Transition issues are an interesting and delicate thing that writers face in comics. In the modern structure of comics, often a writer finds themselves still needing to set up certain pieces before the climatic events of the arc. It can be a “do or die” situation for many writers, and that’s where Batman and the Outsiders #4 finds itself.
Bryan Hill, Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini, and Clayton Cowles move the pieces into place before the team’s confrontation with Ra’s al Ghul.
Ra’s puts Sofia to the test, trying to show the young woman that she’s worthy to become his heir. Meanwhile, Black Lightning needs to help his team get their heads in the game before they depart for Khadym. If they can’t, it may cost them their lives… or worse.
Transition issues can be a couple different things. At their worst, they’re simply decompression, but at their best they can provide character growth, give more insight in the main story and set up subplots for the future. That’s exactly what Hill does, creating an issue that feels like set-up on the first read, but- looking deeper- has layers that are far beyond similar stories by other writers. It avoids the trap of decompression and instead gives us a great issue.
Soy and Gandini continue to put in great work. Soy has a great eye for action, but also uses his technique to enhance it. Throughout the issue he uses page-wide panels to draw us into what’s happening and create a cinematic feel- whether it’s Sofia dueling with the League of Assassins, or Jefferson Piece laying down the law with Bruce Wayne. Gandini uses a very rich and earthy palette, which helps the bright colors of the superheroes- Black Lightning and the Signal in particular- pop on the page.
This series continues to be unlike anything in DC’s line-up, a character centered team book that would be more at home at the competition, but it’s one of my favorite reads month after month. I’d love to see DC put out more books like this.
Batman and the Outsiders #4 is available now from DC Comics.