Arsenal lured Nightwing into his new merry band of superheroes by saying that it wouldn’t be like the Titans. He promised that they wouldn’t be a family, that it would be just a job. Unfortunately, Nightwing took him literally and while he’s a good team leader, without the bonds of affection he’s neither inspired nor inspiring. The end of the previous volume saw the team in shambles, and some members in the hospital in critical condition. Now they’re all questioning Nightwing’s leadership. That, however, isn’t the biggest problem. It turns out Optitron isn’t quite the anonymous benefactor the Outsiders thought. In fact it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises. And, because Nightwing doesn’t have enough Bat-Daddy issues to be getting on with, Arsenal’s been getting mission information from Deathstroke dressed up as Batman. Along the way shape-shifting sex is had, Arsenal’s daughter is kidnapped, infiltrators are rooted out, and Nightwing is once again reminded that when push comes to shove he picks up the pieces better than most.
I loved the character development in this volume. Arsenal’s terror at the threat to his daughter, and his cool calculation when chastising Nightwing and figuring out who’s the mole in the organization. Outsiders seems like a team story, but at its core it’s about Arsenal and his relationships with the people around him. I wasn’t fond of the art in this volume. The colors seemed murky and the characters tended to look like they had either escaped from a ’70s billboard ad, or from a punk rock concert poster. One of the things that makes superhero comics work is a sense of dynamic movement in the art. These are characters who express themselves much more fluently through action and movement than though words. And, while Judd Winick provides them with both witty banter and eloquent silences, the art has a curiously static quality and does not quite complement the story as much as it should.