Red Hood and the Outlaws has always been a fringe title with implications that frequently have nothing to do with Bruce Wayne or any member of the Bat-family and their crusade for justice. This allows Jason Todd, Roy Harper, and Kori to be placed in situations where someone like Nightwing or Batgirl would never be, as well as let them encounter unique characters from across the DC Universe. This is on prominent display in “The Big Picture, Part Two,” where we follow a theft by our heroes in response to a villainous heist in Part One.
As we saw in the last issue Roy is currently on Kori’s stolen starship, attempting to prevent the three alien hijackers from unleashing a nanotech weapon from wiping out all life on Earth. Meanwhile, Jason and Kori are on the hunt for a ship to catch up with Roy, and turn their sights on S.H.A.D.E.’s Frankenstein and Father Time. Before they can reach S.H.A.D.E. headquarters the pair make a stop at the now-desolate Blackhawks’ base, which has been in disrepair since Blackhawks was canceled over two years ago. I won’t lie, I didn’t read a sentence of Blackhawks, so I have absolutely no idea where this place is, what its significance is, or the story behind who they meet there.
Unlike in the last issue, Roy gets to be in the center of the action rather than just a passive spectator. His improvisation and technological abilities are on full display here, as he begins using guerilla tactics within Kori’s ship to battle the invaders. There’s some pretty ingenious fighting and one particularly graphic panel that was far smaller than it should have been.
Roy’s own exploits are overshadowed by the far more drawn-out and developed conflict between Jason, Kori, and S.H.A.D.E. There’s a cool scene which harkens back to the beginning of the previous issue; instead Jason is training against alien holograms, Frankenstein is training against a group of stereotypical torch-and-pitchfork villager holograms. Frankenstein’s presence is so domineering that it makes up for the fact that most of S.H.A.D.E. has nothing to do with this issue. Over half the comic is dedicated to Frankenstein’s battle with Jason and Kori, and the sequence itself is a visual buffet. The crisp colors of Rafa Sandoval highlight the theme of fire that’s carried over from Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein.
While Roy’s story has been pretty straightforward, Jason and Kori’s got a bit unnecessarily complicated. Even when Jason is explaining to Kori that they stole a ship to steal a ship to go re-steal their ship, there is so much exposition required by Jason to explain what they were doing that the page is covered in speech bubbles. In an issue that was heavy with very well-paced action and great imagery, the one page of dense talking threw a slight wrench into the flow of my reading.
I had very few complaints about the article other than the previously mentioned exposition. Jason’s hood still switches from having his eyes visible when he’s piloting to being covered and pure white when he’s fighting. I don’t exactly like the idea of Jason’s hood having eye holes. Also, the excellent fight between Jason, Kori, and Frankenstein is cut short for a weak reason, and no clear explanation is given for how or why it happened. There was also the main villain’s reveal, which will be available in the spoilers below.
- Main villain is Lobo. Didn’t see that coming.
- So, at the end of Jason/Kori/Frankenstein fight, the homicidal robot Karl just shows up and drags Frankenstein off the hull of the ship where Jason and Kori are escaping. It isn’t really explained, but it wrecked an awesome fight.
- Even after getting electrocuted and crisped to the point that they looked like Oreos in a deep fryer, the alien pirates still regenerate in about five minutes.
- I’m running out of synonyms for “pirate.” And still no All-Blades or “Jaybird”
- You’re a fan of S.H.A.D.E., or Frankenstein specifically
- You like good action sequences from cool heroes (so, everyone)
There’s no real character development, but the introduction of a new villain along with some fun fights makes this an enjoyable read and a worthwhile issue to pick up if you read Issue 29. Would’ve been higher if the first couple pages weren’t so unnecessary. Take those pages out and give me more Frankenstein/Jason sword fight.