Batman and the Outsiders #16 (1984)

Batman and the Outsiders #16 (December, 1984)

“The Truth About Halo, Part 1: … Goodbye…”
Writer/Editor/Co-Creator – Mike W. Barr
Artist/Co-Creator – Jim Aparo
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Cover Price: $0.75

Whodathunkit… Batman and the Outsiders is rapidly becoming one of my favorite titles of this era.  Never would have pegged it… on the surface, these cast members do very little for me… however, I am pleased to report that they have absolutely won me over.  I wasn’t expecting this to be so… soap opera-y… it’s not too different from Uncanny X-Men or New Teen Titans in that way… and I don’t gotta tell ya that that’s a good thing!

Today we’re going to start unraveling the quandary of just who in the heck is Halo, anyway?

We open in the midst of a Halo nightmare.  Her past is unknown to her, and she just isn’t sure who she is or where she’d come from.  She wakes up screaming which brings her teammate Katana into her room.  Tatsu comforts Gaby and sings her back to sleep.  This shows an amazingly “softer” side to Katana, especially when compared to an upcoming scene.

When morning comes, Katana goes… to Wayne Manor.  Alfred lets her in and informs her that Master Bruce is expecting her.  She proceeds to read Bruce the riot act for putting the Halo mystery on the back burner… to which, Bruce says “Oh yeah… well check this out!” and shows her all the progress he’s made on the case, including a suspected hometown and name (which is kind of a reach here, but it’s Batman… so it’s right)… and even tells her he’s got his detective buddy Jason Bard on the case… How ya like dem apples, Tatsu!?

Snaps, yo…

Speaking of Bard, we join him following up on a lead in Arlington, Missouri.  He checks out the local High School and finds the photo of a Violet Harper who would be part of the class of 1987.  He decides to visit the Harper home to get some confirmation… and tells Mrs. Harper that he knows where her lost daughter is.

Back in Gotham, Batman receives the good news and decides to assemble the Outsiders.  He wants them all present when he tells Halo that he knows who she is and where she’s from.  Needless to say, she’s… kinda pleased.

We get a scene with the Harpers, where Mom is super excited to be getting her daughter back… while Dad is a bit skeptical, and worried she’s getting her hopes up.

Later that night, we see a touching scene between Gaby/Violet and Brion, where they decide that no matter what the outcome, they will stay together.

We shift scenes to a free clinic where a junkie/drug thief has finagled his way into seeing the Doc.  Inside he holds him up for some sweet sweet drugs… unfortunately for him, Katana is on patrol this night.  She hears the struggle… and decides to, ya know, kill the fella by stabbing him in the chest.  The Doc is flabbergasted… gobsmacked, even!  He makes Katana help him treat the junkies injuries.

We shift scenes to Metamorpho and pal, Dr. Jace as he attempts to reconnect with his lady-love-lost Sapphire Stagg.  She’s fitted him with a device to protect him from Simon Stagg’s Orb of Ra.  He sneaks inside and clears the air with Sapphire… but their conversation is being heard by daddy dearest… and his caveman butler… who storm the room and attempt to assault Rex both physically and with the Orb.

The Orb shatters due to Rex’s gimmick… what he was unprepared for, however, was the other half-dozen orbs Stagg has!  Rex goes down… seemingly dead, when Dr. Jace does a run-in and drops the Stagg-army.  She collects Sapphire and they transport the dead Rex out.

Next thing we know we’re on a Missouri-bound Wayne Enterprises jet.  Bruce is there along with Halo, Katana, Geo-Force, and Black Lightning.  As the plane touches down, Tatsu tells Gaby she’s going to hate living here… aw, someone’s gonna miss Gaby…

Don’t be such a buzzkill, Tatsu…

We get our touching parent-child reunion… and Bruce excuses himself to do some Batmanning.  He decide to check the local police department to check Halo’s police record (which has been locked due to her status as a minor).  He learns that she had been seen around town with a boy who was found dead by way of a drug overdose in Paris, just around the time Batman found Halo in Markovia… hmmm…

We shift back to the Harper home, and watch the Outsiders say their goodbyes to Halo.

We wrap up back in Gotham where the Outsiders get an unexpected delivery… the perhaps beyond-repair Rex Mason.

Like I said in the open, Batman and the Outsiders is turning into one of my “go to” books of late.  It’s nearing my meaningless “Comic Book Comfort Food” designation, normally reserved for books with Titans, Mutants, Bwa-ha-ha’s, and Peter David’s Incredible Hulk.  I’ve always said my main problem with DC Comics while growing up was the villains… they just bored me… in this issue, we don’t really get any… outside of a brief bit with Stagg and his Caveman butler… but, that was a pretty good scene in itself!

I really enjoyed watching Batman interact with his team members in and out of costume.  That wasn’t something I was expecting.  I figured he’d still be all secretive and evasive… and be like “above” the Outsiders.  I mean, there’s no mistaking that he’s “the guy” here… he’s clearly the boss, but at the same time he feels like an actual member of the crew.

It was weird seeing Wayne outsource his detective work… but not all of it, if you notice.  He was cool with Jason Bard doing some digging… but when it came to more unscrupulous measures (checking the police files), Batman went hands on.  It really speaks to his taking his leadership responsibility seriously… either that, or he figured Bard wouldn’t go for it… or wouldn’t be successful in his attempt.

The Metamorpho scene was pretty neat.  It seems his presence has been relegated to just watching him make phone calls of late.  It was nice to see some actual “progression” in the storyline.  

Katanas scene was… ehh… though, I gotta admit I laughed when she showed confusion over puncturing the would-be drug thief’s lung.  I guess this was just a demonstration of her, um… cultural dissonance?  Is that a thing?

Now, for Halo… I’m glad I haven’t read ahead, so I’m just as clueless about her past as she is.  As for her future, the only thing I can say that I “know” about Halo is that at some point in the future she gets a pretty big haircut.  I was surprised to see that she is supposed to be such a young thing… if she’s set to graduate in 1987… and this book is set in 1984, that would make her… what 14, 15?  I wouldn’t have guessed a day under 25.  

Overall… great issue.  Worth checking out… worth seeking out.  Lotsa fun, great drama, and that Jim Aparo art!

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