Scott Lobdell is out. James Tynion IV is in. Starfire and Arsenal are looking for Jason Todd somewhere in the Himalayas after he dipped out of Gotham City following the events of “Death of the Family”.
Can they find and save the red-hooded lad? And is it good?
Red Hood and the Outlaws #19 (DC Comics)
We open up with a good ol’ fashioned plane heist scene. Sort of like the beginning of Dark Knight Rises only instead of Tom Hardy’s Bane spouting bad-ass, albeit muffled remarks, we get… the Khanate.
Yup. I too… have no clue who these assholes are.
But as you can infer from their leader’s shoddy Fu Manchu mustache — they do indeed really admire historic Mongolian military rulers… and of course, mean business. Well, that and the enormous rifle he’s holding up to Jason Todd’s head while grinning in deranged fashion kind of suggest they’re at least up to no good:
Then again, everybody looks a little deranged in Julius Gopez’ art style, as evinced by his Jason Todd who resembles some strange conflation of Matt Dillon and Gary Busey. Not to say that his art is terrible… just a little rough at times.
I’m with Busey… er, Jason Todd.
We cut to two hours later, where Starfire and Arsenal scope the wreckage of Jason’s flight and encounter some tight-lipped locals.
Looking for more answers, the two continue to traverse the wild, wintry frontier and Roy begins to falter in the cold. It’s a good thing Starfire’s an alien with a swimsuit model’s physique and an insusceptibility to the frigid Himalayan climate; wouldn’t want a little thing like subzero temperatures prohibiting those “not the least bit egregious” shots of her Tamaranean love sponges.
The rest of the issue takes place primarily in the nightmare world that pops up whenever we dabble with Jason’s tenure in the All Caste. This time instead of peering into Jason’s subconscious however, we gaze into the mind of Roy — where some interesting faces materialize:
If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Red Hood’s actions at all besides his brief mention in the issue’s beginning, it’s not because I’ve forgotten the guy: it’s because he’s barely in it. We get some more dream world action with Roy and Starfire as they discover the Acres of All and an appearance by Jason towards the end, but not much more than that. Gopez is better at drawing this sort of stuff at least, what with the sprawling fantasy landscapes and gruesome looking monstrosities:
And when Starfire and Roy finally do find Jason? They’re in for a surprise. Seems Jason had a run in with Baby Dhalsim here, which is making him act a little loco. What a cool guest appearance from a Street Fighter character to boost ratings! Oh wait… that’s not Dhalsim’s offspring, you say? It’s just S’Aru? Oh. Alright then:
- We get to delve into the mind of Arsenal a bit.
- Funny interaction between Starfire and Arsenal.
- Dream World setting.
- Barely any Red Hood/Jason Todd in this at all.
Is It Good?
Not really. It’s not poorly written or completely boring: it just suffers from an uninteresting setting and villains. Sadly, my major beef with the storyline and current direction of Red Hood: I really don’t give a shit about the dream world. Call me crazy, but I dug Red Hood a lot more when he was a gritty street-level, gun-wielding vigilante who hijacked shipments from criminals and caused vengeance-fueled ruckuses in Gotham.
I give props to Lobdell for exploring some new territory with the character, but the fantasy realm might be just that: too chimerical. Red Hood and his Outlaws are incongruous to the setting and when everything is taking place in La La Land I’m thinking less “This is some bad-ass Matrix shit” and more “This is some pseudo Doctor Strange shit,” which leaves me feeling all detached and what not.
These plot devices can be interesting when used sparingly or when utilized to gain greater insight into a character’s mind — but not as the driving point for a character like Red Hood. You know something’s up when I’m left wishing I could have seen Jason’s battle with the Khanate on the Wayne private jet instead of what actually transpired in the issue. Tynion seems to have a good grasp on the characters and come issue’s end he sets up a major change, so here’s hoping he brings the characters back into more appealing territory.