“The Outsiders” have had a bit of a rough ride over the last year. After 49 issues, series writer Judd Winick left the book, and big changes were announced for the series. Batman would join the cast, five one-shots would shuffle the membership, and Tony Bedard would close out the series with #50 and write the brand-new “Batman and the Outsiders”.
No sooner had Bedard assembled his new team of characters, though, than DC Comics announced that Bedard was off the book, and “Batman and the Outsiders” would now be written by Chuck Dixon — and the first thing Dixon did was bring in his own cast of characters and shuffle the majority of Bedard’s out of the series. There’s nothing quite like having an entire storyline undone the second it ends, really. But now that Dixon’s written “Batman and the Outsiders” for six months, it seems like a safe enough time to really take a look at the book.
In many ways, it’s not that dissimilar to Winick’s four-year run on “The Outsiders”, with the team operating outside the law and trying to stop things before they happen instead of waiting until afterwards. They’re close enough in concept that it makes you wonder why there was really a need to re-brand the series (aside from the potential sales benefits of a new #1 and having Batman’s name in the title). From what I’d read of Winick’s “The Outsiders” title, though, it was certainly punchier and faster-moving than Dixon’s “Batman and the Outsiders”. We’re six issues into the book and not only is the first story-arc still in progress, but it’s showing no real signs of a conclusion. It comes across as a little plodding and slow, and all the characters seem to speak with the same voice — everyone from Geo-Force and Green Arrow to Grace and Katana has identical sarcastic quips and wry comments tossed back and forth. In many ways it’s less a group of characters and more a group of powers thrown into the mix.
Carlos Rodniguez’s pencils are good if not spectacular; he’s at his best drawing Metamorpho, with his body patterning and odd, not-quite-human appearance. In some ways one can’t help but wish that all the characters in the book were not human, because if so the script would play to his strength a bit more. Unfortunately, the rest of the characters don’t fare quite as well. He’s certainly quite good with faces, but the actual body types seem to either end up as slim, or large and muscular. The characters are supposed to be super-heroes, but seeing people whose powers have nothing to do with physical strength (like Geo-Force) sporting six-pack abs gets a little old and actually a bit distracting.
For people who are fans of the current cast of “Batman and the Outsiders”, I can imagine this must be a thrilling series to have all of their favorites gathered into one place. For readers who aren’t particularly invested in them, though, it’s more than a bit dull — not the best way to draw in new readers, unfortunately. In the end, it’s just not as exciting as it should be.