They’re back, and they’re protecting the forgotten corners of the DCU. Who are the new Outsiders? Your Major Spoilers review of Outsiders #1 from DC Comics awaits!
Writer: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Artist: Robert Carey
Colorist: Valentina Taddeo
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Editor: Jessica Berbey
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: November 14, 2023
Previously in Outsiders: A universe of secrets is about to come to light. Batman protects Gotham City from evil. Batman Inc. protects the rest of the known world. But what of the unknown world? What of the ancient evils in hidden tombs and forgotten tragedies from a magic-and-mad-science-fueled super-heroic century? Using his fortune, Luke Fox launches a new organization dedicated to shining light into the world’s darkest corners. His first recruit: Kate Kane, the Batwoman–who will re-embrace her military background to protect Luke’s dream and encounter every bit of strangeness the DCU has to offer.
And just wait until you meet the Third Man…
“YOU WON’T HAVE TO WEAR THE WIG”
After the madness of The Gotham War, Kate Kane has abandoned Gotham City for the wartorn land of Rhapastan, where she wanders a city shattered by war and the aggression of Amanda Waller. Batwoman is surprised when someone manages to sneak up on her, but even more so when that person turns out to be Luke “Batwing” Fox, with a job offer. She isn’t interested, and tells him so, insisting that she doesn’t want anything to do with Batman and his nonsense, but Batwing isn’t here on behalf of The Bat. He’s working alone, an Outsider, which gets Kate to agree to join his crusade. Their first field mission takes them to Antarctica, where they are greeted by “the greatest archaeologist the world has ever known,” a woman known as The Drummer. Their mission is, on the face of it, a simple one, to figure out an abandoned piece of multiversal technology that has popped up unexpectedly.
But when that technology is The Carrier, the fifty-mile-long headquarters of the Wildstorm version of The Authority, things take a different turn.
ISN’T THIS “PLANETARY?”
I’ve already seen a few snide takes that this book is just riffing on Planetary, but that’s not accurate. As the issue ends, with Batwing down a team member, we actually see the first glimpse of a Planetary Guide in decades, making it clear that this isn’t a riff or a pastiche. It’s a sequel! I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the use of Kate Kane and Luke Fox here, but I am happy to see abandoned Bat-characters getting a place to belong. There is also some clever dialogue that explains the team name, and a not-entirely-surprising Third Man in play, but the strongest part of the story is its self-awareness. Batwoman points out that there’s a war in Gotham seemingly every year, snarks that the “what if Bruce Wayne made better use of his money” trope is played-out, and makes light of Drummer, Luke, and their predicament, playing perfectly against Batwing’s all-business demeanor. The art gives things a gritty, off-book feel, which I enjoy, but I sort of wish that Kelly would have stuck with the “no costumes” aesthetic seen in the beginning. There’s a kind of action-figure joy to the Antarctic battle togs that our heroes don, but it seems counter to the source material.
BOTTOM LINE: THEY HAVE MY ATTENTION
There are oodles of Wildstorm Easter eggs in the pages of Outsiders #1, including at least two corpses that were once old friends, an ominous Planetary guide, the Carrier’s point-of-view on its time as the home of the Authority, with art that bridges the gap between Gotham City and Elijah Snow, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I don’t know if I love it yet, but I did adore Planetary, and want to see how this plays out.
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There's a lot of Wildstorm love here, and since is has been nearly 25 years since Planetary, a sequel feels acceptable. Add in some arch dialogue and nice art, and you've got a strong first issue debut.