Since his first appearance leading The Secret Society of Super-Villains, fans have guessed at the identity of The Outsider. I have my own theory about The Outsider's true identity, which I will reveal now.
I believe that The Outsider is the Alfred Pennyworth from The Crime Syndicate of America's Earth-3.
Here are my reasons for believing this is so:
The original Silver Age Outsider was Alfred Pennyworth.
The character The Outsider goes back to the 1960s. In 1964's Detective Comics #328, Batman's butler Alfred is killed when a boulder crushes him. Shortly thereafter, a mysterious criminal mastermind named The Outsider begins working in Gotham. In Detective Comics #356, it is revealed that a mad scientist brought Alfred back to life using a machine that also made Alfred evil and gave me the worst case of eczema ever.
At the end of the issue, Batman punches The Outsider onto the machine, activating it. This restores Alfred back to his usual happy, not-dead, not-evil self.
The New 52 Outsider looks like Alfred Pennyworth.
More than any other DC character, The Outsider looks like Alfred Pennyworth. Remove the color from the panel below and you'd be hard pressed to say if this was Alfred or The Outsider.
The Outsider knows where Batman lives.
Justice League of America #5 gives us many clues to the Outsider's identity, as you'll see in the panels below. After The Outsider kills Catwoman, he announces he's going to drop her body at Batman's doorstep. Signalman asks, "You have Batman's home address?" The Outsider responds, "Yes. Ha. I do."
The Outsider knows The Joker.
"If The Joker could see me now." It almost sounds like a throwaway line, so I wouldn't be surprised if most readers glossed over that panel as they read Justice League of America #5. But Geoff Johns is too good a writer to put that line in for no reason.
I think that line gives us a glimpse to the origin of both The Outsider's stark white skin and his tic where he says "Ha." in between lines of dialogue. Perhaps at some point on Earth 3, Alfred fell into a vat of the same acid that made The Joker.
The Outsider has a deep knowledge of all-things Batman.
He calls Catwoman Selina.
He has a map of the Batcave.
He knows everything there is to know about The Scarecrow.
The Outsider watched his world die.
This has been the clue most cited by people who think the New 52 Outsider and The Outsider from Flashpoint are one and the same. The Flashpoint universe in no more, perhaps The Outsider is the only survivor of it. But The Outsider from the Flashpoint universe looked nothing like Alfred. He was an Indian man named Michael Desai. Michael Desai and the current Outsider share little in common other than a love of well-tailored suits.
I think the world that the New 52 version of The Outsider watched die was not the world of Flashpoint, but rather the Earth that is home to the Crime Syndicate of America. In Earth 2 #1, it is revealed that Apokolips attacked Earth 2 and the main New 52 Earth at the same time. The main New 52 Earth's heroes fought off Darkseid and his hordes before they could do much damage. Earth 2 didn't get off as lucky, losing both Gotham, Metropolis and other cities, as well as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman before the might of Apokolips. There's a chance Earth 3 fared even worse.
On Earth 3, characters who are heroes on the main Earth are villains. The Justice League is the Crime Syndicate. Perhaps self-interest got in the way of the villains of Earth 3 being able to work with one another to fight back the hordes of Apokolips. I think this Outsider made his way through a boom tube from Earth 3 to the New 52 Earth, and has been plotting for a way to bring the Crime Syndicate of America over to the New 52 Earth since then. I strongly believe that Pandora's Box, the focus of the Trinity War crossover, will be the key to bringing the Crime Syndicate of America to the main Earth.
What if this scene that Madame Xanadu sees in her vision in Justice League #22 isn't a vision of the future, but a glimpse into Earth 3's past or present? Instead of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, what if that's Ultraman, Superwoman and Owlman?
The Crime Syndicate of America plays a huge role in Forever Evil.
Right after Trinity War concludes, the DC Universe will be thrust into Forever Evil. It is revealed in the promotional image below that the Crime Syndicate of America will be major players in this event. This makes me more firmly believe that the evil Alfred Pennyworth of Earth-3 is their herald on the main Earth, setting things up for the Crime Syndicate to take over. By settings things into motion for the Justice League to square off against the Justice League of America in Trinity War works in the Crime Syndicate's favor. Divide, conquer, and pick up the pieces.
"Forever Evil" is also the translation of the Latin phrase "Aeternus Malum" from the Secret Society's communicator coins, one side of which looks a lot like Death Storm from the Crime Syndicate of America.
With only one week to go before Trinity War concludes in Justice League #23 and two weeks before Forever Evil #1, I believe The Outsider true identity will be revealed very shortly, and that he will be revealed as the Alfred Pennyworth of Earth 3!
UPDATE! Two pages from the Justice League: Trinity War Director's Cut #1 give more credence to my theory that The Outsider is the Alfred from The Crime Syndicate's Earth!
Justice League: Trinity War Director's Cut #1 is a reprint of Justice League #22, but featuring Ivan Reis's artwork in penciled form. In the back of the issue is Geoff Johns's full script for Justice League #22.During Madame Xanadu's horrific vision, Johns specifically calls for Reis to draw Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman in sillouette, and then refers to them as SUPERMAN-LIKE FIGURE, BATMAN-LIKE FIGURE and WONDER WOMAN-LIKE FIGURE. If these were the actual Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, there would be no need for him to refer to them in that way.
But it's later in the script that he get the closest thing to definitive confirmation I feel like we're going to get until it's revealed in-story. Geoff Johns refers to The Outsider as Leader/Alfred. That's right. It's right there in the script.The leader of the Secret Society is Alfred.
I'm surprised DC would let that LEADER/ALFRED line go to print. I'm guessing it was an oversight by the team who put this script book together, as it is a HUGE reveal!