Batman and The Outsiders #9 continues the threads of the Ras Al Ghul story arc. The characters of Jefferson Pierce a.k.a Black Lightning and Tatsu a.k.a Katana are mirroring their young Outsider proteges Duke Thomas and Cassandra Cain. As their bonds continue to grow they seem to be separating themselves from the Dark Knight and this is leading them down the path that the Demon Ras Al Ghul has set out for them.

Let’s get into the story, shall we!! We finished issue #8 with the death of a teacher who we’ve come to learn is a personal friend of Jefferson Pierce. Jefferson, as we can all possibly imagine, does not take this well and there is no amount of understanding and consoling words from Batman that will make Jefferson feel better. This is a play off of issue 8 where Jefferson finds out that Alfred has been killed and offers words consolation to Bruce. I am loving the character development we see from Black Lightning in this series. He is shown to be an emotionally strong man with a heart of gold but that will be tested as this series moves forward. The other interesting aspect of this series is the unspoken relationship between Jefferson and Tatsu, when this series started they were little more than co-captains on Batman’s ragtag team of “Outsiders” but they’ve really come into their own as team leaders and have thrived on this team in ways that Batman never could because of his absence and inability to connect emotionally. Tatsu and Jefferson have opened up in ways that we haven’t really seen them open up to anyone and it’s a refreshing take on their characters.

Duke Thomas on the other hand is coping with the fact that Ras Al Ghul has unlocked a power in Duke that he didn’t know was buried within him. Duke is struggling to find out not only how to deal with this power but he’s also being careful to not let it consume him for fear of this being all part of Ras’s grand plan. Did I forget to mention that in the last few issues Duke and Cassandra Cain (Orphan) have also grown closer together….. Much like what is happening with the Jefferson and Tatsu, Duke and Cassandra have learned to trust and depend on each other. Growing closer during the events of Year of the Villain, with Cassandra essentially saving Duke, they are afraid of being cast aside by the Bat and so they rely on each other for support. Eventually, Orphan and Signal go out on patrol to test his new powers and are confronted by Batman!! A few words are exchanged when they are joined by Superman… nothing eventful really happens here. We finally catch up with Jefferson and Tatsu long enough for them to say goodnight and head to their separate rooms only for Jefferson to be greeted by Shiva who comes with a proposition….she can lead him to the man responsible for his friend’s death and together they can kill him.

Not a bad way to end this issue, I am interested in seeing what happens with Tatsu and Jefferson while being equally invested in Duke and Cassandra’s relationship. Bryan Hill is doing an amazing job writing this series, he really seems to understand the mystique and tragedy behind Batman and it shows especially in the moments where it’s just Bruce and Jefferson. Jefferson’s dynamic and the way he balances out all the other characters is a genius move on Hill’s part. Veronica Gandini’s artwork really gives these issues a depth that they would be sorely lacking! Fantastic job by everyone involved!!

See below for what’s to come in the next Issue!!!

written by BRYAN HILL
variant cover by CHRIS BURNHAM
When Batman recruited Black Lightning to join the Outsiders, he warned him of the dark world he was entering. Black Lightning shrugged it off, but now that Ra’s al Ghul has gone after him directly, the darkness Batman warned of has enveloped him. Will the Outsiders be able to free him from it?