Last month, Jason took on the role of teacher to a group of young metahumans, each hand-picked by Lex Luthor to be the world’s next supervillains. After proving his worth to his new students, Jason and company set off to follow up on a distress call from S.T.A.R. Labs and ran straight into Doomed, a kid who looks a lot like Doomsday. With Cloud Nine in his clutches, can the team rally and save the day?

The issue opens in Ma Gunn’s house. It’s been a while since we’ve seen her and if, like me, you totally forgot what happened or missed that issue, I’ll give you a quick rundown. Back when Bizarro was smart, he trapped her in a bottle and left a fake letter for Jason to find, saying she was out of town. Since then, her bottle’s been sitting in Bizarro’s room (Side note: you can check out Brian’s great review for issue #18 here).

Bizarro and Artemis come across this and are understandably confused. It’s an interesting lead in to them, but a little confusing if you haven’t been keeping up with things. All in all I’m happy to see that Lobdell seems to be not only turning his focus back on them, but also steadily working them towards a way home, even if it’s slow going. 

After that introduction Lodbell jumps back to Jason’s side of things. Jason kicks back and tells his team to work together to stop Doomed. It goes about as well as you’d imagine it would. There’s a fight, followed by a misunderstanding, and DNA gets in a surprisingly poignant line about looking past one’s exterior. It’s fine, but there are few surprises here. 

I was intrigued last month by the idea of Jason teaching kids. I was hopeful of the potential to see him step into a mentoring role and maybe bring back some of that heart that’s been missing from Red Hood for so long. Unfortunately, nothing has really moved that hope forward. Jason doesn’t have much of a presence this issue, and his teaching style is very hands off. As for the team, they feel like set pieces. Lobdell introduced all these new characters an issue before, and instead of learning more about them we’re introduced to another new character, along with his backstory. This makes Jason teacher to 6 kids now, if you include Vessel from the Annual. The idea is there, but not enough work is being done yet to really show us Jason teaching or making a connection with these kids.

Even when Lobdell does divert focus to give us backstory for Devour, it’s underwhelming and feels totally out of the blue. There’s no reason or connection given for this dive into the past. Devour is injured, but neither the injury nor the situation seems to have any bearing on the flashback at all. What’s worse, there’s hardly any new information given out in this flashback.

Things I learned about him:

  • Devour is from North Korea
  • He got his powers recently 

That’s it. That is the grand total of information given out. I still don’t know anything about his family, his early history, or his motivations. It’s not even clear what Lex was offering him beyond “you’re special”. I wouldn’t have been as upset with this if more time had been spent on Lex actually talking with Devour. That at least would have provided an avenue for his motivations for joining the team.


The issue returns to Bizarro and Artemis at the end, and while it pokes fun at Jason, it also left me with a few questions. That bottle Ma Gunn was in? It breaks and the most surprising thing comes out of it:

Spoiler

Pup Pup! Yay!

Pup Pup is one of those characters I love as dearly as Jarro (Starro in a jar, the newest and most adorable of Robins, and arguably the best character in Justice League) and now he’s real or alive or sentient or something? Sign me up for a whole issue exploring this. Or just, you know, another whole issue with the Outlaws. 

My only nit-pick about this is Ma Gunn. I don’t like the lady, but I also don’t want her squished because Pup Pup threw the bottle she was in off a shelf so he too could escape. We spent a lot of time with her earlier for things to be brushed off as “oh she’s fine…maybe”. Hopefully the next issue will clear things up. 

I love the growing focus on Bizarro and Artemis, and I cannot wait for them to get back home, but beyond them so much of this issue felt like it was just filler. I know it’s only the second in this arc, but I wish there was more momentum. Especially on Jason’s side of things. I had to read this issue twice to really settle on how I felt, and ultimately I settled on “meh, it was just okay.” There is no driving force to this arc because I don’t know why any of them (beyond Jason) are really here. Comics are character driven, and I just don’t know enough about these kids yet.

Rocafort’s art shines with these crazy characters, especially Doomed and Devour. You could spend most of your time in this book just exploring all the details he creates in each of them or looking at the details in the close up of Bizarro’s eye.

In addition, his paneling is still my favorite aspect of his art. It’s fun and playful, from the bright outlines to the way panels pop in front of one another. It’s dynamic and pushes readers through the story in new and interesting ways. 

I’ve already briefly talked about the backstories in this issue, but colorist Steve Fichow does a great job in differentiating the flashbacks from the present story by creating unique aesthetics for both. Where the present timeline is full of bright, vibrant colors, each flashback is muted. The colors Fichow chooses for these are almost monochromatic, browns, tans, and grays that indicate the difference in past and present in a clear and appealing way. It’s a nice contrast to everything going on in the present.

A few odds and ends

  • The book did check in with Dr. Veritas, and I’m finding her likeable despite her short time in the books. The single page of attention she gets here made me wish we’d lingered a little longer on her and reminded me that I’m still not sure why she said yes to all this. 

  • In Devour’s flashback, he’s wearing a wristband with a word on it. After some brief research it looks to say Ha-jun, a fairly popular Korean boy’s name. So, I lied in my earlier statement of what we learned. If you speak Korean or are willing to do some digging, we also learned his real name. Which is a fun detail that I hope pays off down the line. 
  • There’s no editors note in this issue or the last, so I feel less bad about missing this detail, but Doomed is not a new character. He’s from a title of the same name written by Lobdell. It was a spin-off series that came out of the Superman Doomed crossover event from the New 52. 

Recommended If…

  • You want to see Jason’s teaching style
  • You’re interested in this new team
  • Artemis and Bizzaro! 

Overall

There’s a lot that goes on in this book, and at the same time not much at all. It makes a little headway into the plot started last week, but spends a lot of it’s time on flashbacks that don’t give enough answers. The Artemis and Bizarro scenes were nice, and my favorite part. Things simply felt a bit jumbled, like Lobdell has a lot he wants to do, but isn’t quite focusing in the right areas yet. This idea of Jason as a teacher has potential, I’m just not seeing it realized yet. 

Rating: 5.5/10