Batman and the Outsiders #4, published by DC Comics, is written by Bryan Edward Hill, illustrated by Dexter Soy, colored by Veronica Gandini, and lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles. While the Outsiders deal with personal crises and a shift in the team dynamics following the last issue, Ra’s al Ghul transforms Sofia Ramos into his newest disciple.
It’s the character dynamics that have kept me invested in this book, and Hill does not disappoint on that front. We see Duke Thomas dealing with the fallout from his battle with Karma, and Cassandra offering to help him. Black Lightning, on the other hand, has a full plate dealing with Markovian arms dealer Kaliber joining the team, clarifying his relationship with Batman, and offering to help Katana save her husband’s soul.
This beautifully intertwines with Sofia sinking deeper and deeper into Ra’s thrall; our heroes help each other, and she has no one but the Demon to turn to, which is why Batman is so desperate to save her. Hill makes these characters feel human: they have doubts, they have fears, and most importantly, they have each other.
If Hill’s script is half of what makes the issue work, Soy’s artwork is definitely the other half. I remain impressed by how fluid it is. One sequence, in particular, finds Katana falling through fog as she struggles to save her husband Maseo only to find that he is being swarmed by demons tearing at his flesh. The scene, while part of a dream sequence, is still haunting.
Similarly, a scene where Batman plots a rescue mission with the Outsiders is juxtaposed to Ra’s instructing Sofia to kill a room full of warriors. This lends weight to how different these men are, both in terms of how they view others and how they view the world.
Rounding out the creative team is Gandini on colors, and she makes Soy’s artwork pop off the page. Scenes set in the daylight are warm and inviting while scenes at night are foreboding and laced with a hint of menace. Katana’s dream sequence has a hazy look, almost like a photograph out of focus. The best page, however, has Ra’s shrouded in shadow standing next to Sofia with smoke curling around the bodies of her victims. In one image, you see how willing she is to follow his philosophy, and how much danger the Outsiders can expect.
Batman and the Outsiders #4 is a stellar piece of character work from a stellar creative team. Next issue concludes the “Lesser Gods” story arc, and I hope that Hill, Soy, and Gandini close it out in style.
Batman and the Outsiders #4 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Batman and the Outsiders #4
Batman and the Outsiders #4 is a stellar piece of character work from a stellar creative team.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.