Red Hood and the Outlaws 19
James Tynion IV, Julius Gopez
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Sometimes a comic book handoff isn’t seamless. Sometimes the writer and artist don’t get the immediate feel for the characters that the previous creators had at the end of their run. And sometimes, just sometimes, even though it doesn’t quite work, it doesn’t quite make you go tell everyone to give it a shot. Even though it doesn’t quite convince you, you find yourself enjoying the book and welcoming a new change of pace. And, for better or worse, that is about where I am after one issue of James Tynion IV and Julius Gopez’s run on Red Hood and the Outlaws.
The plot is a little confusing, mostly because of the fact that it is needlessly nonlinear and the art is not the greatest. I’m not entirely sure what was happening throughout the book, but to the best of my knowledge, it was essentially a throw-away issue where Starfire and Arsenal are looking for Jason, who apparently took a Wayne jet, crashed it, and disappeared to a magical place from his past. The art is inconsistent, the dialogue seems rushed, and I can see editorial’s controlling hands on every single page of this story. But all is not lost because just before I wanted to give up and dismiss the issue entirely, we get to the ending, which should have been the beginning, in my opinion. The team is reunited, only to discover that Jason had S’aru (the wacky mind-wiping magical monk from quite a few issues back) take away all of Jason’s memories because he didn’t want to deal with the pain and misery that is associated with being, well, Jason Todd. There’s also an editorial note telling us that there’s still a story about Jason and Bruce in Ethiopia that has yet to be told, which I wonder why that wasn’t the story we got, instead of this one. It’s almost as if there were multiple stories trying to be told within one issue and the pressure of taking over such a difficult title was just too much for a novice writer.
But I think the biggest problem I have with this new issue is the fact that it took one of my favorite writers of all time, Scott Lobdell, off the book. Now, I’ll admit that I do enjoy Tynion quite a bit on Talon and in his backup stories for both Batman and Detective Comics, but I’m still not completely on board with him as a full-fledged, on-his-own writer yet. Maybe he’ll turn me around, and I certainly hope so, because Lobdell’s run was a solid one that made me care about three characters that I had always dismissed before the launch of the New 52. But I remain hopeful. Perhaps the story of Bruce and Jason in Ethiopia will further explain a few of my questions, such as, why is Jason so angry? What did the Joker tell him in Death of the Family? And most importantly, how did his face magically get fixed? I mean, we all saw that original cover, right? Why the change, DC? I sense more editorial rumblings that made a comic that should have been great and could have been good into something that was just kind of… average.
Warning… The unused cover below is disturbing. But not only because of its graphic image. It is also disturbing because it looks like a story that I wanted to read, rather than the one that I felt obligated to read. All kidding aside, this is the story I want. Please tell this story, Tynion. And more importantly, please let him tell it, DC.
My Rating: 3/5