WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman and the Outsiders #12 by Bryan Hill, Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Batman has never shied away from bringing new heroes into his Bat-Family. The Dark Knight has had a number of different sidekicks and partners like the Robins, Batgirls, Batwoman, Bluebird, Signal and many others. At one point, Batman’s crimefighting empire even increased in size to such a degree that he had to create Batman Incorporated to take his mission globally.
However, one group that is sometimes overlooked in DC’s history is Batman’s association with the Outsiders. Though they may not be the Justice League, Batman is a founding member of the original Outsiders, with a modern iteration of the team forming in the aftermath of Dark Nights: Metal under the helm of Bryan Hill, Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini and Clayton Cowles. Hill laid the groundwork for the new Outsiders during his run on Detective Comics, with the first issue of Batman and the Outsiders gathering Black Lightning, Katana, Signal and Orphan. Their first mission from Batman sent the Outsiders to find a missing woman who would later become DC’s newest superhero: Sofia Ramos.
Sofia has a tragic backstory that involves a secret link to the Dark Knight. A sinister organization of billionaires started what became known as the “Ark Program” to build their own metahuman army. Sofia and her parents were victims of this program, and they became its only survivors after Batman shut the operation down. The Ramos Family was given an opportunity to have a normal life thanks to Batman setting them up with new identities. However, it was revealed the Ark Program was successful in giving Sofia and her parents metahuman abilities.
However, these new powers are what ultimately killed Ana, Sofia’s mother, shortly after the family relocated. The father, Gabriel, was later killed by one of Ra’s al Ghul’s assassins named Ishmael. Sofia’s unknown powers prevented Ishmael from also killing her, leaving Sofia to go on the run. This is where Batman and the Outsiders #1 picked up, and between then and Batman and the Outsiders #12, Sofia went from being brainwashed into joining Ra’s as Babylon to switching sides and officially becoming an Outsider, even though she still hasn’t chosen a codename of her own.
Sofia was given an enhanced healing factor and super-strength that’s tied to the amount of pain she can endure. And the more pain she takes in, the stronger she gets. Even though Sofia is still learning to use these abilities, the Outsiders and Lady Shiva hope they’ll come in handy when they travel to Ra’s al Ghul’s compound to take him down in Batman and the Outsiders #12. Ra’s has come into possession of alien technology that was being sold on the Markovian black market. Karma, another villain from Detective Comics, is tied to this technology through the mask he wore.
Once they enter the compound, which is actually the alien spaceship the technology comes from, the Outsiders find friend-turned-foe Kaliber and Karma impaled with swords in their chests. Apparently, they have outlived their usefulness to Ra’s. The only person still breathing is Ishmael, who takes his own life before delivering a message from his leader.
Ra’s then appears via a hologram to taunt Batman and display the effectiveness of his new weapons. Since Lady Shiva betrayed him, Ra’s destroys the small Chinese village where she was born as an example of the power he now commands. If Batman wants to spare anymore bloodshed, all he has to do is disband the Outsiders and deliver Signal, Sofia and Orphan to Ra’s. If Batman declines, then more cities will fall.
Unfortunately, the only point in Batman and the Outsiders #12 that Sofia gets a spotlight is at the beginning of the issue. Although the main focus in on Ra’s al Ghul and his ultimate weapon, Sofia still remains a central figure in his plans. This means Sofia may hold the key to stopping Ra’s once and for all, which could her the chance to truly cement herself alongside the other members of the Outsiders.
Batman and the Outsiders #12 sees the Dark Knight officially welcoming DC's newest hero to his DC's other superhero team.