What happens when a guy who came back from the dead, a former drug addict turned soldier of fortune, and an alien ex-slave band together? You get the plot of Red Hood and the Outlaws! This title was the winner of the poll I held a few weeks back and, as promised, I’m reviewing it this week! With a team of characters I have very little exposure to, Red Hood promised to be, at the very least, a new experience for me. But how did this title shape up in general and in relation to the rest of the New 52 I’ve looked at this month?
Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 begins with Red Hood, aka Jason Todd aka the sidekick formerly known as Robin II, heading to an ambiguously Middle Eastern nation known as Qurac to rescue his associate, Arsenal, aka Roy Harper aka the sidekick formerly known as Speedy. With a few well-placed arrows and bullets, the two escape the prison facility only to be assaulted by a ton of tanks…which are hastily dispatched by Starfire, aka Koriand’r aka fan service a la mode. It’s not long before the three head off to St. Martinique for some good old fashioned relaxation and love triangle creation. Before they know it, however, a mysterious visitor arrives with dire news for Jason and the youth is forced to head out on another mission, one that reeks of the past and may send him back to his grave.
Overall, the plot of Red Hood and the Outlaws is fairly straightforward: a group of outcasts searching for purpose in life join together in order to defeat some sort of great evil. There’s a sense a mystery, but it still doesn’t feel as mysterious as some of the other New 52 works I’ve checked out. The dialogue is fairly good, with a few clever bits of humor, but nothing in the story really stands out. I also feel that Starfire’s lines and actions paint her as more or less a fan service character (more on that in a minute). Arsenal and Red Hood already seem like interesting characters, in contrast, with the latter’s baggage giving him a good edge to the story. Jason has clearly left his past behind, as there’s no direct mention of Batman whatsoever and, according to an interview with writer Scott Lobdell, there won’t be much, if any, more mention of the Caped Crusader in the next few issues. I have to say the writing comes off as fairly average, but the series does show some promise so I’ll wait for issue #2 before I’m too harsh on the series.
Kenneth Rocafort heads up Red Hood‘s art and I must say he does a great job. His character designs look great and the fight scenes are especially cool. Once again, however, I must note that Starfire is exhibited as a fan service character, drawn wearing next to nothing, and later appearing in a swimsuit scene (which is actually SLIGHTLY important to the plot…but they still could’ve probably handled it better). My favorite thing is probably the character’s costumes which complement their characters very well. There isn’t much I can complain about in terms of drawing or artistic choices, though the art cannot be called exceptional it is still above average.
Red Hood and the Outlaws is somewhat of a mixed bag: the writing and artwork is pretty good, with the latter trumping the former, though it still leaves me wanting a bit more. The end of the comic felt a bit abrupt, though I’m not sure if that was intended; perhaps this is Lobdell’s style of cliff-hanger, so in this case I’ll wait to see how things play out next issue. As promised, I’ll continue to follow the series and keep you posted; who knows, maybe it will become amazing! I am intrigued to see what will happen, but less so than some of the other titles I’ve reviewed.
Brett Simon is a twenty-one year old recent reconvert to the world of comics. Though he railed against Starfire’s use as fan service, he won’t deny that she looked good.