Following last month’s one-shot, Red Hood and the Outlaws jumps into its next arc with “The Big Picture, Part One.”  Along with introducing a new story, this issue features a new cast of creators featuring Will Pfeifer as writer and Rafa Sandoval, Paul Neary, and Jordi Tarragona as artists.  I was slightly upset that this made no mention at all to the previous; granted it was written as a stand-alone story, but it had no conclusion.  The ending we were treated to was Jason, Roy, and Kori busting through a glass roof, guns a-blaze, and then cut to black.  All that, on top of introducing a new villain to the series, I thought warranted a “Hey Jason, remember last month when we attacked Midas’ base and had that epic fight with all those robots?” “Shut up, Roy.”  Just a tiny bit of closure would have been nice.

“The Big Picture” opens up on the deck of an alien spaceship, hiding out in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter.  We learn that the three aliens onboard are planning on stealing something from Earth, and since we are in a Red Hood comic, odds are our heroes will be dragged into this heist.  Meanwhile, Jason, Roy, and Kori are on an island – which seems to be a recurring theme in the Red Hood line – going about a seemingly routine day.  There’s a great Jason page showing him training with swords that thankfully aren’t the All-Blades; this new team has immediately satisfied one of my qualms with previous Red Hood issues.

The three aliens teleport onto Starfire’s ship with only Roy aboard (Starfire is out playing with dolphins and commenting on Earth’s aesthetic pleasantness).  It is Starfire’s ship that the aliens were planning on stealing, and it is painful how easily they are able to capture the spacecraft and maroon Kori and Jason.  While Roy is in space, Jason and Kori have three pages of really solid team combat. Jason in particular get some good fighting in, and it’s good to see Jason’s delve into his criminal youth with his first idea being to flat-out steal a ship from a certain group. (see Spoilers) Oh, by the way, the cover is an absolute sham.  I mean, “Red Hood on a Rampage”?  I was expecting dozens of aliens pirates fighting Jason, who’s going at it like a maniac.  But no.  Not at all.  It’s been said a million times – but here’s once more – covers lie.

As the issue wraps up, we learn about how serious the threat these aliens pose to the rest of the galaxy. Roy intervenes, but even when he tries to defend the ship, he’s more of a watcher than an active participant. 

Spoiler
He manages to blow up an alien’s head with a bomb on a nuclear-powered robot. (which sounds like a terrible thing to do INSIDE A SPACESHIP.  THAT’S IN SPACE.)

Will Pfeifer’s team is off to a good start with this arc, setting up what could potentially be a very interesting story if done well.  I also love how well-defined Jason is drawn in this issue, down to the spatters of blood during the sword combat scenes.

Spoiler

  • Jason mentions the “psychic trapdoor I set up in you two through the League of Assassins.”  Where did that come from?  I have zero recollection of this and it’s never used.
  • Jason’s hood changes from panel to panel.  Sometimes there are eyes in the eye sockets, sometimes it’s just white like Batman’s cowl.  Nothing happens to damage the hood, it just changes randomly.
  • Why do they HAVE to use Kori’s ship?  If Kori had the kind of planet-destroying weapon on it, then wouldn’t Roy and Jason know?  And if not, then wouldn’t ANY Tamaranian ship work?  And if the aliens knew how to encode any Tamaranian ship, why steal Kori’s?  Their choosing of hers was just too random and there was no clear explanation given.
  • The lead alien says that the nanotech probe is able to remove all life on the planet, but that planet was still completely covered in vegetation.
  • It seems Jason and Kori are going to steal a ship from S.H.A.D.E.’s Frankenstein and Father Time.
  • No All-Blades or “Jaybird’ made my day.

Favorite Quote: “What I’ve got in mind is a whole lot cheaper…” – Jason Todd

Recommended If…

  • You’re looking for a good jump-on point for this title, especially if you bailed last arc.
  • You enjoy seeing the introduction of new characters.
  • Nanotechnology is your thing.

Overall:

Our heroes face a new set of villains, but they’re either too far away to be effective or are just bystanders.  This new arc is a good place to jump on for new readers and readers who gave up during the previous arc.

SCORE: 7/10