Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Batman and the Outsiders Annual #1 Review

Love and Marriage...and Swords

Written by: Bryan Hill
Art by: Max Raynor, Luis Guerrero, and ALW Studio's Troy Peteri
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: October 30, 2019

An Annual this early in a run?!?  Usually, I would yell "nonsense", but Batman and the Outsiders needs a bit of a jump start, if you ask me, so maybe this is just what the doctor ordered.  It is a Katana story and we haven't got a whole lot of her in the regular run so I am down with that, as long as it's not too heavy on the Soultaker...

We open the issue with a quick rundown of the problem at hand (or in sheath)... the Demon, Tsutomo, is after revenge... against Katana's husband, Maseo her sword.  Yep, it's another Soultaker story!

Tatsu and Jefferson head off and meet up with a frenemy from Katana's past and it's all about hints at Katana's past, her legacy, and her future...fighting in the sword.  Remember, it always comes back to the sword.  The tweest is how she is going to get there.

Bryan Hill is using a very familiar story for Katana to flesh her out a bit for the readers of his run and it is something that's needed going forward.  The problem is, I realized pretty quickly that I would much rather be reading about any of the other members of the Outsiders instead!

We continue by seeing that life inside the sword sucks for Maseo at the moment, but it was a little too late since we already know what we now see.  Back in the real world, Katana and Black Lightning talk, and talk...and talk.  I'd say it ruined the pacing of the issue, but things were dragging from the start.  Things pick up a bit as Katana takes a walk down memory lane to show us all that she is a bit crazy...before a little seppuku sends her into the Soultaker, leaving Jefferson to stand guard over her body.

I like the idea here that what Katana has done has opened up walls between the living and the dead so while Katana is in her sword trying to save her husband, Black Lightning is being attacked by demons while he protects his teammate's body.

The story takes the classic "the power was always inside you" turn, but only after Katana accepts it with the urging of Maseo and while there are some nice, little moments, nothing felt big even though it's obvious it should.  I have read a good amount of Katana and even that didn't help me feel anything at all from these scenes.  The issue ends with Katana and Black Lightning trusting each other a little more and ready to get back to the regular run.

I already said it, but this issue didn't do much at all for me.  I like the idea of getting more Katana, but if you come into this knowing the basics, you will get nothing new at all.  There is only a minimal setup to the threat facing Katana and because of that, things just happen without any real tension or even much interest.  The issue looks good thanks to Max Raynor's art, but overall, this was just a boring issue that felt like it was just wasting time to fill some page space.  

Bits and Pieces:

While I like the idea of getting some focus on Katana, I wish Bryan Hill had more to do and say with the extra space he is given.  The issue looked good, but it can totally be skipped and while Annuals always have that danger looming over them, I would expect that there would be more of a purpose behind giving a series with only 6 issues under its belt an Annual than what we got here.  Sure, we get some more Katana, but did we need an Annual to do it?


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