and the Outsiders Special One Shot Special taking place in the aftermath of Batman R.I.P.  Can anything good come out of R.I.P.?  Read on to find out:

705949_batmanoutsidersspec001_super.jpgBatman’s sort of dead right now. It’s a long story and if you’ve attempted to read “R.I.P.” or “Final Crisis” then you’ll know it’s not the clearest of stories either. Basically all you need to know is that as far as many members of the DCU are concerned, Batman’s gone to that great big cave in the sky. (Sort of.) That means that things are definitely in flux for the team known as the Outsiders and it might be a good place to jump onto the series if you’re interested.
The team that comprised the Outsiders during the current run of “Batman and the Outsiders” has basically fallen apart. But if there’s one thing that Bruce Wayne has always been… it’s prepared. The man always has a plan. And a plan if that plan doesn’t work. And a backup plan. And a secondary backup plan to backup the backup plan. Bruce never believed he was immortal and he’s planned accordingly for the day that Grant Morrison’s acid trip would leave him (sort of) dead.
The story opens with Alfred at the graves of Thomas and Martha Wayne. He’s mourning the loss of Bruce, not just as a friend or employee but as a fellow parent. Later, Alfred is awoken by an automated message from Bruce in the event of his death. Were I a guy I might feel the need to explain that I shed a few “man-tears”. Luckily, however, I am a girl and am therefore at liberty to cry at commercials or whatever else I’d like, so I can just say that I cried at this exchange. These are a few very heartfelt pages and as someone who has always enjoyed the character of Alfred in his many incarnations they are completely welcome.
Then it’s back to business and Bruce begins to explain to Alfred the reasons behind his forming The Outsiders and the current task he’s asking Alfred to undertake. Long before this current incarnation of the Outsiders there had been a “Batman and the Outsiders” back in the 80s. Bruce’s first order of business is to have Alfred put the old band back together and round up that original team with a few new additions.
We follow Alfred’s journey as he travels the world to bring together Geo-Force, Roy Raymond Jr., Black Lightning, Halo, Katana, Metamorpho and Creeper. I’ve only had limited exposure to the character of Creeper but from what I can tell he makes Jim Carry in “The Mask” appear like a stoic narcoleptic. It’s at this point I wondered if perhaps Bruce had recorded that message while sampling some of Grant Morrison’s stash and was only moments away from putting on the Technicolor-Batsuit-of-Crazy but instead I’ve chosen to trust he had his reasons.
During Bruce’s message to Alfred he alluded to why he “really started The Outsiders” and “why they’re needed now most of all.” We didn’t get filled in on those details but it’s likely to have something to do with the scenes that finish out this issue. Elsewhere, wherever that may be, we see a very creepy assemblage of… oh, let’s call them… “people” gathered together in a semi-circle as a man climbs some stairs from “the depths”. He’s apparently been there for 52 years and can no longer fulfill his duties as “Thrasher”. The guy is quite literally torn up about this fact and a really unappetizing banquet ensues. Whatever comes next for the team it seems that these folks are going to be in their future.

STORY: 3 1/2 out of 5 – I like getting into a story on the ground floor and that’s exactly what this special issue feels like. When the next issue of this series comes out it’s going to simply be called “The Outsiders” instead of “Batman and the Outsiders”. Picking up with issue #15 we’re going to follow the team we watched get assembled here and I like that they’ve provided a nice, smooth access point for the series.
There’s a few mysteries put into play with this issue. We see a new Owlman on the cover with the rest of the group but he’s nowhere in the actual issue leaving a question as to who that character is. The purposes behind the mysterious group at the end are left very vague, as is how much Bruce actually knew about them.
I’m not very familiar with most of the characters that make up this team. And there wasn’t much here yet to make me really care about what happens to them next. Although I think they all got a good, brief introduction it feels as though it might take a couple of issues to really get a stake in the characters. For me, the appeal of this series is definitely going to be Alfred. Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth is a great character and I am really looking forward to see him work with, or even run, the Outsiders.
The heart of this issue is the goodbye between Bruce and Alfred. Despite all the things I didn’t enjoy about “R.I.P.” and the death of Bruce Wayne, I have been an absolute sucker for the fallout. A bunch of writers are telling some really compelling stories about Gotham after Batman and this one, by Peter J. Tomasi, was definitely one of them.

ART: 4 out of 5 – From the bats flying through, above and around every page to the unique layouts given to each character’s introduction – I though the art was really solid throughout this issue. I especially liked the very narrow, very tall slivered panels for the character of Katana – evoking her sword with every glimpse of her. I also really liked the quick look at the classic Outsiders team. (Oh, Black Lightning… how you must regret that groovy super-suit.)

COVER: 4 out of 5 – I really liked this cover. All the faces of the team members being placed to form the bat is symbolic of all of these people being brought together to help fill the void left by Batman. The image is still fractured and unfinished as the team has not yet fully come together. Aside from that it also just looks cool. Plus if you happen to look really closely at the hand (or more specifically the cufflink) in the picture then it actually gave a little preview to the story within.

Alfred: “And though it will not provide your spirits any solace, I want you to know that I grieve as a parent… for he was my son too.”
Bruce: “I always thought you were like a father to me, but I was wrong… you’re not like a father — You are my father, Alfred.”

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