Review: Red Hood and the Outlaws #1

Two weeks ago, the Rebirth one-shot of Red Hood and the Outlaws gave us a pretty angsty look at former Robin, Jason Todd’s life. Determined to infiltrate Gotham’s underground in order to take it down, we and Jason were reminded of the rift between him and his former mentor Batman when Bruce swore he wouldn’t hesitate to take Jason out if he stepped out of line. This week, writer Scott Lobdell reminds us that Jason also has a sense of humor.

Given his background (a childhood of petty crime, death at the Joker’s hand, resurrection by Lazarus Pit, etc.) it’s easy to forget that Jason is still a young, slightly cocky guy. While he’s not as plucky as, say, Dick Grayson, he does have his own twisted gallows humor. Take the flashback to his youth when he went crashing through a window after tackling a villain about to shoot Batman. As he readily admits, Bruce could have handled the situation himself, but, “where’d be the fun in that?” While the moment is primarily meant to remind us that Jason is all too ready to jump into a dangerous situation regardless of the danger to himself, it also emphasizes the idea that being a superhero doesn’t have to be a burden, it can also be its own twisted kind of fun. And Lobdell spends much of the issue proving that.

A major part of the credit for the issue’s success, though, goes to artist Dexter Soy and colorist Veronica Gandini. While Gandini’s bright, varied colors keep the book from feeling too brooding, Soy’s layouts are truly a thing to behold. Filled with striking splash pages and gorgeous two-page spreads, the issue has an epic, big hero feel that would seem more fitting of Superman or Batman book. Admittedly, all that artistic flare runs the risk of making the book feel too bombastic, but Lobdell is so gifted at building tension that the character reveal on the final splash page lands exactly as it should.

While I won’t spoil who that character is here, you can probably figure it out from looking at the cover of this and the previous issue. And even though we know certain characters are bound to appear at some point, that doesn’t make the moment any less exciting. In fact, it leaves you desperate for more. If only every post-Rebirth Batman book were this good.

Rating: 9/10

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.