I was very excited to see Hugo Strange on the cover. I love that villain. I was particularly thrilled with how he was utilized in the Arkham City video game until the ending
First of all: you absolutely, positively need to read the Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual before jumping into this. I did a review of it and found that the Annual was okay. Definitely the best issue Tynion has done on the series so far, but not worth the $5 cover price. You will, however, need to know what happened there to fully grasp what’s happening here.
Now, as for issue #21, we’re still focusing mainly on Roy. He’s upset because Kori actually remembers more than she let on and Jason remembers nothing at all. We start off with Roy visiting Hugo Strange, who has apparently been his psychiatrist for years. It would appear that we’re definitely going to act as though Tony Daniel’s Detective Comics take on Strange never happened. In that series we saw that Strange had a son who he was using toward a bigger, more villainous goal (if you’ve read Prey, then you can see how unbelievable the idea of Hugo having kids is) and Catwoman was well aware of Hugo’s villain status as well. Here it feels as though Hugo Strange is a renowned doctor (he had a book signing in St. Louis only a few issues ago) who has never been accused of a crime. Issue #21 was a wasted opportunity for this character. The idea of seeing the outlaws take on a villainous Strange sounds far more captivating than the barrage of mysticism they now face.
We cut between Roy confessing his inner thoughts and feelings to Strange, Kori eavesdropping, and Jason riding a stolen motorcycle down a road somewhere in the pacific northwest (New 52 Jason and Bruce are apparently very good at holding onto planes). All is well until suddenly a whole bucket of characters are dumped into the story and I felt pretty overwhelmed, honestly. While the cover shows us a menacing Hugo Strange, he’s nothing more than a doctor who scurries off early on in the book. Instead we are treated to the likes of Lady Shiva (yes, she still has that awful ponytail/predator design), Bronze Tiger, Cheshire, Essence, the hooded Untitled tribe, the League of Assassins, and a bunch of other people. Everyone crowds together and pushes their way through the door to introduce themselves and set up the plot for our newest story arc.
It’s actually a pretty interesting premise (at least on Jason’s side of things), but having a dozen characters jump out of nowhere to deliver exposition is an incredibly clumsy way to kick things off.
As for the artwork, well I’ll just show you this image and you can be the judge.
It was about at the point when Jason Todd teleported with a giant tiger-man (the new design of Bronze Tiger) that I realized this is definitely not the kind of comic I gravitate to. I never cared for the fantastical All-Caste stuff from Lobdell’s run and that’s all that Tynion seems to be dwelling on. If you enjoy these more outlandish storylines and can look past the art then you should definitely scout around for other reviews as I might not be the most help on this. It’s simply not my cup of tea. However, the final page definitely piqued my interest.