Red Hood/ Arsenal #5 “Gotham Born”
Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Denis Medri
Colors by Blond
I’m doing a little catch-up on some reviews that were missed, and this just happens to be one of those lucky titles… Let’s go ahead and just get this out there. I’ve been very open about how I feel about this title. I think its crap. I thought it was crap back when it was called Red Hood & the Outlaws, and eventually dropped it. Then the book dropped Starfire, and “rebooted” itself to what we have today: Red Hood/ Arsenal. I, naively, hoped that the relaunch would give these characters a boost in quality, but that didn’t happen… at all… Do you want to know why? Scott Lobdell. What Michael Bay does to films based on our favorite childhood television shows, Scott Lobdell does to characters in the DC Universe… Lobdell/ Bay poop on them. And yes, that’s the nice way of saying it.
My biggest issue with this book is the tone of it. Jason and Roy are portrayed as total “bros” and I find it incredibly annoying. While I think both of these characters contain some of these characteristics, I don’t think they would act like moronic, frat boys. The only difference between these two and Zac Efron’s character in Neighbors, is that Jason and Roy fight crime… at least in this title. It’s such a waste for two characters who could contain a grittier story that grounds itself in redemption. They each have really rich histories, and both are getting underutilized.
This issue picks up where the last issue left off. Jason and Roy are in Gotham tracking the villain, Underbelly. Yes… that is his name. Or “it’s” name would probably be the more appropriate pronoun as we learn in this issue that the creature is essentially genderless, but regardless, it’s a terrible villain! The concept itself is ok… The creature lives and grows off of the evil in people around it, allowing it to exist anywhere and everywhere in the world… but the execution is extremely poor, and Underbelly looks like a Ghostbuster reject. In fact, this design concept was originally submitted for the new Ghostbuster movie, and it was rejected! (No, it wasn’t… but it would be funny if it was.) And the character only gets worse as they go into the origin… I was literally rolling my eyes at the desperation that was put into trying to make Underbelly relevant or critical.
And if this weren’t bad enough, since the duo are in Gotham, you know what that means… DC’s mandated rule of incorporating Gordo-Bats is in full effect… You all know I hate Gordon romping around as Batman, and Lobdell delivers what I consider to be the worst interpretation of this character. I just wanted the issue to end because it was so cringe-worthy. Gordon’s flip-flopping on Jason and Roy. Underbelly’s lack of intrigue. Roy and “Jay Bird’s” shenanigans… Dear God, it was awful. Thankfully, a resolve is suddenly (and conveniently) discovered in how to beat Underbelly, to wrap up this tragic attempt at writing a comic. But before you get excited, you still have a quarter of the book remaining where Lobdell attempts (and fails) to create a “moment” for Jason, before ending this issue the worst way possible.
Warning! There are spoilers below.
The Good: *cough*
The Bad: Aside from the entirety of the issue, the things that REALLY bugged me were:
Underbelly’s origin. Seriously… He was created, mistakenly and unknowingly, by the Joker, thanks to a psychic syphon that was in one of the Endgame b-stories at the end of one of the issues… I’m not making this up… No, really… This really was his origin…
Roy’s solve for beating Underbelly. First off, it still doesn’t make complete sense to me, mainly because there isn’t enough information in regards to the physiology of Underbelly for Roy to come to the conclusion that he came to. He literally jumped on a whim of a hunch, of a hunch… And then, made a tool in a matter of seconds. SECONDS!!! No! Somebody fire Scott Lobdell!
Jason & Bruce’s “moment.” This was awkward and felt WAY out of character to me. Jason literally hugs Bruce randomly, after discovering Bruce remembers nothing about his life, and Bruce says, “I understand.” I know what Lobdell was attempting to do, and had it been done well, it would’ve been a nice moment. Instead it was just awkward and odd.
The ending. Listen, I could describe it, or I could just show it to you.
The Art: I’m not impressed with Denis Medri’s art… at all. The best looking thing in this book was some panels of Underbelly, and I just ranted about how terrible the design of Underbelly is… That should tell you something. Jason and Roy look weird and cartoony. There’s just not much that’s redeeming here, and with a Lobdell script, you’d hope that you would at least get good art. Whatever decent quality Medri has, they’re overshadowed by his opportunities.
To see some samples of the internal art, check out the spoiler tag below.
- If you’ve been a fan of Red Hood for the past year or so, then sure…
- You like Scott Lobdell.
- You need a little more “bro-ness” in your life. (Cool story, bro!)
Overall: Just cancel this book… and stop giving Lobdell work. He’s driven everything he’s touched into the ground since the launch of the New 52.