DC fans have plenty to look forward to in 2019. The new year kicked off with the long-awaited return of the animated series Young Justice, which is now exclusive to the DC Universe app. Not only that, but the new season is introducing a new super-team with a long history in the DCU – the Outsiders.
Who are the Outsiders, and what sets them apart from teams like the Teen Titans and Justice League? Here’s everything you need to know about this group and how they might play into the new season of Young Justice…
The Outsiders Explained: The Basics
Some missions are too dangerous or politically sensitive for the Justice League to handle. When Batman needs a team willing to get its hands dirty, he brings in the Outsiders. The Outsiders are heroes who exist in the shadows. Whether because of their powers or their use of extreme force, they don’t fit in with the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman. Despite this, they’ve saved the world many times over. That’s remained true no matter how many changes and new incarnations this team goes through.
The Outsiders’ Major Members
While the lineup of the Outsiders is constantly changing, there tend to be a handful of recurring characters across most versions of the team.
Batman – Batman spearheaded the original incarnation of the Outsiders and tends to be the team’s designated leader. Batman provides the team with the resources it needs to operate, including satellite Batcaves that serve as secret bases.
Black Lightning – Jefferson Pierce is a metahuman who can manipulate electricity.
Katana – Tatsu Yamashiro is a master martial artist and assassin. She wields a mystical sword called the Soultaker that literally steals the souls of the people it kills and even houses the spirit of her dead husband.
Metamorpho – Former adventurer Rex Mason was transformed by a radioactive comet, allowing him to shape-shift and transform his body into any combination of elements he chooses.
Geo-Force – Prince Brion of Markovia willingly subjected himself to genetic experimentation in order to defend his homeland, gaining the ability to manipulate geologic forces. He’s also the brother of former Teen Titan Terra.
Halo – When Violet Harper’s body became fused with an alien being known as an Aurakle, the result was a new superhuman being capable of generating powerful auras. Each color aura harnesses a different ability.
Looker – After being exposed to Haley’s Comet, plain, introverted Emily Briggs was transformed into a beautiful woman with powerful psionic abilities. She was later turned into a vampire for good measure.
Nightwing/Red Robin – Both Dick Grayson and Tim Drake have followed in Batman’s footsteps by leading different incarnations of the Outsiders at one point or another.
The Outsiders: Origin and Background
The Outsiders made their debut in 1983’s The Brave and the Bold #200 before spinning out into their own monthly comic, Batman and the Outsiders. The team was initially formed by Batman after the Dark Knight became frustrated by the Justice League’s inability to intervene in a political crisis in the small European nation of Markovia. This first team was brought together by circumstance, with Batman and Black Lightning travelling to Markovia to rescue Lucius Fox and eventually joining forces with Geo-Force, Metamorpho, Katana and Halo.
After defeating the throne-usurping Baron Bedlam, the Outsiders agreed to stay together and continue fighting threats too dangerous or politically sensitive for teams like the Justice League to handle. And while the original Batman and the Outsiders series was canceled after 46 issues, that basic mandate has survived in nearly every new incarnation of the team that’s followed.
The Outsiders underwent a significant transformation in 2003’s Outsiders Vol. 3. This time, Nightwing and Arsenal were responsible for bringing the team together, resulting in one of the longest-lived incarnations of the group to date. The team has continued to cycle through several incarnations, including one version led by Red Robin and designed to be the black ops division for Bruce Wayne’s global Batman Incorporated initiative.
In 2013, a completely different version of the Outsiders debuted in the pages of Green Lantern. This group is comprised of six warrior clans, each one devoted to a different weapon. It was here that Oliver Queen learned his father was once the leader of the Arrow Clan, a position coveted by the vengeful villain Komodo.
Since then, DC has reintroduced a more traditional version of the Outsiders, with that team set to appear in a new Batman and the Outsiders comic in 2019.
The Outsiders: Beyond the Comics
While individual members of the Outsiders have appeared in various DC TV shows over the years, the team itself didn’t make its small screen debut until 2008’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold. That series re-imagined the team as teenage heroes who are often brainwashed by DC villains until being rescued by Batman. The Outsiders have been teased or referenced in several other DC shows, including Beware the Batman, Arrow and Black Lightning.
A distorted version of the team also appeared in the 2010 animated movie Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. There they were depicted as “The Owlman Faction,” super-powered servants of Batman’s evil doppelganger Owlman.
The Outsiders are now returning to the small screen thanks to the third season of Young Justice. That series is introducing a version of the team heavily influenced by the original Batman and the Outsiders comic. The team’s official roster will include Geo-Force, Forager, Tigress and Halo, with Black Lightning, Superboy and Nightwing serving as mentors. Check out our interview with Young Justice’s showrunners for more on how the series is drawing from DC’s comics.