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We ended things last month with a rather terrifying look on Bizarro’s face (apparently, he did not appreciate the “monster” label attributed to him by Artemis). We pick things up this week with a rather terrified look on Jason’s face—or at least, he would probably appear terrified if the posture of his facial muscles wasn’t being dictated by the glass wall of a containment cell.

More Bizarro == more better (who’d-a thunk it?)

As Jason struggles to calm down his dim-witted-but-adorable assailant, Artemis remembers her mission, and Black Mask watches his investment(s) from above. Once the “misunderstanding” between “red him” and Bizarro calms down, Sionis moves forward with his plans—for Jason, for Bizarro, and for Gotham.

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I won’t tell you what those plans are, but I will say that for some of us (myself included), Mask’s position at the end of the issue is hardly surprising. And if Lobdell had built the series around Jason’s infiltration of the villain’s operation, then this would probably be the review where I start to lower the marks and find more things to complain about. But thankfully, as we’ve learned through the previous three installments, this book is—at its core—about the band of misfits in the title. Lobdell has made Red Hood and his Outlaws lovable characters, each in their own way, and the plot is in service of these three and the development of their relationship.

That’s not to say that the plot is bad, either. Jason’s response to Black Mask is played straight, so you could put yourself in Jason’s shoes and argue that Lobdell hoped that you also would take it all seriously. But Jason is a screw-up. In spite of his self-awareness on a number of issues, he remains blinded by arrogance on others. So for me, it’s easy to read this and say “no, Lobdell knew we would see through this, and that’s the point.” Maybe I’m giving him too much credit, but the important point is that it works internally, regardless of the intent, because it is consistent with Jason’s character (as much as I understand it). But going back to my earlier point, it also works because enjoyment of the book doesn’t depend on the “presenting” story.

My biggest gripe here is the same gripe I’ve had all along: I’m not fond of the way Lobdell writes Black Mask’s dialogue. It’s felt a little too high-brow since the first issue, and it hasn’t changed much (he invites Jason to “break the fast” with him). I probably just need to accept that this is the way he talks in this book, but I do wish it wasn’t. I’m also hoping we get to see him lose control a bit in the future, as his overall demeanor has been more calm and collected than I’m used to, as well.

Still a great-looking book

Red Hood and the Outlaws remains one of the nicest-looking books in DC’s Rebirth lineup. Soy, Gandini, and Esposito continue to push out beautiful pages, and because Red Hood only comes out once a month, we haven’t had any substitues, so this book will probably be even better in trade as one nice, cohesive package.

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I don’t think I’ve given credit to Camuncoli’s covers in prior reviews, so I’m going to do it now. They’ve all been good, but this month’s is the best yet, and there’s not even a close second. Scroll back up and look at that thing. Go on—I’ll wait.

Recommended if…

  • You want to have some fun and don’t mind having your heart strings pulled along the way.
  • You dig the art team on RHATO and want to see how Veronica Gandini colors a Gotham sunrise, as if she wasn’t awesome enough before.
  • Pup-pup way?

Overall

I’ll just go ahead and say it: I really, really like this book. I can find flaws, but my experience of reading each month is mostly happiness. Kudos to Lobdell, Soy, Gandini, and Esposito for making me a believer, and for making Red Hood and the Outlaws #4 read even better and look even better than it has before.

SCORE: 8/10