|BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS No. 1, July 2019|
True, the super-group’s dynamically-paced battle against the homicidal shootist Saint John provides plenty of pulse-pounding action whilst it lasts, especially when it seems clear that Duke Thomas is intent on hurling himself against the gun-toting maniac simply to show comrade-in-arms Orphan that he is neither afraid nor feels he needs Black Lightning to tackle the mass of murderous muscle blazing away at him with a rotary cannon. However, just as soon as Katana cleaves the brute’s machine-gun and “Raijin” zaps the felon into next week, this book’s plot disappointingly degenerates into little more than a series of word-heavy, dialogue-driven scenes where everyone from Bruce Wayne through to Jefferson Pierce openly discuss some of their most innermost concerns about the freshly assembled team.
Debatably this comic’s biggest frustration though, is the fact that Batman is predominantly kept on the sidelines, disconcertingly directing his proteges to “find Sofia [and] bring her to Gotham” from the shadows, rather than directly leading the Outsiders himself. Indeed, the Caped Crusader doesn’t even appear in costume until the second half of the book, when he is simply depicted ruminating upon the Bat-computer’s suggested action for him to contact the Los Angeles Police Department for more information on Ramos’ disappearance.
Happily, what Hill’s script lacks in gripping drama is somewhat ‘put right’ by Dexter Soy’s marvellously energetic pencilling, which really helps imbue the plot’s more sedentary scenes with some much-needed gravitas and foreboding atmosphere. Black Lightning’s ‘friendly duel’ with Tatsu Yamashiro at her “little place in Gotham” is a good example of this, where the somewhat stilted dialogue between the pair is made all the more tense and enthralling courtesy of the Goodreads Choice Award-nominee’s incredibly thrilling artwork.
|The regular cover art of "BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS" No. 1 by Tyler Kirkham & Arif Prianto|