The Outlaws are on a mission—with Task Force X! What could possibly go wrong? Find out in Red Hood and the Outlaws #17!

Good fun

If nothing else, this installment is a good excuse for some laughs. I would read the heck out of twelve issues of an Artemis/Harley team-up, and there’s quite a bit of good banter between others, as well: Jason and Croc (who bemoans his tendency to end up in sewers), Boomerang and Deadshot (both of whom resent Bizarro’s motivation for bringing them along on a side quest).

There’s some decent real-talk, as well. Croc sees straight through Jason and tells him so, and even tries to steer him toward a better course. This may bother some of you, but I like a Croc that isn’t all Killer, and such an approach is not without precedent.

Still waiting on some answers

My biggest complaint is the same as it was last time (and the time before that): after setting us up to watch Bizarro rage against the dying of his newfound intellectual light, Lobdell shelved that plotline in favor of romps with Batwoman, Inc. and Waller’s Bomb Squad. There are small, veiled references to Bizarro’s condition, and hints that something sinister—or at the very least sad—awaits, but the big man’s decline is now (presumably) taking place off-panel, and I’m not crazy about that choice. There has always been humor and a bit of light-heartedness to RHATO, but it has existed in balance with the emotional arc of the characters. I don’t hate having pure fun, but I want what was promised, and I don’t want to wait for it any longer.

All of that said, while we don’t get “hit in the feels,” we do get some mysterious advancement of the story in relation to Bizarro. The mission Waller sends the team on involves infiltrating the lair of a (former) big bad from Lobdell’s Teen Titans run: Harvest. Among other things, Harvest had developed technology to protect his assets from another Superman clone: Superboy. I strongly suspect that Bizarro has some interest in that technology, and considering that his physiology responds differently than Superman’s to Kryptonite, I imagine these countermeasures would aid, rather than hinder him. We’ll see where this goes.

As always, the artwork delivered by Soy and Gandini is first-rate, with the pair managing to add detail and interest to even those scenes that lack naturally compelling features. Here’s the full credits spread:

Theres not much around, but there’s still plenty of texture in the artwork, and it isn’t just tacked on arbitrarily—it just looks like a darn good translation of a blizzard from life to page.

Odds and ends

  • Bizarro has heat vision. Did Luthor’s fix cross his powers? Or did we never see this Bizarro with fire breath and cold vision?
  • The new trade dress looks great here, too, but I’m curious about the Bat-logo. On Batman last week, it was circular—think Batsignal rather than chest emblem. On RHATO and Detective Comics (also out this week), the logo suggests an oval.
  • This made me chuckle way too hard: 

Recommended if…

  • You don’t mind the extended break we’ve been taking from Bizarro’s emotional arc, because you’ve enjoyed the fun with other teams.
  • Soy and Gandini, people. Still.
  • Artemis and Harley sounds like an amazing team-up.

Overall

While I’m still waiting—somewhat impatiently—for more on Bizarro’s decline, Red Hood and the Outlaws #17 provides plenty of fun and spectacular artwork to keep me (mostly) sated in the meantime. Lobdell and co. have created a world where my complaints are usually about wanting more, and that’s a much better spot to be in than its opposite.

SCORE: 7.5/10