What we have here is a fun and exceptionally well-drawn series that stays pretty consistent. I don’t usually review it because it’s not very “Batman” (except for a moment in issue #3 which is one of the best Bat-moments in any book yet in the New 52), but I have read the entire series so far and find it to be one of the more fun team-up books out there along with “Suicide Squad”. The characters have a good chemistry, you can usually count on one or two funny one-liners in each installment, and there’s always a cool action scene. If you’re looking for something dark and realistic then “Red Hood & the Outlaws” probably isn’t for you. Hell, I can’t think of any team books that fit that description off the top of my head. Red Hood deals with obstacles that come from a very surreal place. It could be a woman made up of shadows, a magical cult, or a man mutated by alien technology. The next big storyline for this series takes place in outer space! It’s a book that stands out from the rest of the New 52 with fun, quirky elements and characters that are anti-heroes through-and-through.
This issue picks up where last month’s left off. The team is still in Gotham, Red Hood intercepted the distress call from the Batcave, and they are now in Chinatown to check up on the Court’s target, Mr. Freeze. There was a bit of an uproar a few months back when it was announced what artist Kenneth Rocafort’s redesign of Mr. Freeze looked like, and although I would hate for Freeze to look like this full-time, it really looks great here. Rocafort has given this book a very unique look and the Mr. Freeze he created fits into that world perfectly. As for the rest of the book’s art, it’s fantastic as always. The paneling is brilliant, the action has a great sense of motion, the faces are very expressive, and wait until you see his depiction of Batgirl!
When it comes to story, I was a bit surprised. After being disappointed by the lack of high-octane action in “Batman & Robin” I was really expecting Red Hood to more than make up for it. That’s not to say that there isn’t any action here. Far from it! You’ll see quite the exchange of fire and ice between Mr. Freeze and Starfire. Red Hood and the Talon will battle it out through a frozen Chinatown, a beautiful set piece. But Red Hood comes off as quite a bit more level headed here and the Talon is yet another chatty-Kathy with a sad sob story to tell. Instead of getting a kick-ass smackdown like in “Batwing” #9, this book’s anti-hero instead talks it out and kills ’em with kindness. Definitely not what I was expecting, but there was plenty of action going on elsewhere that I wasn’t disappointed.
Overall it’s a nice one-and-done story that’s new reader friendly so don’t be afraid to pick it up if you’ve never read a Red Hood adventure before. Is it a bit exposition heavy in parts? Yes. And there’s not as much action as I was hoping and the Talons are really turning out to be lame cross-over villains. Far too many of them seem to eventually break down and give a “Nobody loved me. I didn’t have a childhood…” speech. Cobb and Staunton are the only ones who have felt like an unstoppable force and a real threat. Still, I definitely recommend this as one of the best tie-ins to the Night of the Owls outside of “Nightwing” and “Batwing”.