of the Outsiders #36, August 1986
Inside the Outsiders
Well, it's finally over. After six or so months of wondering what
circumstances would lead to the bitter breakup between Batman and the Outsiders, we
finally have our answer in BATO
#32. "A New War's Winning!" And what an answer! So typical
of The Batman as you portray him, and so atypical of the way most
comic book heroes are portrayed.
It's a fact of life that one can't be in two places at once.
Decisions must be made concerning one's responsibilities and
commitments. The Batman's commitment to Gotham is a primary reason
for his existance. When he returned from Abyssia to realize he had
been ignoring the city he loves, he overcompensated as only he can.
He rededicates himself to his cause, dragging along everyone he
believes he must. Regardless of the consequences.
In this case, the consequences are the physical and emotional
exhaustions of the Outsiders, and, of course, the shocking
witholding of information of the war in Markovia. The weariness of
the team would be enough to bring dissension to The Outsiders. The
shock of finding out that The Batman would ignore, so blatantly, the
needs of his partners to satisfy his own needs is evident by the
expressions Alan Davis so accurately drew on The Outsiders.
The Batman is more than a dread creature of the night in your hands.
He is a man with deep, seldom-expressed emotions. These are given
life not in the standard use of thought balloons, but with the
expressive art of Davis (and, on the Baxter book, Jim Aparo). A
prime example of this is pages 12-14 of BATO #32. On page 14, I see a Batman who fears
loneliness more than he fears any murderer. We see the elation on
his face when he thinks he is being called back by The Outsiders,
then we see this look transform into bitterness and pain as he sees
he is no longer needed by the team he created.
The "last" issue of BATO,
#32, and specifically the scene on pages 12 to 14 in which Batman
resigns from The Outsiders, represent the most astonishingly bad
writing I've seen in this comic since #1.
In some ways, the problem was unavoidable: with the debut of The Outsiders in deluxe format
and the resulting twelve-issue "gap," you created a corner that
anyone would have had a hard time writing his way out of. But the
fact that there was no
foreshadowing of disagreement, no
emotional foundation (beyond the superficial), and no logic to Batman's reasoning
is inexcusable. This breakup should have taken anywhere from two to
four issues to recount; to tell it in four pages and expect to do it
justice simply doesn't make sense.
Consider: Batman's concealment of the Markovian situation from
Geo-Force would have been predictable behavior prior to issue #13.
But since that time, Batman's attitude toward his team has mellowed
considerably, and it would have been logical for him to tell
Geo-Force what was happening, allowing GF to make the choice of
where to go first. The exchange they have instead reads like
children having a temper tantrum. In addition, Batman's comparison
of the breakup to his problems with the old JLA is completely
off-base. While Batman might well disagree with his companions'
priorities in this specific case, he should not feel betrayed by
their loyalties or by their principles. A more amicable parting
would have made much more sense in this situation.
John C. Bunnell
If it didn't work for you, John,
it didn't work...but check BATO
#22, page 5, and you'll see that we began foreshadowing their
conflict - with #32 firmly in mind - some time ago. - MWB
The Darknight Detective is gone. I can barely believe it. I also
can't believe the way you presented the story - not in a 4-issue
epic - not even in an issue-length story. Nope, you gave us a
15-page 4-color classic. Thank you! Most writers would've gone the
multi-issue route - heck, most of them would have to - but you
presented an incredible tale that showed us why Bats bowed out and
set us up for the next issue's story line as well. And then, if that
wasn't enough, you gave us a great 7-page story which gave us a lot
of insight into The Outsiders' newest member, Looker. I find this
story line as interesting as any you've presented.
Wind Gap, PA
Congratulations on the final issue of BATO. In only three pages you managed to write the
worst characterization of Batman I have ever read. Remember his line
about hearing the cries of the dying from BATO #1. Batman is not against saving the world,
he is against ignoring crime and injustice of any type, which he
believed the JLA was doing.
It would have been much more within The Batman's personality to tell
Brion that Gotham came first, and have Brion quit, saying that he
could not go along with that belief. Then the rest of The Outsiders
could have decided to go along with Brion, believing they could do
more good in Markovia.
For 32 issues, BATO contained some of the finest characterization
ever written for Batman. It is a shame that the final issue had to
be so poorly writtten. I only hope Batman's appearance in OUTSIDERS ANNUAL #1 will
somehow remedy the mistakes made in this issue.
Okay, so I knew Batman and The Outsiders were going to part company
this issue. Let's face it, 99% of the stories in comics have totally
predictable endings, but can still be enjoyed for the way in which
the writer and artist arive at that conclusion. What made it so much
more than a mere "split" was the manner in which you told us so much
about Batman's motives and ability to manipulate his ex-partners
into deciding to stay together even without their mentor. The shrewd
Caped Crusader knew it was time for his "children" to "leave home"
and face the big, bad world on their own, so he deliberately baited
Geo-Force, Katana (he's lucky to have his lungs intact!), and Co.
into making their "free" choice. I savored panels 1 and 3 of page
14. A most eloquent use of words and pictures which merits high
praise. (But it's too cold to climb on the roof, so I'll praise you
from down here, okay?)
