Writer: Bryan Hill / Artist: Dexter Soy / DC Comics
There is so much going on it Batman’s corner of the DC universe that it’s honestly staggering that we have three titles that are being influenced by the Year of the Villain and all of them seem to be taking place at roughly the same time, if Batman’s laments are to be interpreted as such. However, in the midst of all the Batman stories we are being given, I still find myself thankful for Hill’s work on Batman and the Outsiders. He’s made it his mission to make sure that the Outsiders are the ones driving the action and that the entire reason for the team isn’t just that Batman needs a black ops team. Batman also recognizes that he is not always the solution. It’s a small solace, but it’s a solace just the same.
The Lesser Gods continues with Sofia continuing her start of darkness under the tutelage of Ra’s al Ghul. The story then shifts to the Outsiders trying to regroup after realizing that their team dynamics still have a long way to develop. Hill deftly navigates different pairs of the Outsiders in order to expand on their characterization and motivation with varying degrees of successful. When it’s Cass and Duke, it’s chock full of touching sentiments and one-liners. When it’s Black Lightning and Duke, we get to poke and prod at inter-generational friendships. And when it’s Batman and Black Lightning… well that’s an area that I feel like we’re running out of novel territory, but it’s still well written. The main point stands, that Hill has been utilizing the cast effectively and makes sure that everyone feels integral to the larger plot. The pacing stutters a little here and there, but it creates a cohesive narrative.
There’s not as much high octane action in this particular issue, but Soy’s artwork is still very engaging even if most of the characters are just having conversations. Soy does incredible work with the facial expressions and body language of the cast that compliments the tone perfectly and remains dynamic with its perspective.
Batman and the Outsiders #4 feels like a meditative calm before a literal storm and the assault on Khadym will be a welcome shift of gears. There’s a lot to like in this series, but this issue falls a little bit short of the ambition of the previous issue. Still, there’s definitely an upwards trend and I have a feeling the final confrontation will be quite the spectacle.
8.8 “Soldiers/Students” out of 10