Batman and The Outsiders Annual #1 Comic Review
Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Max Raynor
Colors: Luis Guerrero
Letterer: ALW Studios’ Troy Peteri
Cover: Dexter Soy, Arif Prianto & Riley Rossmo
Into The Soultaker
“Your Soul Is Mine!”
What You Need To Know
Black Lightning and Katana take a trip to Tokyo to get more information on the dark forces within her sword. Katana learns that her ancestry has fated her to confront the horrors of her family history in order to regain control of the Soultaker sword. Facing the demons that have plagued her family may lead Katana to paying the ultimate price.
What Just Happened
This issue begins with Katana telling Black Lightning a story of her ancestor overcoming great evil. Katana believes the evil demon her ancestor vanquished, Tsutomo, is tormenting her husband’s soul in the Soultaker sword. Katana and Black Lightning are in Tokyo to see a criminal named Eiko to get advice on how to exorcise the demon in her sword. Eiko suggests that Katana follow in her ancestor’s footsteps and fight the demon herself by journeying into her sword. Eiko tells Katana that she must die in order to venture into her sword.
Inside the Soultaker, Katana’s husband, Maseo is being tortured by Tsutomo to draw her to them. Katana uses Soultaker on herself in order to face Tsutomo. Katana asks Black Lightning to watch over her body as her soul ventures into her sword because if she is successful she will return to her body. Katana enters the realm in her sword and meets her ancestor, Miyako.
Back on Earth, Black Lightning is attacked by demons trying to free Tsutomo from the sword. Miyako asks Katana to give into the power that is present in the realm, and Katana refuses to preserve her sanity. Black Lightning and Katana are overwhelmed by the demons inside and outside of the sword. Katana decides to give in to the power of her ancestor and rises to face Tsutomo. Katana beheads the demon. Katana briefly reunites with her husband before returning to the land of the living. Katana destroys the last of the demons. Katana fears what she has become.
Bryan Hill takes a break from the “Lesser Gods” storyline to tell a self-contained story in this week’s annual issue. Katana is the star of this story and her Soultaker sword is not only the challenge she must overcome, but also the setting of the major conflict in this issue. This might seem strange, but Katana has learned of a way to enter the Soultaker sword to avenge her family’s name and save her husband’s soul. The price Katana must pay though, is life altering. Black Lightning is present for backup but Katana’s plight is difficult for him to comprehend. I actually did not really like how Hill portrays Jefferson as being ignorant to not only Katana’s plight, but seemingly ignorant to Japanese culture as a whole. I’m not saying that to say that Jefferson is expected be an expert in Japanese culture, I just believe he is usually a knowledgeable character that makes sure he is well informed. This is especially true if Jefferson is in a potentially life-threatening situation.
Despite that one gripe, this is a mostly solid issue. Black Lightning and Katana make good partners and it seems like there is potential for them to become something more. Katana venturing into her own sword was a trippy experience and visual. Experiencing Katana channel her ancestors to battle an ancient demon was an engaging read. I would have liked to see Black Lightning do more in this issue, but this was a Katana spotlight from the start and Black Lightning plays the supporting role well. I hope Black Lightning gets a similar spotlight issue soon. Katana’s ordeal inside Soultaker has changed her, and I’m interested in seeing if the change is better for her and The Outsiders or another potential obstacle for them to overcome.
I actually prefer the art in this issue to the art seen in the first couple issues of Batman and the Outsiders. Characters are more normally proportioned and the art and colors are sharper. I’d actually like Max Raynor and Luis Guerrero to handle the art and colors as this series continues.