DC Comics. (Teen Titans: Bk. 4). Mar. 2023. 208p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781779512246.
Gr 7-10–Having helped Gar and Raven escape from the H.I.V.E. testing facility in the previous volume, Damian remains with them and Raven’s foster sister Max as each works to develop control of their respective superhuman abilities. Damian tries to balance his desire to help—and his attraction to Max—with his competitive, standoffish nature and his lack of social skills. But these unfortunate characteristics bubble to the surface even more when his adopted brother Dick tracks them down to offer assistance. As the fourth part of Garcia and Picolo’s soap-operatic alternative origin of the teen superhero team, the book continues emphasizing relatable characters while also establishing a superheroic world that’s not over-the-top. Max and Gar are textually presented as multiracial, and Damian presents visually as such (as befitting his canonical Middle Eastern parentage), but it remains implicit. The heart of this volume is establishing Damian as egotistical but not unlikable, a challenge even the character recognizes when measured against charismatic Dick Grayson. Its secondary task is moving the characters closer to competency before the larger plot slowly ratchets up. The assembled family doesn’t feel remotely close to titanic status, and the stakes feel anemic, but the illustrated body language and the characters’ relationships grow stronger with each chapter.
VERDICT For collections where the series is already circulating, this transitional segment teases what might kick into higher gear next volume.

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