I keep hearing from people that work within the industry that DC Comics wants to create “classic” stories that can serve as evergreen trades that people continuously turn to (think Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Long Halloween, etc). Knowing that, I can’t help but want to hold up issues of Batman & the Outsiders and scream, “HELLO!?!?! It’s right here! Why aren’t you pushing this book!?” Because, let’s face it, if there’s one main-stream, non-Black Label book that’s killing it… It’s Bryan Hill and Dexter Soy’s Batman & the Outsiders.

The Story

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again… It’s clear Bryan Hill had a plan coming into this, and despite a few hiccups/ interference early on, he’s weathered the storm, stuck to his plan, and delivered one hell of a book! With him nearly every step of the way, Dexter Soy has matched or elevated every aspect of Hill’s scripts, and we have a wonderful arc that has balanced characterization, action, and plot beautifully. This issue continues that trend.

Last month, we left off with Black Lightning and Lady Shiva being confronted by Ishmael, Kaliber, and Karma. It was a moment that made me say, “Oh $#!%” because the odds were definitely stacked against our hero. The final page of that issue made me say, “Oh $#!%” again as the remainder of the Outsiders (Katana, Orphan, and Signal), showed up to provide support. The ending promised a knock-down, drag-out battle, and I was pissed that I’d have to wait a month to read it.

So, naturally, with my excitement still in tow, this book was at the top of my read pile today, and man is it an absolute delight! That big fight I just mentioned? Yeah, we get it in all of it’s glory! It’s the Outsiders versus Ra’s’ assassins. You’ve got Black Lightning squaring off against Ishmael. Katana going toe to toe with Kaliber. And then there’s Orphan and Signal heading into a rematch with Karma. And then, on top of it all, you have the x-factor of Lady Shiva, who has no real alliance to either team, but you know she’s going to insert herself in one way or another.

Hill and Soy deliver glorious action with high stakes. It results in an incredibly quick read, but the good kind of quick read. When you finish the book, you don’t feel like you were cheated an experience, because everything has been built up so well, and it manages a nearly perfect landing. This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill, standard comic book action. No, this is well-thought, and there are multiple payoffs because Bryan Hill took the time to establish the story properly. These fights are personal, and they resonate with you. I’m not going to give any more away because you really deserve to experience the book, just know that it’s fantastic.

If you’re wondering about Batman, he continues the same mission he had in last month’s issue – getting Sofia to a good place mentally so she can decide what she wants to do with her life. There does seem to be a bit of a contradiction in Batman’s choices from the last issue concerning Sofia’s desire to become a hero, but it’s a minor mishap. More than anything, I’m happy to see that Sofia is being set-up for future plots. She’s easily one of the best characters that’s been introduced in the past year, and there’s still so much to explore with her.

Finally, there’s Ra’s al Ghul. I’ve praised the use of Ra’s in this book since the beginning, and that continues here. His depiction in Batman & the Outsiders is easily the best and most brutal depiction I’ve seen of him in a long time, if not ever. I’d dare say that it is perfect. Yes, I said perfect! Hill has proven that he has a strong understanding of Ra’s, his mission, how he operates, and what truly makes him a threat, and he’s run with it. This issue delivers one of Ra’s most devastating blows yet, and considering where all of this takes place, I predict it will lead to the introduction of another well-known character soon. Until then, go catch up on this book because it deserves all of your money!

The Art

Dexter Soy gets to let his hair down with this issue, and you can tell he had quite a bit of fun with it. This is an action-heavy issue, so it takes a strong artist to deliver the beats of the story properly. He manages to cover a lot of ground with multiple bouts occurring at once, and never do I feel slighted by any of the action. I mean, do I want more pages so I can fully see this fight unfold? Yeah! But there are limitations concerning page count, and Soy manages to capture the perfect moments in each bout to satisfy what readers are looking for.

Recommended if

  • Dexter Soy delivers the action!
  • You like stories that build a foundation and provide a payoff.
  • It’s one of the best books on the stands right now! Go get it!

Overall

Bryan Hill and Dexter Soy continue to deliver some top-notch storytelling with Batman & the Outsiders. I know it’s been my go-to phrase when I think a creative team is killing it, but this is some serious masterclass work here and it’s a shame more people aren’t talking about it. This issue delivers one hell of a fight, some additional plot/ character development, and establishes some threads that should carry into the next arc! Again… This is some masterclass work!

SCORE: 8.5/ 10