Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Dexter Soy
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
It is no secret that Batman is a man of few words and that there are even fewer people he truly trusts (including not trusting himself at times). Over the last few years across many versions of Batman, we know that Batman will often make the hard choice in order to protect the innocent. At times, that decision has put him in a position where even his friends now give him the side eye and no longer fully trust his choices.
Batman and the Outsiders #1 is another such story. Many years ago, Batman helped the Barrera family go into hiding. The family had a secret that they needed to keep hidden, and up until recently, they have stayed out of harm’s way. Now, however, the secret is out. And Batman turns to the only person he feels he can trust in order to find the youngest of the family before she is taken and her secret is used against her and the world.
Dropping readers right into the middle of the action, Batman and the Outsiders #1 finds The Signal and Orphan pinned down by an unnamed enemy as the narrator talks about how the young heroes will never follow their leader. Just as hope is lost and Duke is about to make a poor decision, a crackle and white flash across the panel lets you know that Black Lightning has arrived to help in battle. The fight wraps up with Katana making her appearance and finalizing the defeat of the enemy. Once victory is in hand, the setting switches to Bruce Wayne and Jefferson Pierce finishing up the monologue that filled the panels during the first part. It is simple: Bruce wants a favor from Jefferson. He wants him to take a team and go find the girl, while he takes care of other business.
Hill’s dialogue between characters is done in a way that represents their voices perfectly. Duke is presented as the brash young man who is tired of being kept on the sidelines. Cassie is the one with few words, but her voice tells you that, in her mind, she is unsure of herself while her body reacts with the moves of a skilled assassin. Katana is the silent killer who hides her own demons. Meanwhile, Black Lightning is the veteran who is not scared to call out Bruce on his lies. The first conversation between Bruce and Jefferson defines the relationship between the two men perfectly. Bruce is hoping to make it seem as if his motives are one thing, while Jefferson feels his motivation for this new team is something different. It is an assumption that Jefferson carries with him back to his new team as he gives them not only their mission but also his assessment as to why they are together. It’s a moment that solidifies where Jefferson’s loyalty lies.
Soy is not an artist that I have personally seen a lot of. However, what work I have seen of his has been action heavy, and that is a style that works in a book like Batman and the Outsiders #1. In the early panels, we get to see him flex his strength as an artist as the heroes fight for their lives in battle. The characters are portrayed as strong and ready to dispatch their enemies. The sharp lines help make the heroes jump off of the pages as they take the typical superhero poses. And crashes of lightning help to create a contrast between the dark setting of Gotham and the brightness of the hero suits.