A one-shot issue with emotional depth, character development, a resolved storyline, AND some good action sequences all in one?  This is certainly a good sign for Red Hood and the Outlaws going forward if this is the quality of work that will be featured in the coming issues.  Having finished off the All-Caste and the Untitled arc, James Tynion’s story in “Promises, Promises” is a simple yet entertaining one which serves as a good reprieve from the expansiveness and complicated nature of the past ten or so issues.

The issue opens up in Gotham City, with Jason’s on-again, off-again, often-in-danger girlfriend Isabel.  We haven’t seen Isabel since Death of the Family, where she was being taken to the hospital after Joker had poisoned her as a psychological attack on Jason Todd.  Her story picks up as she’s trying to move on from such a traumatic experience by reentering the dating scene, but she still seems to have not let go of Jason.  After leaving her date at the door of her apartment, she receives a holographic message from Jason asking her to come to a private Mediterranean resort.

The first half of the comic focuses on Isabel and Jason’s relationship and how they plan on going forward together given Jason’s life as leader of the Outlaws.  It’s a solid dozen pages where Jason, Roy, Kori, and Isabel just try to act as normal couples at a resort: they talk on the beach, trade playful verbal barbs with each other, and even hit up the local club scene.  It’s a good look at how even though these three (and Isabel from time to time) are still normal people after all of the chaos that pervades their lives.  Heroes, and not to mention their readers, need to get away from the constant action and the frequent world-in-the-balance stakes that fills their lives with every issue.  This welcome respite truly shines after the high octane action of the previous few chapters.

Of course the team, who are now internationally wanted criminals, are not allowed too much leisure.  A new villain has appeared and he has some new weapons at his disposal.

Spoiler
We’re introduced to Midas, who runs the resort where our heroes are staying.  Jason’s presence apparently means it’s totally rational to send scores of golden robots to kill him the minute you see that he’s in your club.
The second half of the issue has a great combat sequence, where Starfire and Isabel have a chance to shine.

RHatO 28

No Rest for the Wicked

“Promises, Promises” also introduces a new artist, Stephen Segovia, who has also worked on Green Lantern: New Guardians and The Adventures of Superman.  I preferred Segovia’s work to that of Julius Gopez from the previous arc.  His detailed penciling of the characters’ faces worked very well in a story without much kinetic action, and his work on Jason’s hologram looked fantastic.  The brief action sequences had great contrast between light and dark, and helped to make Starfire look especially ferocious.

Spoiler

  • There was a Joker-esque smile on the robot that displays Jason’s hologram…Why? You know this girl was nearly killed by Joker and is only JUST recovering.  Why would you plaster a giant smile on your threatening-looking, beam-shooting robot that broke into her house??
  • Okay, how did Roy get the gigantic alien gun into the club to throw to Isabel? There’s no way he hid it in his t-shirt, and there’s zero mention of it during the rest of the issue.
  • Can we please, please, please stop using the All-Blades? And the term “Jaybird”? I don’t even know how that nickname could have gotten started.
  • The final looks at Jason and Isabel reminded me a lot of the Christopher Nolan Bruce/Rachel relationship, where the girl can only be with the guy once his fight has ended.

Favorite Quote: “We’ve just had one hell of a weird-ass year.  What else is there to do – but dance!?” – Roy Harper

Recommended If…

  • You want a good character-driven one-shot with an entertaining story
  • You like seeing Isabel and her interaction with the team
  • Stephen Segovia is a favorite artist of yours

Overall

Ever since that amnesia arc has ended, Red Hood and the Outlaws has been on a consistent incline.  I was inclined to put an 8.5 but this one-shot was such a breath of fresh air it felt better than it probably was.

SCORE: 9/10