Issue #19 may be the beginning of a new creative team’s run but it’s not the fresh start that many new readers were hoping for.
First thing’s first, what happened to the awesome cover?
Not only did artist Mico Suayan’s interiors get thrown out but his original cover featuring a heavily scarred Jason Todd was not used either. Why’s that? Probably because Jason isn’t scarred. The end of issue #18 made it clear that Jason would make a full recovery. So my guess is that DC originally planned to have Jason get scarred, but then realized that would make Red Hood look even more like Deadpool so they scrapped that idea and needed a replacement cover.
As for the comic itself, issue #19 is HEAVILY rooted in Lobdell’s run, especially the first arc, which you can found in Red Hood and the Outlaws: Redemption. The story greatly focuses on The All-Caste, the Death of the Family crossover, and the various Arsenal flashbacks seen throughout this series and, I believe, DC Universe Presents #17. It’s so dependent on your existing knowledge of Lobdell’s run and all the characters of the All-Caste that I’m afraid it might not be very accessible to those who thought a new creative team equaled a great jumping on point.
It’s an Roy-centric tale about him and Starfire trying to find the All-Caste and Jason. Right off the bat it’s apparent that Tynion’s take on this series will be slower paced and more focused on story and character development rather than one-liners and that might prove to be exactly what you’re looking for. However, he explores Arsenal’s inner thoughts and feelings by taking us deep into his subconscious for a segment that’s all too similar to what we did just last month with Jason in issue #18 with far greater success. And the march through the Himalayas by Roy and Starfire just came off as silly to me because Starfire is concerned about Roy freezing to death and it took them a really long time to hike to their destination. Why’s that silly? Because Starfire has the super-strength to carry Roy, she’s 100% capable of emitting a constant and comfortable level of heat, and she can fly. The story even acknowledges how warm Starfire is when she gives Roy a hug and then it shows her flying with Roy in the final pages so why did they waste so much time freezing in the mountains in the first place?
From there you’ll go deeper into the world of the All-Caste, see ghosts and cameos of character’s from Lobdell’s run, and if you like comics where the heroes fight dinosaur/monster things then you might just get a kick out of some of the action scenes. These moments would’ve been far more impressive, however, if the art wasn’t so bad.
The pencils by Julius Gopez ranged from sketchy but passable to totally hideous. Faces, in particular, looked terrible. Starfire’s eyebrows are gigantic (which could just be his own interpretation of the character since she’s from a cat-like alien race I think but I still thought it looked bad) and the male characters seemed to all display the most squished facial expressions. And besides her eyebrows, Starfire’s uniform might have gotten even smaller and more ridiculous. It’s shoulder pads, wrist guards, boots, panties, and a thin purple ribbon that covers a portion of side boob and the nipple. I simply found it to be a rather ugly comic…and he drew Killer Croc like the lizard and if you read my reviews often then you know how much I hate that.
Issue #19 has an ending that’ll get people talking but I didn’t find Jason’s actions believable after the progress that was made in the previous episode. Although we have a new writer with James Tynion IV, he pays so much homage to Lobdell’s run that very little feels new and unless you’re a big fan of Arsenal, you’ll likely be bored by the lack of Jason Todd (who should have his own solo series, really). Those who enjoyed Lobdell’s run will be intrigued by this tale and will surely come back for issue #20 but I’m concerned that the uninitiated might find this comic confusing and not give it another chance. Add all that with the often unappealing artwork and it’s an issue that I’ll likely never flip through again. Not awful, but far from memorable and nowhere near what I had hoped it would be. Surprisingly, the best appearance of Jason Todd you’ll see today is actually in Justice League #19.