Sunday, May 1, 2016

Batman and the Outsiders #1 (1983)


Batman and the Outsiders #1 (August, 1983)
"Wars Ended... Wars Begun!"
Writer & Co-Creator - Mike W. Barr
Artist & Co-Creator - Jim Aparo
Colorist - Adrienne Roy
Editor - Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60

Another one from the famous covers collection.  I'd thought this would be an interesting issue to go over from the cover alone.  Just look at the dejected looks on the faces of the Justice League members... conversely, check out the smug kissers on the Outsiders.  I knew this one was destined for the collection by hook or by crook.  Let's see how this one plays out...

--


Lucius Fox is headed to the nation of Markovia on business for Wayne Enterprises, and his buddy (and boss) Bruce is throwing him a going away party.  Over the nights that follow, the Batman goes about his routine patrols, until returning to the cave only to find Alfred has some bad news.  As it turns out, Wayne Enterprises chose a rotten time to send a man out Markovia way as they are in the midst of a revolution.  The front page of a local Gotham newspaper states that Lucius Fox is among the missing.


Batman calls an emergency Justice League meeting to discuss retrieving his buddy Fox from the Markovian miasma.  He 'ports up to the JLA Satellite, and finds something less than a warm reception.

ruh-roh... When Superman says "We have to talk"...
Before he can lay out his plan, he is stopped by his "old friend" Superman.  He informs Batman that the League has already agreed not to interfere in the Markovian matter due to the State Department's fears that their presence would only exacerbate the situation.

Batman does not take this news well at all.  Rather than try to work out a compromise, he just ups and quits the League.  Just like that?  Just like that.  He swats Superman's hand away, recounts his origin story and skips the Satellite.  Hardly the "two-bit Justice League" speech I had expected from the cover, but I suppose it'll do.


Meanwhile, in Castle Markov... Markovian King Viktor is on his last legs, just moments away from shuffling off this mortal coil, he talks to his two sons, Gregor and Brion... the darker-haired (and uniformed) Gregor is next in line to the throne.   Before passing, Vik makes mention of their sister Tara, who many fans will recognize as Terra from the New Teen Titans.  The fellas grieving is cut short by the entrance of one Dr. Jace.  It is implied that Jace's experiments are responsible for Terra's ability to manipulate the Earth.  Brion, next in line to be a guinea pig, leaves the Castle with the doc.


Outside by Markovburg, a passing billionaire stops a family of refugees for directions.  It is, of course, Bruce Wayne... and he is desperately seeking Dr. Jace.  The fella points him in the right direction, and for his troubles Bruce unloads his rattletrap of a hooptie on him.


Nearby, a young man approaches a Markovian soldier.  He claims to be Lucius Fox's brother, but we know him better as Jefferson Pierce... Black Lightning.  In true invader form, he requests to be "taken to his leader".  He flashes a bag containing a solid gold brick to sweeten the deal, and the soldier... whose name we come to find is "Stud", dutifully leads him boss-ward.


In the General's tent, Jeff is given an audience with Karnz, the man in charge.  Before they can come to an agreement, Karnz is stabbed in the back from an assassin on the outside of the tent.  The soldiers swarm Pierce, and goes into fight-mode.


Outside the tent, we meet our assassin.  She is Katana, and she is able to flee from the bevy of pursuant soldier-boys.  Ol' Black Lightning's not as lucky... getting clubbed in the back of the head with the butt of a rifle in all the confusion.


Batman has his man wired, and is listening to the whole ordeal.  Irritated, he heads down a dilapidated road.  As he continues, he comes across a young woman with long blonde hair (with rainbow "highlights") who is passed out.  He notices that she appears to be surrounded by a sort of halo... hmmm.  He tries to stir her back to consciousness, only to be blasted by a kind of energy shot for his troubles.


The young woman attempts to flee.  She takes flight, however, cannot maintain it.  She falls into Batman's waiting arms.  He reinforces that he means her no harm, and tries to figure out a way to help her.  She does not appear to understand very basic human needs, such as eating food.


Dr. Jace and Prince Brion Markov have arrived at the lab.  She gives him one last chance to back out, and he refuses.  With a pull of a switch, the young Prince is bombarded by powerful rays.  The experiment was a success.


Just then, several revolutionaries crash the scene.  The future Geo-Force is able to hold his own briefly, until taking a bullet in the back.  Luckily (like... really luckily), Metamorpho the Element Man is in the house.


Ol' Rex is a house of fire... for a moment.  He winds up shot by a sort of wire-pistol that cuts him into (not quite) bite-sized pieces.  His parts hit the ground in a funky colored pile, and is ultimately scooped into a sack.  He's destined to meet "The Baron", while Geo-Force is headed for an unmarked grave... which he doesn't stay planted in for long.


We now go back to Batman and his new pal Halo.  They approach some soldiers, with hopes of eavesdropping.  When a soldier begins creeping up behind the Bat, Halo fires a blast at the fellas head.  This unfortunately garners the attention of the rest of the squadron.  In all the confusion, he, like Pierce before him meets the butt-end of a rifle.  Halo watches as he's loaded on something of a spit, and hauled away.


When the Batman comes to, the first person he sees is the fella who he was seeking in the first place... Lucius Fox.  They are in a sort of cell and are wearing shackles.  Among their number are Black Lightning and a pile of Element Man.  Before the can sufficiently catch-up, a new man enters the scene.  He is Baron Bedlam, the party behind the current Markovian insurrection.


The issue closes out with a text-piece by writer/co-creator Mike W. Barr.  It's an interesting one where he discusses some of the challenges he'd faced in compiling his team of Outsiders.  I also learned that this title was the replacement for the recently wrapped up The Brave and the Bold.


--

This was a great way to start this series.  It was both fun to read and to look at.  Of course, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a bit disappointed that the story didn't quite live up to the cover... but, then again... how could it?

The introduction of Markovia was one of those things about DC Comics (and comics in general, I suppose) that I've always dug.  I enjoy seeing these fictional locations, where anything can happen.  They're kinda "squint just right, and it's a real place... but not quite" locations, and they give the creators a ton more leeway in just how far they can take their stories.  The Markovian Royal Family definitely has some potential.  I do look forward to seeing how their revolution plays out.

Halo's debut was interesting, and very well done.  If I recall correctly, it would be a couple of years before the mystery of Halo is finally addressed and solved.  I enjoyed my time with Jefferson Pierce, having very little experience with his character during this era.  Katana's brief intro, assassination plot and all was a great addition to this already mystery-filled tale.  All of the "new" characters were truly a treat to meet.

I do feel as though Batman's motivations for leaving the Justice League was a bit weak.  I don't believe he couldn't have convinced... at least part of the League to aid him in his Fox hunt (ehh?  ehh?).  I mean, Ollie and Dinah were there... ya gotta figure Batman could've got them to play along.  Like I said... kinda weak, but moved the story along to where it needed to go.

The art was wonderful, as is to be expected.  I really enjoyed the visual look of this issue.  Really, outside the sorta-kinda weaksauce rationale for leaving the League, I cannot think of a single complaint.  This has been collected in a SHOWCASE Presents "phone book" edition, so it isn't terribly hard to come across.  If you can get past the black and white format, it's definitely something to keep an eye out for.

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2 comments:

  1. That looks so much better than their solo book

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Infinitely! This one was tons more fun that the later Batman-less variety

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