Inside to the Outside

An introduction, to be exact, on the history of the Outsiders

By Avi Green

The Outsiders first appeared in July 1983 in an extra story featured in the last issue of the Brave and the Bold #200, which, in its latter years, had largely become an anthology series for the team’s original leader, Batman. Bruce Wayne, alias the Bat, helped to found the team when dissatisfied with how the Justice League of America wouldn’t involve itself in world affairs, or, more precisely, human interest story elements, which were among the things that the series created by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo included during the five years they were first in business. Most importantly though, was that Batman had to rescue one of his employees at Wayne Enterprises, that being senior executive Lucius Fox, who'd been taken prisoner in Markovia, where a civil war had erupted, and Fox had been captured by the enemy side, led by the evil Baron Bedlam. Unable to enlist help from the Justice League because they'd caved to State Department pressure not to intervene, Batman became disillusioned with them, and instead turned to such heroes as Black Lightning and Metamorpho to work out the daring rescue mission behind enemy lines, which led to meeting three other great characters, Geo-Force, Katana and Halo, who'd help to form - the Outsiders!

While neither the starting series or its Baxter-deluxe spinoff ran as long as they could’ve (actually, what happened was that Batman/Adventures officially ended with #38 to make way for the Baxter series, which more or less continued for it), it was still a very quirky and quite often very entertaining team concept, featuring some very interesting cast members, which besides Batman included Metamorpho, the superhero who’d first appeared in the mid-60’s whose body had turned colored and was able to stretch and change shape into many other different things, Black Lightning, the first black DC superhero to get his own title when he first appeared in 1977, Katana, a Japanese housewife whose family had been murdered by the Yakuza, who took to training in samurai skills to avenge her relatives, Halo, a teenaged crimefighter with flying and freezing-powers for whom Katana was something of a mentor, Looker, a most sexy babe with telepathy and telekinesis who could be quite a seductress, and even Geo-Force, who was a prince from Markovia, and the half-brother of the teen-villainess Terra, who’d been Deathstroke’s key weapon to infiltrating the Teen Titans in the famous Judas Contract storyline from the mid-80’s. (Speaking of which, the Titans and the Outsiders even guest starred in each other’s books at least once during that time too, and their causes for crime-fighting were often similar too.) His brother, Gregor Markov, was the king of the country, and helped fund the Outsiders on many of their crimefighting adventures together. Their headquarters were located either in Los Angeles, or in Markovia itself.

In fact, they even had a reformed crook join their ranks, that being Windfall, alias Wendy Jones, a former member of the Masters of Disaster and sister of that gang’s leader, New Wave. Indeed, there were quite a few very interesting developments that occurred during the run of this title.

As mentioned above, there were two series to begin with at the time, the one being Batman and the Outsiders, which later became Adventures of the Outsiders when Batman left the team in 1986, and even the sans-adjective Outsiders, which was published on Baxter paper during the time that it ran too. Batman/Adventures ran from 1983-1987, and The Outsiders ran from 1985-1988, and towards the end, Batman rejoined for a few more adventures with them. Afterwards, the team members disbanded for some time, and then, five years later, there came another try, with the Outsiders being tried out again in 1993, and which ran for about another three years. Metamorpho wasn’t part of it this time, because he had joined up with the Justice League International, after having turned down a membership - just like Black Lightning had several years before in 1979-80 - while Batman became more of a member of Justice League America. The really sad thing about this mid-90’s revival was that Looker was turned into a vampire, which could suggest that the door is still open for a save and return to full time living for her. I certainly hope so.

One of the things that Outsiders was most known for during its time was that, during the 80’s, it was one of the most unabashedly and unapologetically liberal titles in presenting its viewpoints, and as such, succeeded in drawing plenty of controversy, as was certainly evident in its letter pages. But at the same time, it still managed to entertain, and for a series with a liberal slant to it, it was considerably much better written than a lot of post-2000 titles with allegedly similar approaches. And, it also did very well in portraying the stars realistically when it came to human relations. It's also considerably better than the botched volumes that came up circa 2003, which were built off some of the worst premises possible, like killing off Donna Troy and Lilith Clay in a miniseries written by the awful Judd Winick called Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day that didn't have any true or convincing menaces featured. Nor was the premise of Black Lightning having a daughter named Thunder plausibly developed.

This website is devoted to covering the profiles and such of the various characters who made up the Outsiders from the 80s till the mid-90s. And I’ll do my best to offer some pictures and various other bits of data too whenever I can. I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to offer here, and what thoughts and opinions I’ll be publishing here too.

So for now, let’s head on outside, and take a nice good look inside!

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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