Batman and the Outsiders Special #1

The aftermath of "Final Crisis" begins to leave its thumbprint on the DC Universe here. With the passing of Batman, Alfred is summoned to do his master's bidding once more. This special serves as a launching point for a new direction and a new purpose for the Outsiders. A number of previous Outsiders return, as well as some new characters finding their paths leading across those of the deceased Dark Knight.

This issue is well placed as a #1, as it marks the beginning of something very exciting in the DCU. The "Outsiders" title has been much maligned of late, with reboots and creative cast shifting like sand. With this issue, Peter Tomasi climbs into the writer's chair and offers his take on who should be an Outsider, with a couple intriguing additions. We've all seen the solicits and the covers with Owlman making an appearance. While Owlman's only appearance here is on the cover, it doesn't take the deductive skills of Bruce Wayne (or even Tim Drake) to discern the alter ego of the man under the mask following a read of this issue.

Tomasi does a great job of globetrotting through the DCU, grabbing a character here and another from somewhere over there. Through Alfred, we see Japan, Markovia, Chicago, Keystone City, Kahndaq, and New Orleans, gathering cast and steam along the way. While most of this issue is introductory and serves as a call to arms for the new team, Tomasi doesn't allow the story to trickle nor plod. The story reads quickly, but with great detail. The characters gathered seem like a diverse cast with great story potential between and around them.

The art here is just short of brilliant. All too often, artists forget that a comic book doesn't always have to be a page broken down into equidistant gridlines and gutterspaces. Adam Kubert takes that freedom and runs like Wally West on crack. The entire issue is designed as spreads, with all save the first and last pages reading across the book. True, there is some distortion to the art due to gutter loss, but for the most part, the gutter does not interfere too terribly. Additionally, the shadow of Batman -- in the form of bats -- flits and flutters throughout the book, acting as a unifying theme, a subtle reminder, and a foreboding omen. Check it out in the preview right here. The Kuberts' time exclusive to DC may have been marred with delays and shortcomings, but this issue is one to marvel at. It is a shame Adam won't be back for more with the Outsiders.

DC played a masterful hand by electing to run the ads at the end, instead of breaking the rhythm of this story. In all, this book is a great read, even though there is a lack of nail-biting action. While there is not a great threat, there are thirty pages of story and the promise of action to come quickly and definitively once this team makes the jump into the continuing "Outsiders" series.

Of all the books bearing the increasingly-popular $3.99 sales tag, I feel this book has come the closest to rewarding me for my investment.

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