Red Hood and the Outlaws 22
James Tynion IV, Julius Gopez
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
The series that just couldn’t seem to find its footing has finally done what I had faith in James Tynion IV to do. That’s right, the new creative team had a little bit of a learning curve with Jason and his ragtag band of misfits, but I think it’s safe to say that the mantle has officially been passed on from Scott Lobdell and a new age of Red Hood and the Outlaws has dawned. And let me be the first to say that I couldn’t be happier. Jason Todd and Roy Harper have been two of my personal favorite characters – not at first, mind you, but after being expertly written by Judd Winick (pre-Flashpoint) and then, of course, Lobdell (post-New 52). To say that Tynion and new series artist Julius Gopez had tough shoes to fill is an understatement. But man oh man am I happy that they stepped up to bat, because this issue really felt like they knew what they were doing.
The story stretches the entire history of Jason Todd (post-death/return, obviously), which is impressive in upon itself. But the portrayal of Talia al Ghul’s League of Assassins and the fact that Arsenal is actually being a badass again is the real shocker in this issue. A less experienced creative team would have completely botched the opportunity to tackle such characters as Bronze Tiger (another of my favorites from before the line-wide reboot), Lady Shiva, and Cheshire, but Tynion and Gopez own the fact that these bad guys are so over-the-top and downright terrifying that you can’t help but be impressed by the way they so casually flirt with death and danger, even at the dinner table. So, long story short, there’s going to be a huge multi-group war, and it’s all for entrance to the secret city that houses the original Lazarus Pit, which is pretty much the source of both immortality and, yep, you guessed it, evil. So Roy’s being manipulated to break in and save Jason (who doesn’t want to be saved), Jason’s being manipulated into protecting the city by leading the League, and Kori’s probably going to end up getting stuck in the middle of an ancient battle for the balance of good and evil, which she has no business in being. But shit’s definitely going to hit the fan next issue, because Roy showed up at the front gates with a huge array of weapons and is ready for battle, not really being given a choice at this point in time. Oh, and did I mention that Starfire is actually being written in a believable (conflicted, yes, but believable) way for the first time since her reappearance in the New 52? That’s also neat.
The voices of each character are unique and likeable, which is tough because, really, when you think about it, there isn’t really a clear “good guy” in this book right now. I’m beyond excited to see this battle for a number of reasons. The first being that I really want to see Cheshire and Roy go at it. Take that for what its worth, but I know for a fact that fans of the old DC Universe are with me on that one. I also look forward to Jason’s inevitable rise to power within the League of Assassins, which will prove interesting because Lady Shiva obviously hates him and Bronze Tiger is the perfect mixture of self-righteous and crazy and honestly seems like he believes him. It will also be interesting to see how that all plays into the current issues of Batman Incorporated, if at all, what with the impeding “final battle” between Batman and Talia, the current leader Ra’s al Ghul’s empire. And then there’s the main thing I’m looking forward to in issues to come: the fact that there are issues to come. This one proved that this team knows what they’re doing, even if the characters don’t. It’s safe to say that Red Hood and the Outlaws is not only in safe hands, but that it’s not going anywhere. So do me a favor and if you dropped the book after Scott Lobdell left, go ahead and pick up this issue. Trust me. You won’t regret it.
My Rating: 5/5