Or – “Some Call It The Larry Lieber Syndrome…”


Being the resident Major Spoilers comic historian, I can usually find some sort of precedent for most of what happens in comics.  This issue, indeed, this whole TITLE, reminds me of the 1970’s Atlas line of comics, founded by former Marvel publisher Martin Goodman to put his former company out of business.  He hired away many of Marvel’s freelancers, including Stan Lee’s brother Larry Lieber, and started a new line of comics whose characters and situation seemed vaguely familiar…  Most of the titles started out interestingly, but Goodman, desperate to put Marvel out of business insisted on editorial changes, leading to what has become known as the “Third Issue Switch.”  Batman and The Outsiders started out seemingly going one direction, before veering off to give us a new direction, new members, and an entirely different creative team.  As with ’70’s Atlas, it’s only a problem if you liked the old direction better…

BATO1.jpgPreviously, on Batman & The Outsiders:  When Nightwing’s Outsiders team did the old crash and burn, Big Daddy Bruce stepped in to take over.  He brought with him a couple of his old Outsiders (Katana and Geo-Force) and forced the existing team members to go through an excruciating series of “tests” to prove their worthiness to work with him.  A quick flirtation with Martian Manhunter and Catwoman quickly gave way to membership for Green Arrow and Cassandra Cain, the newest Batgirl, and somehow, they’re all in the jungle.  In this, the post-Infinite Crisis era, I thought we were supposed to have a kinder, gentler Batman, but this Bruce Wayne is kind of a high-handed jerk from the get-go.  Especially when you realize that his newest recruits consist of a man whose wife was very nearly murdered by the League of Assassins, and the former HEAD of said League.  Y’know, if he’s so damn smart, why ain’t he rich?  He is?  Wait, um…  Nevermind.  Let’s just get on to the issue… 

In the jungles of French Guiana, Katana, Metamorpho, and Green Arrow have just been introduced to their new recruit, and G.A.’s response is pretty damned cool: an arrow just misses her pointy cowled head, and Arrow nocks a second before anyone can stop him.  “The Bat didn’t mention her when he asked me to this clusterbump,” snarls Oliver, “You don’t belong to the League of Assassins one day and join the Girl Scouts the next!”  Katana slices the next arrow out of the air with her blade, and stands up to Green Arrow with an awesome display of tough-guy talk.  “Your quiver holds only so many arrows…  my blade is lethal so long as I live.”  Oooh, goosebumps.

Back in Gotham (and apparently earlier) Batman tries to figures out what the hell a company called Jardine Industries was doing with a deactivated OMAC unit (and has anybody else noticed that deactivated OMACS are apparently as plentiful as cheesesticks in a daycare?) and why they’re trying to genetically engineer creatures who can’t survive on Earth.  As the Outsiders come to grips with the fact that some of them have spotty backgrounds, Thunder and Grace investigate Jardine, only to find that they’ve rebooted the OMAC into a cooler red configuration, and that they’ve wiped its mind, equating it to an iPod with a playlist cleared.  Granted, not nearly as many peopl are killed by iPods, but anyway…

In the jungle, the Outsiders find a series of rocketships ready to launch (explaining the whole ‘creatures who could only survive in zero gravity’ thing) and Batman is suddenly accosted by a strange couple dressed as tourists.  “Look,” says the man, “this is weird but we’re in a position to help.”  The woman says that Bats doesn’t recognize them, but he smiles (!) and replies, “No, I’d know you anywhere.”  I think, folks, that we’ve just seen the return of Ralph and Susan Dibny… and you heard it here first.  With Daddy Bat out of the picture, Batgirl suddenly sneaks up and accosts Green Arrow, who obligingly tries to skewer her.  It’s an oddly painful scene to watch, as she convinces him to try and kill her “to feel better,” but their battle nearly gets her eaten by a crocodile.  Oliver puts an arrow through it’s head, and smiles.  “Damned if that don’t beat all.  I DO feel better.”  Inside the launch command center, The Jardine people have hired a group of mercenaries (which, I think, include Gunhawk and Gunbunny, whose crazy is much missed) to protect their assets, and as the Outsiders regroup outside the launch site, they call for Batman.  Bruce is already INSIDE the perimeter, and orders them to follow him, unaware that he’s squarely in the sights of Gunhawk…  Will he kill Batman???

Well, of course not.  That’s just silly.  Even so, there’s a nice bit of tension going on here, and the book reads a lot more smoothly on the second perusal, and Julian Lopez’ art is very smooth, aided and abetted by Marta Martinez’ excellent colors.  Chuck Dixon does street-level, non-powered characters better than almost anyone else, and this issue is no exception, with a nice conflict between Green Arrow and Batgirl (though, honestly, her participation feels a bit like pandering to those fans who were angry that she was evil One-Year-Later) a near-miss for a “Hell, Yeah” with Katana stopping the fight, and what I hope is a return by the Ductile Detective and Missus.  On the miss list, though, is the asinine “mindwiped OMAC” bit, (because there’s NO WAY that’ll bite them in the ass…) the strange “alien creatures in a rocketship” thing, and some transitions from past to present that don’t quite work for me.  Overall though, it’s a strong issue, much better than a couple of the “5 of a Kind” crossover, earning a hearty 3 out of 5 stars, and making me reconsider my thoughts about dropping this one from my pull list…



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Sanlear Says
    So Bats is running a consistent 10 on the Bat-Dick scale in this comic, eh? :)

    How is Bats a dick?

    The title has turned out pretty well, I expect some of the rough edges to be cleaned up in upcoming issues but so far so good.

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