Oh what a difference an inker makes! In my reviews of the previous issues illustrated by Julius Gopez I’ve time and time again commented on how ugly some panels looked, but in issue #22 there are several pages in which Gopez leaves inking duties to Ray McCarthy and having an actual professional inker make the most out of Gopez’s pencils did wonders for this book! You’ll notice immediately which pages were inked by Gopez and which were inked by McCarthy. It’s the difference between night and day!

However, while many of the pages look much cleaner and the art is overall much improved the story is kind of boring. It’s a whole lot of talk and no action. It’s scene after scene of characters expelling long speech bubbles stuffed with exposition. What it’s all setting up does sound interesting, but just having characters go into long monologues detailing the plot doesn’t make for very entertaining storytelling.

I want to like James Tynion’s Red Hood and the Outlaws, but if I wasn’t a reviewer I honestly think I would have stopped reading this arc a couple of issues ago. As cool as it is to be seeing Jason gaining access to the League of Assassins in this issue, I just don’t find all of the lore Lobdell established with the All-Caste and Untitled all that interesting and I’d rather see Jason Todd in a non-magic/space-aliens book. I would rather see him in a team-up book with Tim Drake (Call it “The Reds” or something), then I’d be getting a grounded Red Hood and a relevant Red Robin. So far I think Tynion has done the best work with Roy AKA Arsenal, who I think could have a pretty good series on his own. Roy gets the best moment in all of issue #22 and it’s surprisingly very 90’s Liefeld-esque.

With so many other bat-titles on the horizon, I’m thinking of dropping this one from the review rotation.

Overall

The art looks much better now that there’s an inker on the team but the story itself is exposition heavy and kind of boring. It sets up a lot of interesting things to come in future issues and even goes into Ra’s Al Ghul’s past somewhat, but getting through all that exposition was a bit of a slog and I’m getting weary of all the magic elements in this series. If you enjoy more magical/fantastical elements in your comics then you’ll definitely enjoy this series more than I do, but I’m quickly losing interest and often feel like I’m giving it a pass just because I like Tynion’s Talon series so much.

SCORE: 4.5/10