New 52 – Red Hood and the Outlaws #20 review

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I was so certain that when Tynion took over this book we would have something really amazing on our hands. Talon is loads of fun and, besides the Batman/Superman team-up in the last two issues of Batman, I have enjoy enjoyed his backup story contributions immensely. But his first arc in Jason Todd’s comic seems to exist for little reason other than to retread the same stuff Lobdell did, but retcon some things here and there. We’re also reusing the same narrative device of playing Jason’s old memories that was seen in the fantastic issue #18.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #20 was a snooze for me. A tedious, wordy, and rather poorly drawn snooze. The only thing about it that I think readers can really get excited about is the occasional cameo by characters such as Bronze Tiger, who you really haven’t seen in the New 52 yet. Everything else is just a long conversation between the floating magic kid, Roy, and Kori as they debate whether or not Jason should have his mind wiped. SHOW SPOILER ▼

As you’ll recall from issue #19, Jason wanted all of the darkness removed from his memory because it had finally become too much for him. This didn’t make much sense at the time because there was an editor’s note that said we had to wait for this month’s issue of Batman & Red Hood for the full story. So I waited, Batman & Red Hood came out, and I was still disappointed with the excuse for Jason wanting a clean slate . I mean, one of the great things about the must-read Red Hood #18 is that we went through all of the darkness of Jason’s past and not only did he overcome it but it led to him being the first member of the bat-family to forgive Bruce after the events of Death of the Family (which every other sidekick is being a baby about, it really wasn’t that earth-shattering of a secret to tear the family apart if you ask me. Oh, and that issue of Batman and Robin? It also made Jason and Bruce angry at each other again.). The first two issues of Tynion’s run throws that and several other things from Lobdell’s run out the window.

These looks into the past would’ve meant more had it not already been handled so much better in issue #18, which not only had better artwork but told a story that was more about progressing the character forward rather than regressing him. And honestly, I’m ready for an adventure. Red Hood & the Outlaws used to be the one Bat-title I could always turn to for some fun, but we haven’t had an adventure in this comic since around issue #13, before the Death of the Family crossover started. If you want to read a Bat-comic that isn’t going to leave you feeling down in the dumps these days then you have to turn to Nightwing (which admittedly used to be the most depressing of the titles prior to his move to Chicago) or Tynion’s other series, Talon.

I sincerely hope that this mind-wiped Jason doesn’t continue for too much longer. If you strip him of his darkness then he’s basically Dick Grayson with shorter hair and after reading the recent portrayal of Luke Fox in Batwing 2.0 I can say that we already have 2 Dick Graysons in the New 52.

As for the artwork, it’s not much improved since the last issue. Faces still look off, many of the illustrations appear very rough and sketchy, Kori still has those terrible eyebrows, and in one flashback Kori sees Jason as Robin and remarks “He’s so small.” but Julius Gopez drew young Jason as a full grown adult with forearms that would make Popeye and Mark McGwire blush. At least the cover by Mico Suayan (who isn’t credited) is fantastic.

This seems like an arc that can be skipped to me. The artwork is weak and nothing terribly exciting is happening. We’re basically just watching a few elements of Lobdell’s run get retconned right now and I find it all rather boring. Since I like Tynion’s other work I’m hoping that this is all just growing pains. Next month’s issue promises more adventure  so in a perfect world this series will get  fun again and Jason will get his memories back before he, Tim, and Dick are completely indistinguishable.

SCORE: 4.5/10

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