One of the first comics I remember reading in high school was the “Looking For Trouble” arc of Nightwing’s Outsiders. Over the years, the team has continued to evolve and serve many purposes. This iteration reunites Kate Kane and Luke Fox for another unique mission of discovery. Specifically, Kelly and Lanzing exploit the opportunity to explore the DC Universe in what could be a new way. Let’s take a look!
Putting The Team Together
Outsiders begins with Luke Fox bringing in Kate Kane from the cold like every spy movie ever. In fact, the cliché goes so far as Luke saying she’s “a hard woman to find.” While her time in “Rhapastan” is largely unknown, Outsiders introduces Kate as a soldier jaded by conflict. Luckily for her, Fox doesn’t want the Batwoman for fighting. Using Bruce Wayne’s fortune, the Fox family plans to “know, catalogue, and manage the consequences” of various artifacts in the DCU. In a way, you could easily compare their pairing to DC’s X-Files with a super-heroic twist.
Furthermore, Fox rounds out the team with a brand new character named “Drummer.” Drummer is Kelly and Lanzing’s peculiar, but gifted metahuman archeologist. Unsurprisingly, their original character gets their name from the literal drumstick they use to “talk to history.” As far as I can tell, the story engine derives from excavations called “excession events” around the world that Fox seeks to handle. Kate seems to run security, Drummer gathers data by tapping on things, and Luke provides the tech. Ironically, the only problem they seem to have is explaining all of this concisely.
“I Handle The Understanding”
Firstly, my biggest glaring issue with the issue is the poor writing and dialogue. Often, the dialogue is unnecessarily messy and unnatural. Despite the book being mostly exposition, I can’t understand half of what they say or why they say it. For example, the wording of statements like “this isn’t some superhero [expletive] around” bothers me to no end! Moreover, you can’t just joke that “spending Bruce Wayne’s money more wisely than him is a tired gag” if you’re literally using said gag. Additionally, they spend a lot of the book overexplaining in an attempt to find the right phrasing to justify the book’s existence. The characters constantly ask for “clarity” and “understanding” that never quite comes together. Incidentally, my explanation of things for my review does a better job compressing the premise than the actual story.
Secondly, the artwork is mostly ugly and plagued with perspective and gesture issues. Outside of the background or vehicles, Robert Carey over renders every character, and uses a messy panel layout composition. None of the figures, nor lettering look professionally drawn. Especially, the use of stained paper providing useless exposition on the country of Rhapastan. Alternatively, the best set piece in the issue involves Batwoman taking down several agents with a blackout smoke grenade. The sequence is a rare moment of interest, despite being a transparent excuse to show off Kate’s skills. Admittedly, Kate’s all-white snowsuit with the fur and Fox’s symbiote-like nanites are the sole cool designs.
The actual plot surrounds the excavation of a mysterious vessel in the artic about to explode. Weirdly enough, it turns out this ship is some kind of multiversal starship housing several human captives. While extremely unclear, Fox and his organization make their way in to identify the ship and stop the entity causing it. Somehow, the cosmic hivemind called “Carrier” possesses the group of captives and Luke tries to free them without having to fight the machine. Suddenly, the situation resolves without warning or a satisfying explanation. The only take away of value is the time the story takes for it’s two leads to spend time with each other. DC doesn’t explore their friendship often, but the pairing feels right after the CW Batwoman television series.
- You don’t mind aesthetic over story.
- A fan of Batwing or Batwoman.
- You’ve been hoping the Outsiders return in some form.
Overall, this is an extremely messy first issue. The series hook is weak, the dialogue is cliché, and the artwork is isn’t all too good. However, some of the designs like Batwoman’s snowsuit or Batwing’s nano suit are appealing. Unfortunately, this book is generally ugly and hard to read. Personally, the Outsiders have always been hard to find a way to fit in. With a more coherent direction, this overlooked team and underrepresented characters may have had a chance. Ultimately, the potential is still there, but depends on far clearing writing and artwork.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.