At this point it’s safe to say the DC Comics Rebirth event has been successful–in most cases the new direction for the heroes has been interesting, mixing things up just enough so that the characters feel fresh, but not completely changed. Even when Rebirth issues did fail they at least offered a new direction. We check out Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth and ask the question, is it good?
Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth (2016) #1 (DC Comics)
So what’s this book about? After checking out our full preview, the official DC summary reads:
When a shocking encounter with Batman solidifies the Red Hood’s status as a villain, Jason Todd goes deep undercover to take down Gotham City’s criminal underworld from the inside. Along the way, Jason meets two unlikely allies: a disgraced Amazon warrior named Artemis and a half-baked Superman clone called Bizarro—and the DCU’s “Dark Trinity” is born!
Why does this book matter?
Scott Lobdell blew me away with a good balance of action, dialogue, and action movie gusto with his last Red Hood comic, so why not this Rebirth issue? Plus it’s drawn by Dexter Soy who has wowed us many times over with other Robin related comics.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Does he do this with all the criminals?
Lobdell writes the perfect issue for anyone who previously had no idea who Red Hood. It not only retraces how Batman and Jason Todd first met, but also highlights the training he went through and his untimely death at the Joker’s hands. Told mostly through captions, Lobdell captures Jason’s voice well and you definitely get the sense that he’s a bit brooding and a bit more on edge than Bruce/Batman. Even his approach at appearing like a villain is in your face and it’s apparent Lobdell is going this route with the character moving forward.
Since much of this issue is flashbacks it’s a good thing they work so well. As a reader who knows the character’s history it was a bit of a disappointment that so much time is spent reminding us who he is, but it’s delivered with some action packed and stylized art to help it go down smooth. Lobdell also inserts some quieter moments that feel genuine and important–they involve a moment between Batman and Jason having first met, Batman and Jason getting a picture taken from Alfred, and the moment Jason got the Robin costume.
Soy’s art works well to capture that brooding sense of frustration and anger. In one panel, even though Red Hood is wearing a mask, you get the sense that he’s angry and wants some sort of redemption though I doubt he even knows what would bring it. When we see flashbacks to Jason’s life and death Soy nails the iconic images (a truly gorgeous full page spread of Batman holding the dead Robin for instance). Batman always looks his customary angry and focused self too, and there’s a fantastic full page spread of Batman looming over Red Hood that’s frame worthy. The colors by Veronica Gandini are darker in tone–especially in the flashback–and they help imbue a sense of despair that works for the issue.
It can’t be perfect can it?
If you’re hoping for some kind of explanation of who “The Outlaws” are you’ve come to the wrong place. A full recap of who the Red Hood is and how he got there is nice and all, but there isn’t enough meat on this issue to deliver anything close to a “Rebirth.” There are 10 full pages devoted to telling Red Hood’s backstory, which is nearly half the comic!
On top of that, the character hasn’t really changed all that much and Lobdell doesn’t define the character’s psychosis as something that can even be fixed. Character work wise we don’t get a sense of Jason Todd outside of angry and looking for a fight. A few captions seem to suggest he’s looking for some kind of approval from Batman, but it never definitively says this. Instead, the only Rebirth we get is the new mission Red Hood is focusing on with Batman’s permission (which is strangely similar to Nightwing’s mission I might add).
Is it just me or is it always weird to see superheroes eating?
Is It Good?
The best Red Hood recap complete with action packed flashbacks and touching moments. If you know anything about Red Hood though, this issue is easily skippable.