The battle for Bizarro raged last month, and Jason raced back to his cave looking for the cure. Unfortunately, Black Mask followed him, and as we pick up the story in Red Hood and the Outlaws #6, everyone’s favorite skeletal low-life gloats over our (apparently) defeated hero. But Jason isn’t one to stop banging his head against the wall, and he’s not about to lie down and let Sionis unleash a mind-controlled menace on Gotham. Expect spoilers ahead.
Lots of fun, warts and all
Early on, we encounter what I would consider Lobdell’s weakest scenario: the hero triumphant. As Jason wiggles out from under Mask’s presumptively-claimed victory, he goes into the “let me tell you like it is” mode that the writer has used across various properties with different heroes. This dialogue is the weakest sort of stuff we see from Lobdell, and it’s probably the number one thing that has turned me off to his work in the past.
Thankfully, this is limited, and I find the rest of the book so enjoyable that I can forget it. Artemis—and her interactions with her fellow Outlaws—remains one of my absolute favorite characters to read in comics right now. All three of them hide enormous hearts beneath their more obvious traits, and seeing their care for one another makes me smile.
So much of the interplay is just plain funny, too. After the very prospect of him caused me to tremble in fear, Lobdell’s Bizarro has become a pure blast. Much of the success, I think, derives from Scott’s willingness to play loose with the particulars of the big guy’s dimwittdeness. We aren’t over-saturated with backwards-talk, and in this issue, there’s even a bit of self-awareness in Bizarro that I find very entertaining.
And how about Black Mask speaking Kryptonian and having his big existential epiphany—two hilarious by-products of linking his mind with the seemingly-mindless clone? Lobdell’s biggest win today is that instead of honing this finale’s plot into some fine point that tries to say something impactful about Jason and his team, he brushes past such comments in the beginning and then has a lot of fun for fifteen pages.
I’m sure some of our readers will have problems with Batman’s appearance, but I rather enjoy it. The Dark Knight laughing unsettled me at first, but then, it has the same effect on Jason, and their interaction is a sweet one overall (even if the reference to “outlaws” feels a bit forced). Coming full-circle from the start of the series, both here and in the delightfully-creepy Ma Gunn epilogue, feels perfectly natural, and it makes this first arc a really strong, complete package.
Still a great-looking book
What else can I say about these artists that I haven’t already? Soy and Gandini are producing some of the most beautiful, distinct artwork in DC’s line. Their attention to detail—even out the window behind Momma below—astonishes and delights me, and it’s a level of quality that is missing from most of the twice-monthly books.
The letterer is always the most under-appreciated member of the creative team. Even though I’ve interviewed him, and even though he always does a good job, I seldom mention Taylor Esposito in my reviews. But one of the things I really appreciate in today’s issue is how well he juggles a large increase in text. Reading order can be a tricky thing to establish properly, especially with tons of dialogue and less orderly paneling, but Taylor handles it all with grace, creating an effortless reading experience while still remaining transparent to the audience. The fact that you can forget about the lettering and enjoy the book is the greatest testament to how well he’s doing his job.
- You’ve enjoyed this series so far for its charm, heart, and humor.
- You can’t get enough of Soy and Gandini’s excellent attention to detail.
- You don’t want to make Momma angry.
Red Hood and the Outlaws is by far my biggest Rebirth surprise. I expected to despise it, but at the close of this first arc, I’m on the verge of saying that I not only really like it, but love it. Likeable characters, beautiful artwork, and a healthy dose of humor have made this book a consistent delight for six months. It’s not a fluke, folks—Red Hood is just that good.