I’m done. I’m out. If I want to read a fringe bat-title with a mysticism angle then I’ll pick up the better-drawn Batwoman title. Writer James Tynion IV has taken Red Hood and the Outlaws too far in a direction that I don’t find interesting in the slightest. At least when Lobdell sent the trio into space Jason Todd still acted like Jason Todd, but there’s nothing tying Tynion’s run close enough to the Batman mythology to qualify it as something that should be discussed on a monthly basis around here. The site’s called Batman News and there’s nothing in this comic that I can identify as Batman-related anymore. The only thing that was grounding it to Gotham in any way before was Jason Todd and now that he’s had his memories wiped and (in this issue) been given the ability to materialize “All-Swords” out of thin air the character is utterly unrecognizable to me. We’re even dealing with the League of Assassins who should make this feel closer to Batman territory but with all of the other magic mumbo-jumbo being piled on top it simply doesn’t feel like the same organization.
I’m sure this is quit fun if you’re a big fan of Arsenal, but Jason Todd just isn’t Jason Todd any longer. He’s lost his personality. And Starfire never has anything to do! Plus she’s so powerful that it seems like most of the obstacles they face could easily be handled by her alone. I can’t help but think that Arsenal and Red Hood work better on a street level and Starfire should be moved to a book like JLA or Teen Titans and then her role in Outlaws could be filled by a non-powered human heroine with an attitude like Huntress, Starling, or Ravager (Deathstroke’s daughter… she might have powers though but I don’t think they’re too fantastical, are they?).
And I also imagine that if you like fantasy elements in your superhero stories that this could possibly be quite enjoyable, but I don’t like it getting mixed in with my Batman stuff, frankly, and Tynion has made the League of Assassins into something ridiculous to me. They no longer feel like a threatening clandestine organization made up of the most fearsome assassins but instead are a colorful team made up a ghost robot who changes his density, a teleporter, a blood mage, a tiger-man, and tens of thousands of Man-Bats (I thought Talia was running out of the serum and then Batman cured all of her currently active Man-Bat assassins at the start of Batman, Inc. #13?) who are constantly at odds with other magical cults. It’s too much! Wasn’t having a leader who uses a pool that grants immortality and temporary insanity enough to make this terrorist group interesting? Wasn’t that element fantastical enough?
So the whole issue is Arsenal blasting away at the League with a bazillion weapons and then we get some arguing about the All-Caste and whoever the other groups are that are fighting, who knows? And then a cliffhanger. It… it just feels like this story has been dragging on forever. And I don’t like the art either, but I’ve complained about that enough in previous issues, however this time we actually see Red Hood’s helmet more and, well, it’s just plain awful. That helmet shouldn’t have a mouth and nose built into it. It just shouldn’t.
I know this review sounds grumpy but I’m just incredibly disappointed in how the series has been handled ever since Tynion took over. After that terrific back-up story he wrote for Batman #0 that featured all of Bruce’s sidekicks I was begging for this guy to write more stories featuring the likes of Tim or Jason. And then I read his ongoing Talon series and thought that was absolutely fantastic with plenty of action, mystery, and great character development. But now I feel like Obi-Wan at the end of Revenge of the Sith shouting “You were the chosen one! It was said that you would fix the problems from Lobdell’s run, not exacerbate them!”
Maybe whenever Jason gets his old personality back and we stop seeing so much magic I’ll start reviewing this book on a monthly basis again but for now I think I’ll move it to the graphic novel only category with the other fringe-titles.
Nothing about this feels like a bat-title to me anymore. Jason no longer acts like Jason, there are too many mystical elements for me to fathom, and I think it has some of the ugliest art of any book I review. I’m dropping this title and I’ll trade-wait from this point on.