The Outsiders have a long and varied history at DC Comics. Many teams have used the name, for a variety of purposes. This includes a team, premiering in a new Dawn of DC series, that operates independently of Batman. This is notable, as Batman and the Outsiders normally go together like peanut butter and jelly.
The First Incarnation of Batman and the Outsiders
The first Outsiders came together by chance, shortly after Batman resigned from the Justice League. This was due to Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox being taken hostage after war broke out in the nation of Markovia. With the League being restricted from getting involved in international incidents, Batman couldn’t count on them in rescuing his friend.
Batman partnered with Black Lightning, but the two encountered unexpected allies in their battle with the despot Baron Bedlam. These included the assassin Katana, an amnesiac girl with light powers Batman named Halo, the element man Metamorpho, and the earth-shifting Geo-Force. Once Lucius Fox was rescued, Batman decided to continuing working with the new heroes, offering them his training and support.
Unfortunately, Batman and the Outsiders soon ran into the same problems that Batman had with the Justice League. Batman viewed the team as his personal army, and did not allow them to operate independent of his own plans. The final straw was Batman withholding information from Geo-Force regarding the resurrection of Baron Bedlam and a new attack on Markovia. Batman tried to dissolve the Outsiders, but they refused to abandon each other.
The Outsiders relocated to Los Angeles, recruiting the metahuman telepath Looker. This incarnation of the Outsiders continued to operate on a global level, dealing with problems the Justice League could not. The team disbanded in 1988 in Outsiders #28.
The Outsiders in the 1990s
Geo-Force reformed the Outsiders in 1993, after Markovia was taken over by vampires. The new team lacked Black Lighting, Metamorpho, and Batman. In their place were the new heroes Technocrat, Wylde, and Faust.
This incarnation, heavily influenced by the Image Comics aesthetic of the time, did not last long. The only notable story element that came of it was Looker becoming a vampire. This second volume of Outsiders ended after 26 issues in 1995.
The New Outsiders of the 2000s
Shortly after the dissolution of the Titans and Young Justice in 2003, Nightwing formed a new covert group. This team would act as hunters, targeting supervillains before they could do any damage. They adopted the Outsiders name, though the team had no direct connection to Batman and the Outsiders.
This team was largely made up of the children and proteges of the Outsiders. Eventually this team was recruited by the espionage agency Checkmate, to act as their covert superhero team. Their series, the third volume of Outsiders, ran for 50 issues until 2007.
The Second Incarnation of Batman and the Outsiders
After cutting ties with Checkmate, Nightwing gave control of the Outsiders to Batman. He immediately began cleaning house, removing those young heroes he found to be undisciplined. The new team came to include Outsiders mainstays like Katana, Black Lightning, Geo-Force, and Metamorpho. Batman also recruited new blood, including Catwoman, the Cassandra Cain Batgirl, and Green Arrow.
This team was apparently dissolved in the wake of the Batman RIP event and Bruce Wayne’s death. However, Alfred Pennyworth organized a new Outsiders, at Batman’s direction. This team consisted of Black Lightning, Geo-Force, Halo, Katana, Metamorpho, the Creeper, and a heroic Owlman. Their series, the fourth volume of Outsiders, ran for 25 issues until 2011.
Outsiders in the New 52
The Outsiders were reintroduced in the New 52 era as a covert wing of Batman Incorporated. Under the command or Red Robin Tim Drake, the team consisted of Metamorpho, Katana, Looker, Halo, and Freight Train. This incarnation was short-lived, however, and were briefly presumed dead except for Red Robin. They were later confirmed to be alive in the second volume of Batman Incorporated in 2012.
A different group using the Outsiders name was introduced in the New 52 Green Arrow series. Writer Jeff Lemire created a collective of clans, called the Outsiders, based around the mastery of primitive weapons. Oliver Queen’s family was tied to the Arrow Clan, and Katana’s sword was said to be the ancestral totem of the Sword Clan. This group has not been referenced since Lemire’s run on Green Arrow ended.
The Third Incarnation of Batman and the Outsiders
Batman and the Outsiders were next seen working together during the Dark Nights: Metal event in 2017. Batman reassembled the original Outsiders to search for rare metals independent of the Justice League and Batman Family. The team apparently parted ways again after this mission.
In 2018, Batman started a new Outsiders team, after teaming with Black Lightning to fight a villain called Karma. The new team also included Katana, Cassandra Cain (now called Orphan), and Signal. Black Lightning later took over this Outsiders team, giving it a more modular structure. The new Outsiders switched Orphan out for Metamorpho with a rotating fifth chair.
Outsiders in the Dawn of DC
The latest incarnation of the Outsiders has no direct connection to Batman. Indeed, the first issue of the Dawn of DC Outsiders series establishes that they are trying to avoid Batman’s attention. FInanced by Luke Fox, with the guidance of his father, Lucius, the new Outsiders are devoted to exploring the unknown, and stopping crises before they can start.