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OUTSIDERS (2023-) #1 Review

Neil reviews the debut issue of DC Comics’ brand new OUTSIDERS series from writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. Available now.

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Outsiders #1 (DC Comics)

Outsiders #1 is written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. Artwork is by Robert Carey, colours by Valentina Taddeo and letters by Tom Napolitano. The book is published by DC Comics. Main cover art (left) is by Roger Cruz and Adriano Lucas.

Outsiders #1 is available now, in print and on digital platforms where all good comic books are sold.

Synopsis

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-sciencefueled 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…or learn what universe-shattering secret they’ve discovered buried under Antarctica.

Review

Back at San Diego Comic-Con Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly announced a brand new book, Outsiders. Not The Outsiders. Just Outsiders. A name which carries huge weight not just within Batman-related books. But across the entire DC brand. A team synonymous with being on the fringes of vigilante justice. The SDCC announcement made it clear that 2023’s Outsiders would be somewhat different, more global and investigative. But does this first issue live up to both the legacy and its premise of uncovering the hidden secrets of the DCU?

As first issues go Outsiders #1 is large scale opening gambit. Given that it needs to introduce its cast and bring them together. It still has plenty of room to actually go out on a mission with a well defined end point. I had anticipated we would spend much of the issue introducing key players but Kelly and Lanzing are able to so whilst keeping the story moving. The book also lives up to its global mission statement. It feels sufficiently far-reaching that by the end I was imaging just how far and wide it can go.

Our entry point in to Outsiders is Kate Kane aka Batwoman. She’s already in Rhapastan on some kind of covert operation by herself. It seems that post The Gotham War Kate has fled Gotham and that has put her on Luke Fox’s radar. Kate has always been an outsider in the Bat-family so she feels like a very natural choice to be on this team. It’s also been nearly 5 years since a Batwoman solo-book. In that time the character has grown in popularity thanks to her CW series. Her strength of character and dedication to helping the helpless make her the perfect choice also. There’s a likability to her character which makes her big draw for the audience and that is most definitely a bonus for a new concept like this.

We’re dealing with just a trio of explorers in Outsiders #1. Along with Kate and Luke is a gender-swapped version of Wildstorm character Drummer. Traditionally Drummer has technopathy as well as a genius level intellect and a penchant for hacking. Lanzing and Kelly’s version “talks to history”. We really only scratch the surface here but this new version is certainly an intriguing addition to the story.

As for the mission itself, the scale is impressive. It’s suitable mysterious and ominous with potential ramifications for the multiverse. Again we really only scratch the surface, superficially touching on key themes which will hopefully reverberate through the rest of this arc at least. For now I could only guess about what’s really going on and whether there are wider ties to the Dawn of DC initiative. A passing reference to Amanda Waller certainly suggests that may be the case. But for now we’ll have to wait.

Robert Carey and Valentina Taddeo do a brilliant job of visualising the scale of the story. The cavernous underground facility has a real sense of depth and space to it. The art perfectly communicates that sense of grandeur to the location which really helps to legitimise the story. The character designs are also inspired. Batwoman looks great, we see her in her usual costume at the beginning before changing in to something more Antarctica appropriate. The second costume feels perfectly in-keeping with what we would see the character in should this have been a big Hollywood project. That kind of potentially unnecessary but at the same time badass looking costume change.

Verdict

Overall a great start for Outsiders. Kelly and Lanzing are doing great work in the DCU and it’s cool to see them continue that with this kind of project. I’m excited for more.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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