The Looker story was delightful, a great insight (I hesitate to say
"look") into the mind of Lia (nee Emily) Briggs. It's easy to
understand how Lia and Greg ended up estranged. Forgive me if I hold
out hopes for a happy reunion in the future; I'm just a sentimental
I will miss the "BATO" abbreviation. Somehow, "AOTO" doesn't have
quite the same ring to it. Ah well, that's life.
That's what all the people say -
Of course we have all known for months now that Batman and The Outsiders would
soon be going their separate ways. We have been told and told and
told that the story featuring this event was imminent and now, in BATO #32, it is here.
Mike, I usually love your writing, but this event was just not up to
par after the buildup it received. Batman's attitude and motivation
for leaving the group were consistant with his leaving the JLA in BATO #1, but the self-pitying
tripe at the bottom of page14 was not consistant with any portrayal
At any rate, it seems that the important thing is that The Batman left, not how.
So off we go with The Outsiders on their own. Meanwhile, Batman -
who was the reason I started reading BATO - goes off in a huff, mad at The Outsiders, and the JLA. But wait! I
understand Bats is going to re-join the JLA. Great. I love
consistant motivation. Has the JLA team been reading BATO, Mike?
Wouldn't surprise me, Mic - they have to get their ideas from
somewhere. - MWB
Dear Mike, Alan, John & Adrienne:
BATO #32 was major
disappointment! This has nothing to do with the story or the
artwork. It is only that The Batman has left the group on such a
sour note. I knew he was leaving from reading THE OUTSIDERS, but I'm sorry to
see him go.
Mike, your story was great! You kept the action flowing in both
Markovia and Gotham. My only negative comment is Batman's sourness
as shown on page 13 when he tries to dissolve The Outsiders, and his
self-pity when he talks of Dick leaving, The Outsiders leaving, and
his belief that Jason will leave someday. I consider Batman too
stoic for such sour grapes.
Alan and Adrienne are a great team. The vibrant reds and yellows on
the cover made a nice contrast with the black of the shadows. They
carried this mood throughout the story. Please give yourselves a pat
on the back. The back-up story, "Looker's Body: An Owner's Manual,"
while a little sexist, was great fun. I particularly liked Lia's
effect on the snobbish head waiter on page 4 and when she socked it
to her former boss on page 6. It shows the effect externals have on
ourselves and others. Would Emily have had the nerve to do this, and
if so, would the head waiter or Mr. Benson have taken it? I don't
think so. All in all, an enjoyable story - do it again!
Well, on to Markovia, but alas, without Batman.
Adrienne thanks you for the praise
on her use of hues, but reminds you that the cover was colored by
her ever-lovin' hubby, Tony Tollin, who colors most of the BATO
(and AOTO) covers. Said cover was (for the sake of completeness)
designed by cover editor Ed Hannigan before Alan Davis worked his
magic on it. Good job, both of you! - MWB
Dear Mike & Alan (& Adrienne & John & Barbara
You all deserve a pat on the back for your triumph in BATO #32. I was a little
disappointed with the cover, but the splash page more than made up
It's great seeing Baron Bedlam again (finally!). I assume that BB's
"friend" from the Epilogue was the Bad Samaritan from OUTSIDERS #s 3 & 4.)
It's also great seeing the Masters of Disaster once more. They've
never looked better, Alan illustrates them well. (Their entry in WHO'S WHO #14 was first-rate,
The situation causing the breakup was unexpected, yet realistic and
well-handled. Brion's anger was justified, and the panels depicting
it were perfect. In a way, I'll miss The Batman, yet The Outsiders
are good on their own.
"Looker's Body: An Owner's Manual" was very interesting. I knew she
was going to be conceited. I hope she changes soon. It doesn't become her.
Dear Mr. Barr,
When I bought OUTSIDERS
#1, I did not like Lia Briggs. I liked Looker's power, and certainly
her body, but was not impressed with Lia's personality. From what I
knew of Emily Briggs, I thought Lia would be a shy, unassuming
character with whom it would be easy to be sympathetic. However, Lia
was a brazen, bold, and belligerent woman who seemed to have
forgotton her husband.
The problem was that I was reading THE OUTSIDERS before Looker's origin. The origin
was an interesting and well-told tale, but the back-up in BATO #32 blew me away. This
story is the best characterization I have ever read in a comic book.
Both Lia and Greg were so human they came right off the page. Lia's
excitement about the new her was very natural; wanting to do things
she found difficult before like shopping for clothes, speaking up to
her new employer, etc., was a normal reaction. But even more
interesting was Greg's reaction to the new Lia. From this story, it
seems Greg need a woman that needs to lean on him. Greg is going to
have a more difficult time adjusting to his wife's new body than she
is. Subsequent issues of THE OUTSIDERS have shown more light on
Greg's relationship with Lia. The sum total of these issues have
given the readers the most interesting and natural development of a
character in a very long time. I can not wait for the next issues of
both books. Keep up the good work.
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