COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Detective Comics #983 (On the Outside pt. 1)

Yet another fan is convinced the Bat Family is making Batman weaker. Meanwhile Batman is thinking outside the box with the Outsiders, first stop, Metropolis and Black Lightning!

Title: Detective Comics #983 (On the Outside pt. 1)
Writer: Bryan Edward Hill
Pencils: Miguel Mendonca
Inks: Diana Edea
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Sal Cipriano

What You Need to Know:

The Gotham Knights have disbanded following the events of Batmen Eternal, Batman’s core family is still around but he continues to need backup, he needs a group willing to work his way, outside conventional channels, he needs the Outsiders!

What You’ll Find Out:

We open on a news show, where a self-proclaimed “biggest Batman fan in the world” is raving about how much he loves Batman, how he’s an inspiring symbol of hope that makes all of Gotham sleep better at night. Suddenly the TV is shattered! We cut to one week later, the Signal out on patrol finds the blogger tied up, from out of the shadows a voice tells him he’s making Batman weaker. Suddenly an explosion rocks the building and Duke is blasted clear outside, he wakes up on Alfred working to save his life. Bruce stands watch over them, assuring Duke he’ll be ok.

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After a cameo from my favorite Martian, and saying goodbye to Duke, Bruce heads to Metropolis and Jefferson Pierce. We open on Black Lightning fighting a nameless bad guy with a hostage, he gets the hostage away but the bad guy is killed. Batman assures him that isn’t his fault, and tells him to come to Gotham, he’s got a team to run.

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What Just Happened?

Pretty cool first issue for the new creative team with Bryan Hill writing, I’m very excited for the return of the outsiders. I will say the villain felt a bit derivative, and extremely similar to “The Fan” in motive, from the final Christoper Priest Justice League arc, as well as the Joker in Death of the Family. The motive is actually more or less identical to early on n52 Joker. Hilariously the Bat-family has grown substantially since then, maybe Batman is weaker than ever?

The scene with Black Lightning on the rooftop was cool, but maybe I know less about his powers than I thought, did he somehow make a force field to contain an explosion without frying the girl sitting 3 feet away? Honestly, I don’t know so I could be wrong of course. I loved the cameo, stuff like that helps the world feel a bit bigger than it is.

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I did think the main villains choice of victims was a bit funny, he started with Duke, which was predictable as Duke is the newest and arguably weakest of the team, training wheels. By comparison, his second target is like going from a tricycle to a Ducati motorcycle, it’ll be interesting to see what he has up his sleeve next issue. My only guess is he’s going in reverse chronological order.

The art in this issue was really excellent, with the explosion blasting Duke out and the Black Lightning fight being real highlights from penciler Miguel Mendonca and inker Diana Egea. I do like the character design for the new villain, although he does look a bit like Snake Eyes from GI Joe. Black Lightning looks great too, and it sounds like Batman is going to get him a new suit which I’m really excited to see.

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pencil art via Miguel Mendonca on Twitter

I am glad to see Duke getting some face time, I was worried he would be left behind after his miniseries kind of pushed him out on his own, and they even took the time to acknowledge his metahuman power, which is a nice reference that I appreciate. Keeping continuity tight on a creative team shift can fall by the wayside in the shuffle I’m glad Bryan Hill understands that and seems to have a good handle on what he’s doing with the team. I’m very excited for next issue.

Rating: 8/10
Final Thought: 
Solid first entry in the arc, the rating might raise or lower depending on how plot details pan out. I would consider this issue a good jumping on point, as the large-scale paradigm shift from the Gotham Knights stories to whatever the new run is building towards means a day one reader knows almost as much as anyone else at this point.


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