Nightwing joins the team for this extra sized annual issue, but why, and for what? Find out as Nightwing, Red Hood, Bizarro Superman, and Artemis join the circus. Wait, what?!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“BROTHER IN ARMS”! When Red Hood discovers a new wave of criminal activity in Gotham City with a traveling circus at it’s epicenter, he recruits Nightwing t help the Outlaws infiltrate the big top! Can the two would-be brothers put their differences aside and crack the case? Or will their division be the harbinger of their demise?
Why does this matter?
Red Hood and the Outlaws has been a real treat as Scott Lobdell has written a strong character driven story that has brought this team together in surprising ways. Plus, an annual gives readers a chance to jump on board for one longer adventure.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Dang, nice splash.
Tyler Kirkham draws a strong issue with a darker tone and a clean style that’s aided by Arif Prianto’s colors. In an explosive (literally!) opening scene, KGB Beast shows up in impressive style and looks damn huge in a full page splash. Later the heroes look sharp in their circus outfits and double page layouts help stretch the scenes on a larger scale. In the final fight, Kirkham keeps the action easy to follow which is tricky given the guns, knives, and fists flying in the scene.
Scott Lobdell writes a strong enough story with Nightwing joining the team to assist via circus goings on and Russians. The best aspect of this story is how Nightwing reflects on his relationship with Red Hood and Lobdell makes their bond clear and understandable. There’s also an interesting exploration of Artemis and Nightwing which lays on the flirtation pretty thick. Heck, even Bizarro Superman gets some loving on. There’s also a nice message about how these so-called outlaws tend to do the right thing, which makes them anything but outlaws.
After reading who he is and then reading the “guest starring Nightwing” I audibly said, “Duh!”
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s hard to look at this more than a casual caper turned into average fight sequence. A lot of page time is spent setting up KGB Beast only to have it all devolve into a random secret hidden weapons cache and a fistfight. How KGB Beast can hold his own against this team (really Bizarro should easily defeat him) is beyond me. On top of that, a lot of time is spent with Red Hood recruiting Nightwing for aid only for Red Hood and his team to rush into a situation without Nightwing to aid them! Nightwing serves as a way to explore Red Hood and his past, but his purpose to the plot isn’t a strong one. The fact that the story ends on heroes punching a villain an extra time to win only cheapens the overall experience further. This is an annual worth skipping.
Is It Good?
This is an annual that has its moments, especially if you love these characters, but ends up being pretty skippable. The worst aspect is the villain and basic plot, which is throwaway at best.