Riddle me this:Â When is Batman and the Outsiders not Batman and the Outsiders?
The answer of course Dear Reader, is when the issue features neither Batman nor the Outsiders.Â But there in lies the juicy bits of the issue.Â With the â€œdeathâ€ of Batman, there has been chaos throughout Gotham City.Â And while there are those that are scrambling to fill in the void, there are few who are willing to step up with a new plan.Â Someone like Batmanâ€™s daughter.
- Batgirl #6 (of 6)
- Nightwing #150
- Batman and the Outsiders #13
- Robin #181
- Batman and the Outsiders #14
The tales spun across these issues tell of how Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) became Bruce Wayneâ€™s adopted daughter, how Nightwing moved back to Gotham, why a mysterious shadow might have been Robin in his Red Robin guard, and why Batgirl would kidnap/recruit Edward Nigma into her new â€œnetworkâ€ a.k.a. The New Outsiders.
Normally, Iâ€™m all gung-ho about tie-in issues to a series, especially if that series is a really good one.Â Since Iâ€™m a sucker for all things Batman, and an even greater champion of Batgirl, I did have the privilege of reading the Batgirl six-issue mini-series that concluded this week with Bruce adopting Cassandra into the family.Â That revelation explains why she was so cavalier last issue in scoping out potential candidates for her group of Outsiders, and why Nightwing isnâ€™t too keen on the idea.Â Frankly, Iâ€™m surprised Bruce didnâ€™t offer to adopt Cassandra years ago.Â It certainly would have made the transition from the cancellation of her last title to her reappearance as a â€œbad girlâ€ in the Robin One Year Later story line much easier.
In any case, her latest recruit is Edward Nigma, the man who claims he will discover what happened to Batman. Even though The Riddler is supposedly reformed, Nightwing doesnâ€™t think itâ€™s her responsibility or right to choose the members of the team. I think Dick is going through some kind of weird sibling rivalry over his new family members.Â First he had to put up with Tim being brought in as his brother, and now he has a new sister to fight for affections from daddy dear.Â Top that with the fact that he formed the Outsiders before Batman took it out from under him, and now his kid sis is trying to do the same again.
As with any brother sister duo that canâ€™t get along, some kind of fight is going to break out, and this one is a doozy.Â The art by Ryan Benjamin presents the fight in panel after panel of close up face kicks, body blows, and elbow jabs to the head.Â Itâ€™s a great blow for blow sequence that looks like a combination of Enter the Dragon and Raging Bull.
With the father figure out of the pictures, itâ€™s time for someone else to step in and put an end to the fighting.Â When the Batmobile pulls up and the silhouette of a figure steps out, I had thought it would be Robin dressed in his Red Robin outfit. Instead, it turns out to be the next ranking officer in charge of Batmanâ€™s army; butler Alfred Pennyworth.Â A sharp scolding from Unkie Alfred and the two put aside their differences and make peace with one another.Â It appears that Nightwing thinks the â€œnetworkâ€ is a great idea, and doesnâ€™t really mind the selection process, heâ€™s just upset he wasnâ€™t consulted on the whole thing.Â Cassandra agrees, and goes so far as to ask Nightwing if he would manage the group.Â Issue resolved, brother and sister can go back to loving one another in a Greg and Marcia sort of way, and not a hillbilly sort of way.
The only other interesting bit of this issue is the strange religious figure who keeps asking if he is worthy enough as he flogs himself and receives guidance from his brothers.Â If the armor and flaming sword werenâ€™t enough of an indication of the shadowed figures identity, perhaps the recent DC Solicitations will give you a clue. Yup, itâ€™s Azrael, but more than likely not Jean-Paul Valley.
If you dig some well paced fighting sequences, if you like the team Batgirl outlined in the last issue, and if you like Batgirl and Nightwing together, then this issue has everything youâ€™ve been looking for.Â Whatâ€™s not to like?Â Some Outsider action would be nice…Â Otherwise, Batman and the Outsiders #14 is a stellar issue and deserves 4 out of 5 Stars.