The allure of ensemble-level, team-up books like Justice League, or in this case Batman and the Outsiders, lies with two factors: team chemistry and strength of villain. Where most individual titles can effectively explore a character’s identity and complexities, a two-issue run is not the place to do it. Convergence was billed as a Mortal Kombat, Battle Royale, free-for-all battle with our favorite heroes on display against classic villains. To be honest, I don’t care what they’ve been up to for the past year. I’m a Neanderthal. Get to the fighting, something this issue never does.
With the sheer number of characters populating this book, the paneling jumps between the members of the Outsiders as they go about their daily lives. It definitely keeps the reader focused on the team, but we are only given brief glimpses into their lives post-superpowers. One cool aspect of Marc Andreyko’s is Bruce’s referring to the Outsiders as his soldiers. It brought back shades of epics like No Man’s Land and a pre-New 52 Batman, and was one of those little things that I really liked about Bruce’s mentality. Another interesting aspect is that Bruce seems mentally defeated, telling Alfred that he has no clues to solve the dome problem.
Putting it nicely, the Outsiders have become ordinary citizens bordering on sympathetic. Geo-Force is basically Mr. Furious from Mystery Men, using his rage to make him strong and working as a costumed construction worker. Black Lightning still wears his costume as well and works to install solar-energy collectors. Katana is working with Dr. Thompkins and looking after Halo. The only one who seems happy is Metamorpho, who has settled down with Sapphire Stagg and has established some kind of normalcy. Watching them manage their daily lives is a heartbreaking exercise, but Andreyko’s story does little to set itself apart from the other Convergence storylines.
While the solicitations promise a battle between the Outsiders and OMAC, the villain isn’t even revealed until the last page. This choice of villain might not be just a coincidence or an attempt at an interesting crossover. An OMAC was featured in the 2008 run of the Outsiders, where a member of the OMAC corps had its memory wiped and was left in the care of the Justice League. What we get in this issue is a de-helmeted OMAC soldier, complete with the trademark eye across his chest, leading a massive horde of mutants from the Great Disaster. Where this issue was heavy on the character development and interaction, next issue looks like it’ll be little more than a full-blown melee for the Outsiders’ city.
The majority of the artwork is left in the care of Carlos D’Anda. D’Anda gives the reader a number of strong splash pages, but most of the issue follows the split-panel format mentioned before. It is a good effect when it comes to showcasing every character, though it makes for a monotonous read at times. A number of times the artwork itself left much to be desired. Batman’s face looks awkward at times, especially during his conversation with Alfred. Vibrant coloring by Gabe Eltaeb serves the story well. The scene when the Outsiders regain their powers is lively and exciting in a way that other issues have failed to do. It made me eager to see their powers in action, though it seems that that will have to wait until next issue.
Choosing this particular iteration of Batman and his allies was probably a bad idea from the start. Limiting a story to two issues does not allow for proper development of an entire cast of characters. Also, not introducing a villain until the very end of the first issue is probably not a good way to build tension of any kind. While fans of the original Outsiders run may find some kind of solace in seeing how the team members have dealt with their time under the dome, I don’t think anyone else will be able to find real enjoyment in this issue.
- Nothing “spoilerable” happens.
Favorite Quote: “I may be a detective, but even the best detectives need clues.” – Bruce Wayne
- You’re a fan of the original Batman and the Outsiders
- You want some light-hearted humor
- You want to collect all the Convergence issues
Overall: While a valiant attempt at trying to capture the nostalgia of an earlier, more popular series, this issue unfortunately falls flat. Without enough time to build characters that new readers can relate to or bring in a compelling villain, there is little appeal for anyone who hasn’t read the original Outsiders run. Expect next issue to be little more than an all-out battle.