Red Hood and the Outlaws #11 review

Red Hood 11

We’ve reached the tipping point! As the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall confront General Heinle and his army, the Outlaws find themselves on different sides of the same conflict. But who’s right? And can their friendship survive? Find out in Red Hood and the Outlaws #11.

A disappointing conclusion to an engaging arc

Even the best of series produce a dud from time to time, so it was inevitable that RHATO would get here eventually. But I really wish it wouldn’t have sullied an otherwise satisfying story. “Who Is Artemis?” has been an excellent expansion of its titular character, and even the very familiar “your friend isn’t who you think” plot setup for this issue feels like it could have worked so well. But just when the battle gets interesting, it abruptly ends: Akila is defeated by elapsed time. Even if the limits of the book’s length meant we had to miss the physical conclusion, I would have been satisfied with the philosophical end. Instead, Akila utters a snarky comment and then we fast-forward to after the battle.

Sure, Jason utters some cringe-worthy dialogue, too, but that’s hardly new. Lobdell’s writing often straddles the line, but his stories and characters on this book have been so satisfying that it’s easy to push through any challenging dialogue. With such a disappointing resolution to the arc, the bad dialogue is more obvious. It isn’t an utter failure, but without the “protection” that it usually enjoys, it looks like exactly what it is: less than perfect.

On the positive side, I really appreciate that Lobdell doesn’t prolong Artemis’s gullibility. I was willing to buy the notion of her guilt giving Akila a chance, but it was important for Artemis’s own integrity that she be able to see the obvious. So while she doesn’t immediately oppose her friend—instead trying to make the conversation about Heinle—both Lobdell and Soy establish her doubt nice and early, so she doesn’t ever come off as willfully ignorant.

The art still looks great, but it’s somewhat less functional

As always, Soy and Gandini look great aesthetically, but the layouts here are not the most engaging. I can’t help but blame that on the script, which piles on a lot of talking in he midst of what should be an epic fight sequence. There isn’t a lot of variety in perspective, and as such, the artwork doesn’t tell as exciting a story as it typically has in RHATO. Still, the artists deserve plenty of credit for their usual attention to detail. This book is always beautiful when they’re on it.

A bump in the road

There are a number of potential reasons for this disappointing conclusion. Maybe Lobdell’s schedule made it difficult to give this the attention it needed. Maybe DC pushed for a certain kind of conclusion in a certain time frame. Who knows? What I know is that this team has proven themselves, I still love this book, and I’m looking forward to them bouncing back next time.

Recommended if…

  • You’re committed to this book.
  • You want to know how this arc wraps up.

Overall

If you were hoping for a worthy conclusion to this latest RHATO arc, you may be disappointed. The Jason Todd faithful will probably see this through rose-colored glasses, but the rest of us will be left wishing for better. It still looks pretty, and Lobdell makes some good character choices, but I’ll be glad to put this issue behind me. Here’s hoping for a quick bounce back.

SCORE: 6/10

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