Lobo has taken control of Starfire’s ship, and it’s up to Red Hood and the Outlaws to stop him from unleashing an extinction-event alien nanotech probe nightmare on planet Earth in “The Big Picture: The Conclusion.”  Quick side note, this short arc made me remember that Justice League Unlimited episode, “Dark Heart,” where the League has to battle the extinction-event alien nanotech probe nightmare on Earth.  Unfortunately for the Outlaws, there is no Atom here to shrink down and apply a choke hold to a mechanical alien heart.

Issue 31 opens up with Lobo applying the heel of his boot to the neck of Arsenal, with Jason and Starfire on their way to the rescue with the ship they stole from the Justice League Dark.  After applying some science-fiction teleportation or warp-drive wizardry, Jason and Kori are able to pop onto the Tamaranian ship and take Lobo and his men by surprise.  There’s a great deal of one-hit K.O.s in this episode, with Starfire in particular getting taken down in a rather embarrassing fashion. 

Spoiler
  So the head pirate is also Tamaranian and all it took to completely immobilize Kori was one phrase in her native language.  “Verbal psionic trigger phrases” seems like total and utter nonsense.

Let’s talk about Kori. Starfire has always been a difficult character to mold in Red Hood and the Outlaws.  Stylistically, she has almost nothing in common with Jason and Roy except for having a difficult childhood – but then again that’s almost every hero.  I’m well aware that I’m not stating anything that hasn’t crossed the mind of any active reader of Red Hood’s story, but Starfire is either impossibly overpowered or pathetically weakened in every fight.  She’s treated like other ridiculously-powered heroes like Superman where you have to create nonsensical rules to make the playing field fair.  She’s teaming up with two normal humans, whose only true powers are their physical abilities and ingenuity (I’m ignoring the All-Blades and that exorcist punch that Jason does).  Give her an awesome sci-fi title or if she has to be on a team, make it Teen Titans.

But enough of that, this issue does have some very cool moments.  The artwork by Rafa Sandoval is still impressive and a joy to look at.  The design team finally removed Jason’s eye holes in his hood, and the white covering looks far better and more practical.  Lobo is always a fun character to add to a story, and his swaggering cockiness and arrogance serves the story well.  I wish this wasn’t the end of the arc, as I would have liked to have seen more combat between Jason and Lobo.

With all the little cool moments, there were a few big moments that I did not like whatsoever.  The entire climax of the issue revolves around Jason, Roy, and Kori attempting to stop Lobo and his crew from launching the nanotech probe at the Earth.  Now if Superman had shown up out of nowhere, without speaking a single word, and punched the nanotech robots so hard that they reversed their programming and exploded into tiny little stars, then left without explanation or anything, that would have been a better explained and understandable conclusion than what was provided.  The actual pay-off isn’t even understood by Jason when Roy explains it to him, and it was just a massive disappoint.  Though the imagery was pretty amusing and provided with some laughs which had recently been missing from Red Hood and the Outlaws, the explanation was just so bad.  I’ll place my full rant in the spoilers section.

Spoiler

  • Ok, so while Jason and Kori are getting destroyed by Lobo and his regenerating crew (the regeneration powers are never explained either), Roy sneaks off and does something to a little robot that looks a lot like the one he used in Issue 29.  The aliens find and capture Roy, and Lobo fires the nanotech probe.  Somehow, Roy was able to reconfigure the probes, have them turn around, capture the stolen ship from Frankenstein, Lobo, and his men, “manipulate the atoms to rebuild and reseal the walls on both sides” (which is absolutely absurd), and then teleport the aliens into the stolen ship they weren’t even on in the first place, though it was never mentioned that the nanobots could teleport.  The worst sin is that I must have read the last five pages of Issue 31 a dozen times and I still have no complete idea what happened.  Maybe it’s me.  But if I have to read the same pages over and over again, it’s definitely a turn-off.
  • Lobo was able to rewire Roy’s nanobot in a span of two panels, so apparently every other person in the New 52 has a doctorate in advanced nanotechnology.
  • Lobo is being followed by another Lobo, but to keep tabs on them you have to read Justice League United? Can someone please explain that to me?

Favorite Quote: “Grow up, kid. This isn’t about love or hate or planetary pride.  It’s about money.” – Lobo

Recommended If…

  • Lobo is one of your favorite characters
  • You read the last two issues

Overall: 

After the last three issues, Red Hood and the Outlaws seemed to be on the rise.  This last issue was definitely the weakest since the end of the Amnesia Arc, but there are some cool Lobo moments, as well as some good teamwork from Jason, Roy, and Kori.

SCORE: 5.5/10