Monday, November 07, 2011

Review: Red Hood and the Outlaws #2

In the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws we’re introduced to Red Hood (former Batman sidekick Jason Todd), Arsenal (not yet code named in the new DCU Roy Harper, former Green Arrow sidekick, though that’s never explicitly stated either), and Starfire (Exiled alien Princess Koriand’R). They’re not a team but Red Hood & Arsenal have worked together before, and Arsenal has worked with Starfire before. They’re all on the fringe of the superhero community, though we’re not directly told why (their willingness to kill is likely a cause).

They don’t exactly get along, but they don’t necessarily hate each other either, despite how they act. They’re like siblings or college roommates, kind of thrown together by circumstance, not always liking it, but going with it, at least for now.

The issue opens with a flashback to Jason Todd’s introduction to the All Caste, a mystic group of martial artists who exist in a place that may not be in this universe/dimension/plane of reality. He’s brought there by Talia al Ghul for training. She hopes to calm his rage and teach him the discipline he seems to lack since returning from the dead. This is a great sequence because it simultaneously adds to the Jason Todd story long time readers know while still being able to stand on its own for new readers. Plus he gets his ass handed to him by a tiny old lady.

Don’t patronize other dimensional old ladies. No matter how tiny they are, they’re always ninjas.
Turns out Talia believes in Jason’s potential, and as is typical for all DC martial artists, he needs to spend a lot of time with a secret cabal of monk-ninjas. As stereotypical as this plot devise is, it still works. Not only does the long, extensive training increase believability that a non-powered human can fight in a superhuman world, it also gives credence to Jason being the leader of the group.

Skip ahead and Jason and Roy are on a plane to find out what’s happened to the All Caste. Scott Lobdell does a good job of playing up the banter between the two. They’re clearly friends no matter what they say. His dialog isn’t quite Whedon good, but it’s a fun dynamic and definitely adds to the story. This is played up even more when they meet up with Kori and Roy tries to bring up the sexual tension that he’s apparently the only one to feel/acknowledge.

We cut to a safehouse of Jason’s where he’s ‘surprised’ by something ugly who he has some kind of history with.

Something UGLY!!
This scene is both confusing and not. Obviously it’s designed to show that Jason A) probably has enemies everywhere, B) sets the stage for future retribution (RE: Plots), C) is always prepared and therefore a D) Badass. Which it does. However it also seems to be out of nowhere and somewhat throws the issue off.

Cut to the ‘still not a team’ of Red Hood & Arsenal jumping out of a plane, being met by Starfire, and finding their way through the holographic/portal opening to the All Caste. We find out the All Caste have all been killed, something that is actually upsetting to Jason. I have to say, it’s a mark to Lobdell’s characterization of Jason that as a reader I can both tell how upsetting these deaths are to him while simultaneously realizing that this is a rare expression of emotion for the character.

The ensuing battle is great for a number of reasons. The action is brutal and swift. The characters fight in distinct ways and yet work well together as a team. It can easily be missed in other team books when each hero simply attacks with whatever their power is (aka everyone shoot at once). Lobdell & Rocafort do an excellent job of blending the action to show teamwork. And the art is wonderful.

Kenneth Rocafort is handling both pencils and inks and it shows in the best way. He has a great handle on these characters and his depiction of their facial expressions goes a long ways to showcase their emotions and feelings throughout the book. And his inks are ultra detailed for close up shots and more subdued for distance shots. His style reminds me a lot of cinema, in that sense. I also am a big fan of how he plays around with the layouts. It’s similar to what J.H. Williams III is doing on Batwoman, while remaining unique and true to this story.

I love the group dynamic both in and out of battle. They’re fun, precise, and play off each other perfectly. This ‘team’ clearly works well together and I’m very much excited to see where they go next.

By Kephus with No comments


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