Batman and the Outsiders

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The Outsiders (not to be confused with the novel of the same name) are a DC Comics superhero team that has starred in its own comic book series several times. The group is best known as "Batman's own superhero team" since he formed it, though he's no longer a regular member.

The first series, Batman and the Outsiders, was launched after the cancellation of The Brave and the Bold, Batman's own team-up series in the early 1980s. Writer Mike W. Barr and artist Jim Aparo, both of whom had extensive experience with Batman, created the team and launched the series on the last issue of TB&TB, #200 (July, 1983).

In that story, Batman, angry that the Justice League would not help him rescue his friend, Lucius Fox, who had been caught in the middle of a military coup in the European nation of Markovia (since they didn't want to start an international incident) quits the team and goes there alone. He ends up however running into various other heroes while there.

They are:

  • Black Lightning, a black superhero with electrical powers;
  • Metamorpho, an adventurer transformed into a chemical shapeshifting creature by an ancient artifact;
  • Geo-Force, the rightful prince of Markovia (and brother of Terra from Teen Titans) who gained the ability to manipulate the energies of the Earth (unlike his sister, who manipulates the earth itself) from an experiment;
  • Katana, a female samurai wielding a cursed sword (it steals souls) on a mission of revenge against the man who killed her family; Batman saved her life so she feels indebted to him.
  • Halo, an amnesiac, childlike girl with one superpower for each color of the rainbow (Batman basically brings her along out of pity.)

(Black Lightning and Metamorpho were already established characters; the rest were introduced in that story.)

After rescuing his friend (and incidentally ending the coup) Batman invited the heroes to stay together as a team, which they did, as The Outsiders, based off Bruce Wayne's penthouse.

Later in the series, Looker, a beautiful telepath/telekinetic, and Atomic Knight, a man in Powered Armor, joined the team. (Atomic Knight was also a pre-existing character).

Eventually, the group left Batman (ironically, after he refused to help with a crisis in Markovia, busy with his own priorities) and the series changed its name to simply The Outsiders. (Batman later rejoined the League.)

The team disbanded when the series was canceled, not before Halo recovered her memories and Katana got her revenge, though. Under the original name they lasted for 32 issues (August, 1983-April, 1986). As simply Outsiders, they had another 28 issues (November, 1985-February, 1988).

A short lived relaunch had Geo-Force looking for heroes to defend Markovia against a vampire lord. These included Superman's Anti-Hero Substitute the Eradicator, and the magic-user Faust, son of Felix Faust. Over the course of their first story Looker became a vampire, which is now seen as her status quo. They were also joined by Technocrat, another Powered Armor guy. This version lasted for 24 issues (November, 1993-November, 1995).

In 2003, a new version of The Outsiders was launched, now led first by Nightwing (Batman's former protege Robin) and then by Arsenal (Speedy, Green Arrow's ex-partner.) This version hasn't been as popular as the first, and has something of a reputation for being composed of "heroes currently not being used by the League or the Titans" sort of like Marvel's The Defenders. Despite this, it went on to be the longest-running Outsiders title to date, making it to 50 issues before being relaunched. Lasting from August, 2003 to November, 2007.

This version got two new directions in rapid succession, when Batman first recreated them as an "undercover" team that would be seen as borderline villains (a reflection on how successful the previous version had been), and then promptly disappeared, leaving Alfred Pennyworth to reassemble the original lineup, plus The Creeper and Owlman (not the Mirror Universe version, but a minor Gotham City detective wearing the same costume).

This version of the team then broke in half in the wake of Blackest Night, when Geo-Force started treating them as Markovian special forces. Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Owlman and the Creeper split off, leaving Geo-Force, Katana, and Halo. When Markovia signed a non-aggression pact with New Krypton, they were joined by a new version of the Eradicator, while Black Lightning's team were joined by the bruiser Freight Train. The Markovian team is later bolstered by Looker and the Olympian.

A teenage version of The Outsiders (initially featuring only Black Lightning, Metamorpho and Katana) appeared in a few episodes of the cartoon version of The Brave and the Bold. A later episode added Geo-Force and Halo to the roster and showed Black Lightning and Katana in their traditional costumes.

Tropes used in Batman and the Outsiders include: