Jason Todd is still in a small town! Doing things! And pie! Spoilers, people.

Not for me

If you’re one of the regulars here, you know that I love this book. Scott Lobdell and his band of talented co-creators won me over at the start of Rebirth, and through all sorts of creative and other changes, I’ve stayed hooked in.

But not today.

There are redeeming elements to this issue: Pete Woods’s layouts, most of the action sequences, and a good portion of the dialogue. But there are two things that bothered me enough that my impression of the issue is stained.

Funny that isn’t funny

For starters, there are a few moments where Lobdell tries to be silly with his captions, and the jokes just don’t land for me. A line from Batwoman on the last page seems both out-of-character and, again, not as funny as Lobdell likely intended.

Overall, I found the funny stuff easier to overlook the second time through, but I still don’t love it. To be completely transparent, my first thought was “it’s the Lobdell from The New 52.” I keep chasing that thought back into my brain, because this title has more than proven itself in the past two years, and it’s not fair to keep hanging out the past. But if you felt the way I did about some of the caption-humor in Teen Titans, then that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about.

Would someone kill Jason Todd already?

The bigger problem here is that there are a number of silly plot holes, and they all center around killing Red Hood. We open with Jason taking in some big apple festival in the town where he’s been staying for a few issues. He approaches the owners of the house where he’s been staying, and they give him a cup of cider. Then the husband pulls a sniper rifle, levels it at Jason, and is kicked in the face when he gets spotted in the reflection on the bottom of the cider glass.

So here’s the first hole. If these inept tools wanted to kill Jason, why not level the sniper rifle at him when he’s standing farther off with his back to them? He didn’t have a cider glass mirror at that point, and the sniper rifle isn’t ideal for close quarters anyway.

The rest of the town joins in, and though Jason takes a few of them out, he eventually succumbs to sheer numbers. He wakes up tied to a beam and a post, and comes face-to-face with some Grundy-esque zombie man. It looks like the townspeople tied him up and left him for said creature to finish him off. And there’s plot hole number two.

The townsfolk clearly wanted to kill Jason at the festival. Otherwise, why make your first play with a sniper rifle? That’s a killing weapon, not a maiming weapon. And if the townsfolk wanted to kill him, and they succeeded in knocking him out, then why go through the dance of tying him up for Not-Solomon-Grundy to play around with him? Why not put the sniper rifle in his mouth once he’s unconscious? It doesn’t make any sense.

Watch your attitude

This title has been outstanding since Rebirth began, and its success has been rooted in its heart. Jason’s relationship with his friends and his father, and his regression when things went sideways—these are the hooks that kept me connected. This is the first issue where there’s an emotional distance, and I don’t like it. Your mileage may vary, of course, but if you’ve been a fan of RHATO these past few years, I suspect you’ll be as disappointed as I am.

Recommended if…

  • You enjoyed Scott Lobdell’s work in The New 52. This one’s more akin to that than his recent efforts.
  • You like Pete Woods’s visual storytelling. There’s some great action here.

Overall

I’m disappointed. Red Hood and the Outlaws has been one of my favorite books of the past few years, but this issue is a sudden departure. Hopefully things will return to form soon. Woods is an able storyteller, and Lobdell is more than capable of producing better work. It just didn’t do it for me this time.

SCORE: 6/10