Assembled by The Batman to fight the battles that the Justice League could not, The Outsiders were the super-team that Gotham deserved. After spending a year trapped under a dome, what has happened to our heroes? Your Major Spoilers review of Convergence: Batman And The Outsiders #1 awaits!
Previously in Convergence: Batman And The Outsiders: After a conflict with his big-league (you should excuse the expression) partners, Batman quit the JLA and assembled his own team of heroes to fight the battles he felt the League was ignoring. Veteran heroes Metamorpho and Black Lightning (both of whom had rejected offers of JLA membership, I might add) joined martial-artist Katana, light-powered teenager Halo, and the earth-powered prince of the duchy of Markovia, the mighty Geo-Force. Working together, they saved Geo-Force’s country, took down a number of villains and were pretty heroic, until their Gotham City was plucked from time and space by Brainiac. This is a tale of Pre-Crisis Earth-1 Gotham City…
This book opens on day #364 under the dome, as Batman pays a visit to Commissioner Gordon (who surprises him, and remarks that he only owes the Dark Knight a thousand or so more) and they discuss how surprisingly well Gotham has adapted to life in captivity. Each of the Outsiders gets a quick spotlight, with Black Lightning doing his part to keep things running, Metamorpho enjoying life as a normal human, Katana keeping watch over a comatose Halo and Geo-Force finding it hard to keep hiding his pain and rage. (These Outsiders have clearly been snatched from 1984, in the wake of his sister Terra’s death during The Judas Contract, by the way.) Even an all-too-human Batman gets a lovely moment with Alfred, and falls asleep in his chair while once again trying to puzzle out the reasons behind their abduction. Then, in a familiar scene, Telos makes his announcement, and the bubble around Gotham City falls, and their powers suddenly return (in a REALLY exciting and well-done sequence). As the issue comes to an end, Geo-Force hovers above the city, realizing that they’re about to be overrun by an army of mutants from Earth-AD (the home of Kamandi) led by the original Kirby version of OMAC, all of whom seem to have blood in their eye and a willingness to take Telos at his word that rewards await the victors of ritual combat.
EXCELLENT CHARACTER WORK HERE
Unlike some of the less successful Convergence part ones of the last couple of weeks, Andreyko’s script gives all the characters room to breathe, to show us who they are, who they were, and in the case of The Batman, how they differ from the modern interpretations. Black Lightning’s humor, Geo-Force’s determination, Katana’s devotion to her friend and more get spotlight time during the issue, saving the fighty-fighty and conflict for the second half of the crossover. It’s a move that makes this issue a more engrossing read than some of the Convergence books, especially since we’re SHOWN things about these characters that should explain to new readers (and remind old ones) why the Outsiders are cool, without relying entirely on nostalgia to move the book. The downside to the approach is that, aside from nice character moments, not much actually happens during this issue. As cool as the powering-up sequences are (with a smidgen of terrifying for Metamorpho, who finds himself transforming to his chemical form in the shower with his wife Sapphire, which may be dangerous for her), I’m not sure that having them as the only real action in the issue will make it a satisfying read for everyone. I really enjoy the art throughout the issue, though, embracing the old-school designs, especially in the case of Black Lightning, and always giving us clear storytelling with solid facial expressions and body language, even with the lack of combat…
THE BOTTOM LINE: ALL SETUP, BUT WELL-EXECUTED
All told, this issue solidly reminds me of the best of the old Barr/Aparo series it’s honoring, something that I haven’t been able to say about many Convergence tales, and while the plot is pretty negligible, the excellent characterization and artwork do a lot to balance it out as a pleasant reading experience. Convergence: Batman And The Outsiders #1 is really solid, delivering great character work, celebrating the characters’ history and making Black Lightning’s afro helmet and disco suit look really cool, earning a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall.