All right, we are back for another round of Just for the Hell of it Monday. While Eric is trying to entice everyone with his horror nonsense, I am keeping it real up in the field with a DC Comics classic...Batman and the Outsiders. Why pick this book? Because I have been predicting over and over (in fact, I did it again on this week's podcast HERE) that DC would announce a Batman and the Outsiders miniseries sometime soon. I guess I gave to wait a bit more...kind of. DC did announce eight new minis today and among them is a Metamorpho book written by Aaron Lopresti and a Katana book written by Mike W. Barr. "Mike W. Barr? You mean the writer of Batman and the Outsiders?" Yes, yes I do, voice in my head.
So, what better way to celebrate the announcement than hopping in the wayback machine and going back to the summer of '83 when a young Jim Werner was learning to battle Sucker MC's while wishing he could get through and shout pix-pix-pix on channel 11. He became a lifelong fan of Dave Righetti and Grandmaster Flash and had no idea that Batman and the Outsiders was coming out. That young Jim was a real dummy. But, enough about him...let's get on with the review.
Written by: Mike W. Barr
Art by: Jim Aparo and Adrienne Roy
Cover Price: $0.60
Release Date: August 1, 1983
Before I get into the issue itself and it's "heroes for our troubled age", I have to comment on the cover for this issue. Just look at it. It's awesome. I don't know what I loved more...Batman calling the Justice League "Two-Bit" or Flash's stunned look. Actually it was the two-bit part. Boy, I love covers with word bubbles.
The issue opens up with a quick going away party for Lucius (He's going to Markovia...lucky him), but quickly gets to the heart of the matter. Remember, it's the early 80's and Gotham hasn't learned to "Just Say No". Because of a delay, Batman missed stopping a drug deal and he is really ticked off. In fact, Batman has too much on his plate and is really running himself ragged. Then the worst thing possible happens...Lucius goes missing in the Markovian Revolution.
A tired Batman calls an emergency meeting of the JLA to take care of business. There's just one problem, Superman has promised the JLA would not get involved in this whole Markovian mess. To solve the problem, Batman tells Superman to take this job and shove it and quits the JLA. After bitch slapping Superman, we get a Batman origin montage and then he teleports out.
I really liked this opening segment. The Markovian problem reminded me a bit of the beginning of the Trinity War and Kahndaq and I loved seeing a badass Batman who doesn't take no for an answer.
We then get a first hand look at Markovia and it's new King Gregor, his brother Brion and the mysterious Dr. Jace. Dr, Jace is the important one here...she's involved in weird experiments and that's never a good thing, A man exchanges his car for information on where she is. That man is Metamorpho!
Barr throws a lot at the reader and next we see that Batman has traveled to Markovia with Black Lightning to find and free Lucius. It's a funny scene in a dated way when it's mentioned that a soldier named "stud" has never eaten Quiche. When stud takes Black Lightning to his leader, all hell breaks loose.
Enter Katana, who kills the General that Black Lightning is negotiating with and even after some slick kung fu moves, he is knocked out and captured. At least Katana got away, right? While all this is going on, Batman finds Halo in the rubble of some village. I'd say more about this, but it really was just Batman finding her laying there and calling her Halo.
We continue adding to the roster when Dr. Jace uses her "science" on Brion and turns him into Geo Force. Again, there isn't much more to it, but when they are attacked by revolutionaries, Rex Mason shows up and turns into Metamorpho. Unfortunately, Dr. Jace and Metamorpho are captured and Geo Force is left for dead. The classic fist punching up through the ground says otherwise, though.
The issue ends with Halo being an amateur (Batman's words) and getting Batman captured. He wakes up in a prison cell with Metamopho, Black Lighting and Lucius Fox and immediately meets the big bad of the arc...Baron Bedlam. So, Halo, Geo Force and Katana and still on the loose. I wonder who will free our captured heroes???
Boy, Mike Barr really wanted to get everyone involved right off the bat. Nowadays, this issue would have lasted a 6 issue arc with each member getting their own origin issue. While some of the entrances are rushed or forced (Halo especially), I enjoyed them for what they are. In fact, I like how Barr just cuts to the chase with little to no fluff.
Jim Aparo's art was really good and the highlight of the issue for me. My favorite part? Black Lightning changing into his costume mid karate kick. I also liked Halo's character design and the color work on her by Adrienne Roy. Everything looked great.
Bits and Pieces:
There is a huge character/info dump going on here, but I enjoyed it. In one issue, Barr introduced every member of Batman and the Outsiders and got half of them captured. The art by Jim Aparo was great and I will definitely keep reading this series. If you are a Batman fan, liked the Batman and the Outsiders Convergence book or like retro books in general, track this one down and see where it all started.