Batman and the Outsiders #1: Critical Analysis

Over the next few days, I'm gonna be posting a page-by-page analysis of Batman and the Outsiders #1 (and by analysis, I mean snarky jokes, of course) because I figure I can justify my purchase of the Showcase Presents collection if I post about it enough. Now it wouldn't be true to say that Outsiders is the worst team book ever. Just the presence of Jim Aparo on pencils and inks takes away THAT title, but there's plenty to dislike.

And note that I'm going through the stories in the same order as the Showcase, so while the Outsiders first appeared in one of those preview book inserts (in Brave and the Bold #200), that story actually occurs fourth from the characters' point of view.

So ok, let's start with that cover. It's a classic split-down-the-middle cover à la Flash of Two Worlds, and that always works for me, but we're off on the wrong foot if you want us to like these guys. Don't raise yourself up by bringing the other guys down, man!Of course considering that this is the Gerry Conway JLA, Batman may just be in the right to say the team sucks. Elongated Man was always more or less a joke. Superman and Wonder Woman were heading for a major reboot in about 4 years, the Flash was going to wind up dead, and Firestorm was... well, Firestorm. But "two-bit"? That's pretty harsh.

But what's interesting is the equivalence between the two teams. Who is Batman replacing with who here? Is Metamorpho a proxy for Elongated Man or Firestorm? Katana must be Wonder Woman (ethnically-derived woman warrior), Black Lightning must be the Flash (same symbol), and Geo-Force must be Superman (laughably, but they're the jeunes premiers with all the muscles). That leaves Halo, who is obviously closer to Firestorm (multiple identities and blaster powers), which yeah, equates the coolest character there with the lamest on the other side.

The New DC... There's no stopping us now. So don't even think about it.


H said...

Excellent idea for a Geekery feature. I indexed these on the Treadmill back in 2004 and it will be interesting to compare notes.

I thought it was a solid "entry level" super-hero comic, but it was instantly forgettable and the word "Outsiders" baffled me as there was nothing Outsidery about the team at all.

The most interesting thing I learned after the fact was that Mike Barr says that the direction of the title as published was far different from his original idea and he credits Marv Wolfman and Frank Miller for the changes. I've never been able to find any more detail on that topic though.

Siskoid said...

Frank Miller of all people? I wonder what the connection is. And I mean, he wrote the stuff so he should just fess up to it. He at the very least allowed himself to be influenced by other parties.

But concept and team composition aside, there's some outrageously bad writing in the first 3 issues (which is up to where I read). But some good stuff too, to be fair.

We'll certainly see.

Matthew Turnage said...

I bought B&B 200 off the stands when I was 7 (my introduction to Earth-2, incidentally) and I read the early issues of BATO. As a 7 year old, I loved it, but when I went back and started fishing some of the early issues out of the dollar bins around the time the current Outsiders series started, I sadly discovered it was one of those books that just doesn't hold up (Jim Aparo aside, of course). It will be fun watching your take. Maybe I'll dig out my early issues and follow along (I think I've got the first 8 or so).

But don't put down the Conway era League. Best line-up ever!

Anonymous said...

With the proper distance behind us, the expressions on their faces are priceless. Flash in particular looks utterly dumbfounded and shocked for some reason, and Wonder Woman looks like she might cry. Or vomit.

And I think they're "Outsiders" because Batman's leaving the team that two of his new partners refused to join. They're all (and this might be part of the Miller influence) supposed to be lone wolves. Two non-joiners, one to-be-non-joiner, a prince in exile, a samurai, and an amnesiac.

None of which should excuse it, of course.

Siskoid said...

It's my line-up too (except Red Tornado, I mean, come on). The digs are really at Gerry Conway who seemed quite serviceable when I was a kid, but to which time has been rather unkind.

rob! said...


youre going to go on a tear about how bad BATO was? BATO WAS AWESOME!! sure, it had its very goofy moments but i always liked Barr's hard-nosed take on Batman, and i think there are some later issues (#19's "Who's Afraid of the Big Red S?") that are bona-fide classics.

even as a kid tho, i wondered what universe tha cover came from, because nothing like that happens in the book, and Batman is acting very un-Batman-like. and Metamorpho and Lightning can kiss their annual JLA Xmas party invites goodbye!

Siskoid said...


Just for fun I assure you, Rob, and I'll give credit where credit is due. I could probably take any superhero team book from the early to mid 80s and do the same thing, cuz that was just the style back then.

But someone else is doing Conway's JLA (Random Happenstance) and I wouldn't be caught dead with an issue of Infinity Inc., so the Outsiders it is.

Bauble said...

I actually bought the first 5 issues of Batman and The Outsiders when I was 9. I was a regular reader of Brave and the Bold and this was it's replacement.

I must admit that the cover really got to me. I was like "Batman no longer with JLA, what the heck?". My favorite was Halo, when Batman and she meet for the first time he says something like "You look weak, when was the last time you had food?" Her response was "food? what's food?". There you go!

In all I was a Jim Aparo fan during that time. Along with Steve Ditko, Dick Giordano, John Romita JR and SR, Curt Swan and several other old school artists. I would love for them to go back to that time where flashy artwork was non-existent and dialogue bubbles where actually more than two per page.


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