DC Comics has finally confirmed that they will be launching a new Batman and the Outsiders series last week, spinning out from the current stories in Detective Comics. Longtime fans of The Outsiders already suspected something was in the offing, given the title of Detective Comics #983-987, "On The Outside," and the prominent return of Black Lightning, a founding member of the original Outsiders.
Current Detective Comics writer Bryan Edward Hill and Red Hood and the Outlaws artist Dexter Soy will be teaming up to reinvent the team and make them a part of the Rebirth era at DC Comics. There are not too many details available on what their series will focus on yet, besides the initial lineup of original Outsiders Batman, Black Lightning, and Katana, along with two newcomers Orphan and Signal.
The Outsiders have a long history as a team at DC Comics though, one that could provide some important hints on what readers should expect. While some fans might have seen this coming, we've assembled a quick starter's guide for any new readers interested in discovering The Outsiders for the very first time.
Batman With The Outsiders
The Outsiders were created by two stalwart creators of the Bronze Age: writer Mike W. Barr and artist Jim Aparo. They made their debut in the final issue of long-running series The Brave and The Bold #200 before being given their own series, Batman and The Outsiders, later in 1983. The group originated as a response to the Justice League's increasing role in global politics, a group that could do what the high-profile League could not. It began when Batman resigned his place on the Justice League when they refused to become involved with a war in the fictional country of Markovia. Batman, joined by Black Lightning, sought to resolve the conflict and encountered the rest of the founding members of The Outsiders along the way: Metamorpho, Katana, Geo-Force, and Halo.
This collection of superheroes was notable for multiple reasons. They were primarily new or revitalized creations with only Batman proving to be a popular character for readers at the time. This also allowed the team to take on a different sort of story, often focusing on smaller stakes or morally gray areas avoided by the Justice League at this time. They battled several teams of supervillains or rogue superheroes of similar stature during this time, including the Masters of Disaster and Force of July. It was the war in Markovia that brought the team together that also led to their initial disbanding. After discovering that Batman had withheld disturbing updates regarding Markovia from them, the team left their founder behind and began to act on their own.
The Outsiders Beyond Batman
There have been four volumes of The Outsiders launched since the cancellation of the original Batman and The Outsiders. The first two volumes only ran for 28 and 24 issues a piece, and functioned primarily as continuations of the story began by Barr and Aparo. While there were some additions and losses, the core of the team remained largely intact with Geo-Force remaining a leader for the team and Katana and Halo being present in both incarnations.
After the second volume was cancelled in 1995, it took almost a decade before a third volume was launched in 2003. This series ran for 50 issues (the longest run of any Outsiders series to date) and reimagined the team as a more mature update on the Teen Titans. The assembled heroes were all young adults with many of the dramatics trappings expected from that age group. It was also the first version of the team to have almost no contact with Batman, establishing it as a team not inherently connected to its founder. The series was once again relaunched for a fourth volume with only founding members Batman and Metamorpho returning. It was relabeled following the events of "Batman R.I.P." and canceled before the New 52 relaunch.
Following the New 52 relaunch the Outsiders disappeared from DC Comics almost entirely. Some of the founding members, including Metamorpho, Katana, and Halo, were assembled in Batman, Inc. where they were led by Red Robin before being seemingly killed by Lord Death Man. The name was reused in the New 52 run of Green Arrow by writer Jeff Lemire who imagined the group as a collection of ancient clans defined by primal weapons.
The most notable appearance of The Outsiders in a recognizable form came during the multiversal event "Convergence," where the original team was given a two-issue miniseries calling back the tone and style of Barr and Aparo's series. The formation of this team has been reestablished in DC Comics continuity as part of the Dark Days: The Forge prologue to the "Metal" event.
While any current reader of DC Comics undoubtedly knows who Batman is, it's worth taking a brief look at his newest collection of Outsiders who will found the newest incarnation of the team later this year.
Black Lightning: Created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden in Black Lightning #1. Jefferson Pierce is an educator engaged in public policy by day and an electricity-controlling vigilante by night. He has been both a mentor and leader within his various incarnations to date and was reintroduced in Detective Comics to help guide younger heroes in Gotham City.
Katana: Created by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo in The Brave and The Bold #200. Tatsu Yamashiro wields a legendary sword, the Soultaker, with a variety of magical effects. She is a deadly fighter trained with both the sword and in hand-to-hand combat. Katana has also recently spent extended time working with the Rebirth incarnation of the Suicide Squad.0comments
Orphan: Created by Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott in Batman (vol. 1) #567. Cassandra Cain is the daughter of renowned assassin David Cain who raised her to speak only through her actions in order to create a child even deadlier than himself. She was rescued by Batman and his allies who taught her to become a hero, carrying various titles over the years including Batgirl, but now going by the name Orphan.
Signal: Created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in Batman (vol. 2) #21. Duke Thomas was raised in Gotham City, providing assistance to Batman during the Zero Year crisis, and later becoming his newest ward after his parents were driven made during the events of "End Game." Thomas recently learned that he possesses superpowers that allow him to perceive and analyze light in unique ways, leading him to take up the new mantle of The Signal.