Jason Todd: Gotham Businessman of the Year! After his hostile takeover of the Iceberg lounge from its worthless, waddling founder, the Red Hood is settling in for a quiet night of innocent club ownership. But a blast from the Caste from his past has other plans, and a brawl between manifold weirdos ensues. See for yourself, in Red Hood: Outlaw #33.
Red Hood has fallen since there was an “s” in its name, but it hasn’t fallen all the way down. This book is still written fairly well, and the artwork is usually worth the trip. That’s pretty much where we are for #33, too. I don’t love it—feels a bit like treading water—but I enjoy reading it. Lacking a strong, overarching story (or, to be fair, a visible strong, overarching story), this issue more than makes up for it with plenty of cool and hilarious action. I don’t recognize “The Five Aces”—the crew of baddies who enter the Iceberg without an invitation and square off against the Sisters Su—but they’re goofy enough in appearance and behavior to make me interested. And the Sisters Su, well, they’re a hoot in general, though I understand your mileage may vary.
Pete Woods and Rex Lokus return for the line and color art, respectively, and they do an excellent job. I’ve praised Woods’ action storytelling on this title numerous times before, and those same quality chops are on display once again. My favorite sequence by far is a delightful, descending battle, featuring Jason taking on the leader of the Five Aces. This sort of layout is hardly novel, but it’s a technique that works really well, and the perspective Woods has chosen makes it particularly effective. We aren’t just seeing a fight play out in limited (or abstract) space; rather, we get the combined excitement of the battle and the fall, leading us not just through time, but also the physical space of the Lounge. They aren’t just doing something—they are also going somewhere, which is a lot more visually interesting.
I’ve said before that I think Lokus is an especially good fit for Woods, and you can see the accumulated benefit of a now several-issue collaboration. I don’t have a copy of an earlier issue handy to compare, but it seems like we’re getting more texture and personality in the colors than we have previously—perhaps Lokus, having settled in, is bringing more of his own flair. Whereas the previous installments saw Lokus getting closer than others toward emulating what Woods does when he colors his own work (see his first few issues of Justice League with Christopher Priest a year or so ago), this one seems a bit more distinct. And best of all, it still works.
Peteri’s letters get the job done, and I can’t say anything looks bad; but, particularly with such an animated battle sequence (and with such bizarre characters), I wish he would go a bit crazier with the SFX. He’s got a nice FA-BOOOOM, when the incursion begins, but the rest of the scuffle is punctuated with much smaller, more basic effects. To be fair, he is often working in limited space; but I still would have liked him to find a way to rise to the zaniness on the page.
- You like your Red Hood solo. Sort of.
- You hate Oswald Cobblepot almost as much as Jason Todd does.
- You like a good comic book beat ’em up.
Red Hood: Outlaw #33 isn’t great, but it is a lot of fun. Lobdell’s battle banter never gets overly silly, and Woods and Lokus turn in some excellent visual storytelling to keep the kerfuffle moving along.
DISCLAIMER: Batman News received an advance copy of this book for the purpose of review.