Letters column from Adventures of the Outsiders #36, August 1986

Inside the Outsiders

Dear Mike,

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.

Neal Alhadeff

Dear Editor,

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
Salem, OR

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

Dear Mike,

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.

Mike Griffith
Wind Gap, PA

Dear Mike,

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.

Andrew Gold
Philadelphia, PA

Dear Mike,

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 fogey.

I will miss the "BATO" abbreviation. Somehow, "AOTO" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Ah well, that's life.

Dale Coe
Cheshire, England

That's what all the people say - MWB

Dear Sirs,

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 of Batman.

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?

Mic McConnell
Richmond, VA

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.

Bob Daniels
Albany, NY

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 >PHEW!<):

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 for it.

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, too.)

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.

Michael Kindness
Chicopee, MA

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.

Ernie Tubbs
Chattanooga, TN

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