A common trend in Outsiders has been a theme of a new team member being taken after each issue. We saw Sofia go first and get turned by Ra’s, then we saw Cassandra, Duke and Jefferson all get their turn in a series whose only recently had Batman as a bigger member. As a series called Batman & The Outsiders, it’s been lacking in Batman and lacking in unique takes on the current members. What this issue has given us compared to the previous installments, is a new teamfight, since the 8th issue delivered Katana and Jefferson fought in the plane. This upcoming fight should deliver a fun issue, but the series is still plagued with the average give and take. We see Ra’s take team members, then they’re saved soon after. We see Ishmael beat and capture Duke, only to have Cassandra save Duke soon after. This give/take mentality makes for a predictable storyline.
Hill’s previous issue did lead to a somewhat unexpected change by having Shiva leave Ra’s team and in this issue, we see her reasoning for turning on Ra’s and helping Jefferson. This change of personality was the most unexpected element of the series. Compared to previous issues where Shiva fought Cassandra and called her weak, we’re seeing a change in personality as Shiva is thinking about being a better parent. This change of heart is still unknown as to why it happened when it did, but if Shiva does look to repair her relationship with Cassandra, then maybe there’s a different arc that we could see.
If Shiva does get Cassandra to rejoin her and leave Gotham, we’d see the Outsiders weaken from losing members. If this happens, then maybe it’s also being used by Hill to introduce new teammates to replace Cain. This would allow for Hill to add more dynamics to a team that’s been more like a pair of heroes in love. Another reasoning to rekindle the relationship could be to have Shiva turn later and betray Jefferson and Cain’s trust, or weaken the team as she is still in league with Ra’s. If neither of these theories are the case, then maybe Cain rekindling with Shiva would result in the leaving from the team, to return some issues later.
Another aspect that this issue delivered was a number of beautiful panels by Dexter Soy, especially the scene early on with Batman confronting Sofia. Seeing the full page spread and the lighting and scenery colored by Veronica Gandini, delivered a fantastic piece of art. I loved the looming prescence that Batman gives, a theme that we see often, as well as the way the light shone on parts of the cape and cowl. This was gorgeous.
While this issue delivered some new theories as to how Hill looks to continue this series, it still remained repetitive in its give and take theme that has been consistent throughout the series. Seeing the team reunite at the end wasn’t enough to bring this series to a higher level. Going forward, I hope that Hill finds a way to subvert expectations or deliver a new underlying story arc that’d impact the team. An introduction of more members that would change the character dynamics would also give more life to this series.