This current incarnation of Red Hood has been, shall we say, emotionally lacking. Outside of two exceptional issues in the recent Red Hood and the Outlaws run – found in issues three and eighteen – Jason Todd has been demoted to a poor man’s Deathstroke. The last few issues have been no different, with weak artwork and an even weaker, disjointed story that has served only as an example of what not to do with a plot. That leads me to my shocking revelation…
Did I almost enjoy this? I almost did! What a strange feeling. It was almost as if Scott Lobdell wanted to try something that would have involved a little character development and then realized that what he was doing resembled something close to a good comic and ran for the escape hatch as fast as he could. Having Jason face his past in the underworld of Gotham is always a good choice for any Jason Todd/Red Hood book, as it not only adds dimensions to his character but to the city itself. So often the everyday lives of the citizens of Gotham go unexamined as they try to eke a living while being surrounded by some of the most insane villains (and heroes) in all the world. Jason’s rise from teenage street criminal to crime-fighter to murdering vigilante is a unique tale in itself, and one of the most important aspects of that story – his youth – still has room to be explored. Lobdell threatens to tread into these waters, as Jason has a very forced encounter with a childhood friend, but all we’re left with is a “what could have been” moment. The same goes for Roy; for the first time since the beginning of Red Hood and the Outlaws, Roy’s alcoholism is brought back into focus. For anyone who has suffered with addiction, the recovery process is almost never complete. This is the case with Roy, who sits in on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting from the sewers with his former sponsor, Killer Croc. It’s something that has the potential to be a moving scene, but Lobdell’s burning desire to fill the pages of this book with as many terrible puns and shots of Ro-Bats as possible leaves the reader wanting in the worst possible way.
The fight with Ro-Bats ended up being a rather small part of the whole book, and it was laced with so many terrible puns and jokes and references that your grandmother would shake her head at. It was bad. Also, if the GCPD is running Ro-Bat’s suit, then why do they have Jason and Roy labeled as “outlaws” in their official database? I get that it was a reference to the previous series, but it was so obvious and out of place that it was annoying. Lo and behold, the most obvious thing happens and bad guys show up, forcing Jason, Roy, and Ro-Bats to work together to fight a common enemy. Has this happened in literally every book Ro-Bat is in? Someone please tell me, because the ones I’ve read have all done that exact same thing. Batman-Ally-#1 is doing something, Ro-Bats shows up and tries to arrest them, a new challenger appears, Batman-Ally-#1 and Ro-Bats team up to fight them. It’s predictability is painful in this book.
There’s also this weird section where Jason tracks down Underbelly by going to some abandoned building that once held a post-Arkham Asylum breakout party for escaped villains. A lone security guard/janitor shows up and gets promptly obliterated by a hail of bullets from the villains gathered there. I know that the recent “white walls” Joker from Endgame didn’t exactly go over well, and this version of Joker is even less appealing. I’m not even going to go into too much detail, because I’ll just be repeating myself from last time, but the art of Denis Medri just does not work well with this book at all. I don’t get it.
And as if Lobdell couldn’t do any more to try and remind people that he used to write Red Hood and the Outlaws (I can imagine him like Tom Hanks in Castaway, dancing around a bonfire screaming to the sky “I WROTE THIS! ACKNOWLEDGE ME!” until the camera pans out and the fire is shaped like the hopes and dreams of every aspiring writer who thinks they could do better on this book.), he brings back a villain that I had completely forgotten about. Suzie Su, who is from like the first arc of RHatO, resurrects (?) this guy named Palette, who was that bad guy from the first issue of RH&A. Ugh, between these two and Underbelly, there could not be a more amorphous, uninteresting, bland, uninspired, and boring group of villains to ever grace a comic book.
- RO-BAT AND JASON AND ROY MUST FIGHT AGAINST THE BAD GUY!
- Didn’t see that coming…
- Your humor outdates the invention of the car or is the functional equivalent of a bad Adam Sandler movie.
- You want something resembling emotional pathos from Jason and Roy.
Not Recommended If…
- You want something that reads well or looks good.
Overall: I’m really trying to enjoy this, but then again it seems like I end up saying that in every one of these Red Hood/Arsenal reviews. There’s too much here that’s lacking, and I don’t see any possibility of improvement with this current creative team.