After surviving their first field trip and picking up a new team member, Jason Todd and his students are ready to head home. Unfortunately, there’s trouble there. Dr. Shay Veritas and The Block are under attack by some unknown force. It’s up to Jason and his team to figure out just what it is!

The deeper into this arc we get, the more I’m really enjoying this whole set up. Say what you will about the rest of the run and it’s hits or misses, the idea of making Jason teacher to a gaggle of super powered kids bent on world domination is a fun one. To me, Jason works best when he’s surrounded by other characters, whether that be Artemis and Bizzaro, or the teens. Not only do his jokes land better, but we get to see more than the angry loner he tries to be. The traits that made him a good Robin, and keep him in the realm of anti-hero over straight up villain shine best around others, like his compassion for Bizzaro and his drive to keep these kids from getting themselves killed the same way he did. And honestly, it’s just fun to see him deal with a group of kids as headstrong as he is. 

Things start with Jason and co taking a ride in an Uber (or whatever the DC equivalent is to Uber) on their way to pick up point where they’ll be transported back to The Block. The scene shows off the huge doom symbol in the sky and dismisses  it just as fast as the team is transported into The Block. The kids complain about the rough transportation, and Jason passes it off as Dr. Veritas not meaning to transport them into a storage room, which brings up a continuity question. Both last issue and this it is made clear that Dr. Veritas doesn’t want them to come back to The Block, and yet here Jason is saying she’s the one who transported them in. 

From there, Jason sets off on his own to try to get to the bottom of what might have happened to Dr. Veritas, leaving his students in the relative safety of the storage room they arrived in. So far, we’ve seen Generation Outlaw working closely together. There hasn’t been a lot of time to see the kids broken off into groups, but this time that all changes. Very quickly after Jason leaves, the group falls into bickering and they all split off in their own directions, heedless of the danger in their home, and in complete defiance of Jason’s order to stay put. Babe in Arms is the only one who seems to still be concerned about an active attack going on, and even she and Zombie Mom end up outside the storage room and in a kitchen. 

With the team separated, we get some nice character moments that might not have happened with everyone together. Doomed and DNA team up, wandering through the halls somewhat aimlessly, and have a sweet moment together where they bond and a mutual romantic attraction is born between them. Contrasted, are the scenes of Devour and Babe in Arms and her Zombie Mom. Both take on a more somber tone as each one considers their own reasons for wanting to become a supervillain. Cloud Nine ends up with Jason, and together the two of them create some of the funniest scenes in the issue. Jason is very much the exasperated teacher (or Tired Parent) to Cloud Nine’s abundant energy and need to throw herself into dangerous situations. 

Something that’s been nagging at me is the fact that more and more as I read this arc, it feels  like Jason has been working with Generation Outlaw for a lot longer than we’ve seen. Things like Jason having previous experience with Cloud Nine’s panic tornadoes, and her own mentioning of hearing Jason talk about Bizzaro and Artemis before. At the same time, parts of the arc seem to be pointing to them all being relatively new to each other. I mean, the whole arc started with Jason proving himself as a teacher to them. It might be me nitpicking things, but the contradictions are enough to pull me out of the story when they happen. 

Through everyone’s explorations of The Block, it’s made obvious that there is something very wrong going on there. A relative hoard of Dr. Veritas clones are building something strange, seemingly controlled by an unknown force, and there is a whole room full of pods containing some type of creatures that are warped and monstrous. Vessel (the kid from the annual) also shows back up, lost and seemingly unable to remember his name. All of these feel like little parts of a greater whole we’ll figure out in the next few issues. 

David Messina is on art this issue and he does a good job recreating the characters in his own style. Something I really enjoyed that stood out to me about his work is how  he outlines characters against dark backgrounds, with the outline adding a pop of color against darkness or a panel the character is overlaying. It helps make the characters pop out of their panels. It also draws the eye to them, and thus conveying importance, which is a great technique when you’ve often got a lot going on in a panel or on a page. Rex Lokus’s colors help further this technique by coloring the outline with shades pulled from the background that contrast with the character in question. Much of this issue takes place in the dark, dimly lit interiors of The Block and Lokus handles the colors in such a way that even entrenched in darkness, details still stand out where they should and the characters don’t feel muddied. 

With Bizzaro and Artemis on the cover, and having appeared in the last few issues, it’s no surprise Lobdell includes them again this issue. Their appearance, however, creates more questions than answers. 

Spoiler

The two are somehow at The Block. There’s a nice moment where Jason confirms it’s them by saying he can feel it in his heart, then things go crazy as Bizzaro and Artemis attack him! It seems like they’re being controlled in the same way as the Dr. Veritas clones were. 

I’d doubt it was them instead of some kind of trick, except that Jason was certain this was really them. Unfortunately, I’m still left wondering how they got there. The place is stuck at the center of the Earth, and I doubt Jason televised his plan to be a teacher to the supervillains of tomorrow. So why would this be their destination? Why not Gotham? Surprises can be fun and I love that we’re going to get a reunion, but this, like much of their return, feels a little rushed. 

Generally, this issue feels like a set up for the next couple. It’s a little frustrating that every part of this arc has felt like a set up for another part of it, and I’m starting to wonder where this is all going. Sure, Jason’s a teacher, Artemis and Bizzaro are finally on Earth again, and it’s fun to put Jason’s teaching skills through the ringer, but what’s the point of it all? Previously, I wondered about Jason doing this to prove to himself he’s better than Bruce. We got a few more hints of that in this issue, but so far none of his students have been in serious danger, and (despite his own doubts on the subject) Jason’s teaching skills seem fine. There’s no life or death stakes, and the kids are mostly happy to let Jason keep on teaching. Nothing seems to be driving him to any sort of growth or tipping point, which is a problem I’ve found with the run as a whole. There’s often a lot of potential in the arcs, and they rarely seem to pay out in any real way. I’m afraid this one will follow the same pattern, but time will tell. 

Recommended If

  • You’re enjoying Generation Outlaw
  • Jason being a tired teacher is your thing
  • You’ve wanted to see more focus on the teens

Overall

The Generation Outlaw arc has had a lot of fun exploring a new group of teens and Jason’s strengths as a teacher to them. Last issue’s sometimes awkward and off humor seems to have mellowed this time in favor of moments that are both funny, and carry emotional weight for the characters. This issue, like many before it, introduces more mystery than answers and feels like it’s setting up pieces for something more. Unfortunately the lack of real stakes or forward momentum leaves me wondering what that something is, and if we’ll reach it, or if this arc will end up fizzling out instead. 

Rating: 6/10


DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.