The Batman family is getting a bit bigger, as Black Lightning is being called in train Bruce's sidekicks... as a new team of Outsiders? That end goal isn't yet clear, but is definitely what's being teased as DC's Detective Comics comic shifts to a new creative team.
Given Bruce Wayne's recent months, realizing that he may not be the best person to guide Duke Thomas, Cassandra Cain, or any other unannounced recruits is actually a sign of growth. But in asking Black Lightning to guide these young heroes where he can't, will Batman become the very thing these outsiders are supposed to stop?
That question will almost certainly form a bulk of the coming stories in Detective, as solicits for future issues through the summer confirm Jefferson Pierce will be accepting Bruce's job offer. And in the last issue of DC's latest Justice League-relaunching No Justice event, that actual scene between Bruce and Jefferson is glimpsed.
Some fans will certainly be disappointed to see Batman taking what might appear to be a smaller role in Duke and Cassandra's lives and rise to adulthood. Especially after Tim Drake left the Batman family to pursue life and mysteries of his own with his former girlfriend, Stephanie Brown. With more and more former wards leaving the nest at the conclusion of James Tynion's Detective Comics Rebirth, some will have hoped that meant a bigger role awaited Duke and Cassandra.
But fear not, since the cover art and synopses for the coming arc of Detective show that The Signal and Orphan will be key players in the story. They aren't the only heroes set to join in alongside Black Lightning, but we won't spoil those reveals for now. All we'll say is that older DC Comics fans who have felt the absence of The Outsiders - the team of young, edgy, rebel heroes assembled by Batman - should be pleased.
The title of Black Lightning's first Detective arc? "On the Outside." Clearly, the language used by Bruce when pitching the assignment to Jefferson has stuck. Although what dangers and duties await Black Lightning and his new protégés "from the outside" aren't entirely clear. All we know is that, like so many other threats in DC's universe, Amanda Waller is at the center of it.
It doesn't seem like readers interested in this new version of "Outsiders" will need to do too much homework into recent storylines they missed (either METAL, or No Justice more recently). If you know how much information Brainiac tends to keep filed away for future use, then you'll know why Amanda Waller, the head of the Suicide Squad getting her hands on ALL of it is bad news for everyone.
But if Batman is turning to Black Lightning for help, he had better hand over all the information and motivations he's currently dealing with. Because Black Lightning isn't the kind of antiheroic, distrustful mastermind Batman has been in the past. So if Bruce Wayne doesn't tread carefully, he might end up as an opponent to Jefferson - rendering his former protégés even truer Outsiders than he may have intended.
Unless... that's what he intended all along. With Batman, you can never really be sure.
Detective Comics #983 arrives on June 27th from DC Comics.