Across the DC Universe #30 - Part 1

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Batman may be "gone" but his presence is still being felt.... In the first half of this week’s DC analysis we’re considering the twists and turns in the lives of the Dark Knight’s loved ones and the plans the Caped Crusader set in motion in the event of his death. So it’s beers all round in the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge as we catch up on the gossip in Gotham. Before we do, though, don’t forget our Spoiler Warning: Read no further if you’ve not had your DC fix this week and don’t want to read about key story elements.

Adventures of the Outsiders

After last week’s Batman and the Outsiders Special #1 the ongoing series celebrates the beginning of the Tomasi era by reverting to the more economical nomenclature of Outsiders with #15. There’s a spot of mild retconning occurring here but it does tie directly into the original ‘80s series. Alfred Pennyworth informs the new team (Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Katana, Geo-Force, Halo, the Creeper and Owlman) that Bruce Wayne always had a very specific mission in mind for the Outsiders and, from beyond the grave, he has seen to it said mission would continue.

For years the original team were, unbeknownst to themselves, fighting against an unseen enemy who were manipulating villains like the Duke of Oil, Baron Bedlam, the Force of July, the Masters of Disaster et al. against them. (There’s a very handy Showcase edition of many of these stories available for those who want to catch up).

The last couple of pages of the BATO Special last week introduced us to this group and, for the assembled heroes of the latest lineup, the sacrifice they must make to rejoin the war against this threat is a big one: they have to cut all ties with their former lives and truly become "Outsiders". The continuity point that interested me most in this issue was Halo no longer referring to herself as Gabrielle Doe but rather as Violet Harper. Halo is, in fact, an alien known as an Aurakle who inhabits the body of the deceased sociopath Harper. Interesting...

Also of note is the "Origins and Omens" backup story that intimates many tensions between team members in the months to come, a follow-up to the Deathstroke/Geo-Force clash in DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1 and the possibility that Halo’s spectrum-powered abilities may be of some greater significance when "Blackest Night" comes around.

While we’re on the subject of the Outsiders, Jefferson Pierce’s rewritten beginnings continue this week in Black Lightning: Year One #4. Over in Vigilante #3 Nightwing, former team leader in the Winick run, is confronted by the titular anti-hero as his investigation into Jericho’s role in the election bombings makes some significant headway. This follows on from events in both DC Universe: Decisions and recent issues of Titans and is essential reading for those intending to pick up next month’s Titans/Teen Titans/Vigilante crossover "Deathtrap".

Batman: Gotham Knights

Recent failures lead Barbara Gordon to disband the team in Birds of Prey #127, but not before the BoP finally take down their recent nemeses the Calculator and the Silicon Syndicate. This "Last Rites" tie-in is the final issue of the series but many of the characters will be popping up elsewhere in the DC line in the coming months.

Barbara Gordon and the Calculator’s stories continues in the Oracle: The Cure miniseries where Oracle’s failure to stop the villain in BoP will be addressed. Dinah Lance can be seen in Green Arrow and Black Canary while Manhunter, Huntress and, presumably, Misfit have roles to play in the Battle for the Cowl storyline. The Guardian"Origins and Omens" backup in Action Comics # 874 may give some hints as to Lady Blackhawk’s future role in the DCU...

The advance solicitations for this issue implied Infinity’s identity would be revealed in the "Origins and Omens" tale. That doesn’t prove to be the case, although more Calculator, a parting of the ways with Black Canary, a death and Barbara contemplating her Batgirl identity are all in Oracle’s near future.

Also coming to a conclusion with #183 this week is the long-running Robin series. A confrontation with Lady Shiva acts as a framing sequence as potential candidates for Batman’s cowl start to line up and we’re reminded, in no uncertain terms, that the threat of Anarky is still out there. Tim’s final speech in the main story would lead me to believe he could be about to again take up the Red Robin identity he adopted recently.

The "Origins and Omens" pages give Tim a sense of closure as he takes out the Obeah Man, the villain who murdered his mother in the story in  Detective Comics #s 618-621 (July-Sep 1990). I was under the impression that the Obeah Man burnt to death in that same arc but, apparently, he’s been in prison in Haiti all this time. The cover to Robin #183 gives a more satisfying nod to the past echoing, as it does, the cover to the first issue of the very first Tim Drake Robin miniseries (Jan 1991).

If you were wondering what Ra’s Al Ghul’s next move would be after his hissy fit about not getting to kill the Dark Knight himself (in Nightwing #152) the "Origins and Omens" entry also foreshadows the mastermind’s involvement in Tim’s life in the near future.

In Trinity #38 events on what I’ve been terming "Earth-Krona" are coming to a climax as the Trinity’s loved ones finally seem to reach their mentors. Have they convinced them of the need to renounce their godhood on this world and return to New Earth? With the forces of the Dark Arcana on the mainstream DC Earth looking set to win the battle to control reality it’s not a moment too soon.

Join us tomorrow when we complete this week’s roundup with more on Superwoman, a last trip to Earth-Tangent and the mysteries surrounding the Milestone characters...

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