With the League of Assassins, the All Caste, and Jason Todd‘s temporary amnesia all behind them the series offers the Outlaws a temporary reprieve of the most exclusive island resort in the world and a chance to bring back Isabel and tie-up the loose plotline of her relationship with the Red Hood.
Although the vacation starts well enough, despite Starfire‘s complaining about the hologram hiding her true form to the other guests and Isabel’s obvious distance, things take a turn when the super-villain in charge of the island gets wind of the Outlaws appearance and, assuming the worst, decides to preemptively strike.
Far less convoluted than several issues of the series, the straightforward storytelling works well and provides plenty of action while introducing a new enemy in Midas and the Army of the Golden Hand. Stephen Segovia steps in to do an okay job with the art this month although his Starfire is a little off and some of the wideshots are less detailed than I’d like (a common complaint about much of the New 52). Worth a look.
The All Caste/League of Assassins storyline comes to an end here with a tale about as confusing as everything else concerning the All Caste as Jason Todd punches all the magic out of Ra’s al Ghul thus saving the world and fulfilling his destiny. Seriously, that’s what happens.
A confusing end to an equally confusing series of events involving the magic assassin types who trained Todd, the issue does offer a pretty good fight between al Ghul and the Red Hood while Starfire and Arsenal battle various members of the League of Assassins. (Although Bronze Tiger, even if it is the crappy New 52 version of the character, doesn’t earn much more than a cameo.)
The best part of the issue is that it brings an end to the odd, and often awkward and confusing, storyline allowing Todd to play hero and put an end to this chapter of his life. Hopefully this means the comic will move forward with less poorly-defined mysticism and on to more of Todd’s journey of redemption. Hit-and-Miss.
After taking several months off from this title I returned to see Jason Todd get his memory returned and battle alongside Starfire and Arsenal against the League of Assassins and newly-rejuvenated Ra’s al Ghul. Although the issue still relies a bit too much on the All-Caste subplot that’s been a huge part of the tile since it’s New 52 launch, the characters of Essence and Ducra are kept at arms-length here.
Given the choice of watching his friends die at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul and his soldiers, Todd chooses to remember his past and, once fully restored, reveals this was all part of his (irrational) plan.
The issue ends with the Red Hood and the Outlaws doing a pretty good job of holding their own against the League including the Red Hood fighting Bronze Tiger to a standstill. But should Todd be victorious (which seems likely as the comic has solicitations for the next several months) I’d like to see the character given a chance to spread his wings without the baggage of the All-Caste or the Outlaws to weigh him down. For fans.
While Starfire and Roy Harper fight among each other, with Professor Hugo Strange (who in the New 52 is Roy’s psychologist), and with The Untitled who make a dramatic entrance to break-up Roy’s latest session, the Red Hood flees from members of the League of Assassins who are chasing him down (but not for the reason he thinks).
Most of the Kory/Roy/Strange storyline can be ignored. The Hood story is far more interesting as we get the return of Cheshire as well as Lady Shiva and the introduction of the New 52 version of Bronze Tiger (which, like everything else in the New 52 is a pale imitation of the original).
After acquiring Jason Todd, the assassins take him back to ‘Eht Alth’Eban, the home of the League of Assassins, where the inform the Hood they don’t want him dead. What they actually want is the guy with no memory of how to assassinate anyone (or the hatred which drove him into that life) to become their new leader. Um… okay. I guess intelligence isn’t a prerequsite to join the League of Assassins. Hit-and-Miss.
The Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual picks up the recent storyline as a mind-wiped Jason Todd returns home to the secluded island with Starfire and Arsenal only to begin investigating the past he worked so hard to forget. Yeah, nobody saw that coming. Sigh.
The annual gives us a pair of notable guest-stars first being Arsenal’s mentor Green Arrow (who is way too young to have trained someone Roy’s age, making for some incredibly awkward flashbacks). The second is far more interesting as Chesire is introduced as one of many assassins looking to cash in on the bounty on Jason Todd and his friends. Although she’s unsuccessful, she does pave the way for the next wave of killers who include Bronze Tiger. With the title going to such lengths to reintroduce old characters I have to wonder if this is the title where Catman might make his return.
A whiny blank slate Jason Todd is about as bland as it sounds, and although Chesire’s appearance works the issue has a hard time determining just how many powers this new version of the character actually has (she can phase, now?). Hit-and-Miss.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #20 picks up with Starfire and Arsenal trying to convince the magic monk who has wiped Jason Todd‘s mind clean to return his friend’s lifetime of horrible memories, whether he wants them or not. The question of whether or not we are more than the sum of our memories and whether bad memories are better than none at all is debated as it appears the New 52 editorial staff have decided what’s best for Red Hood is a clean slate.
We get flashbacks into Roy Harper’s first meeting with Jason Todd as well as the revelation that Starfire’s short-memory has been largely exaggerated (which should quiet some of the critics for this version of the character). I don’t like the idea of taking such a drastic step with the character after the hard road to redemption Jason Todd earned.
Whether or not it’s good for the character, or for the New 52, we’ll have to wait and see, but my initial reaction is this is an easy choice for DC Comics to give the character a completely new direction while thumbing their noses a decades of history. Well, this is the New 52. Pass.
How can a comic that starts off so well end in the kind of trainwreck that will damage two of DC’s Bat-books for months to come? The latest issue of Batman and… gives us a team-up of a more brutal Batman than we’ve seen in a while with Red Hood who has finally found some peace with his mentor after the fallout of mostly wretched Death of the Family.
The only good thing to come out of Death of the Family was bringing Jason Todd back into the fold. Well, that was short lived. When Batman tries to force Jason to face his death and resurrection, hoping for clues to do the same to Damian, the hard earned respect between the characters is thrown away in a handful of panels (perhaps for good).
Although I think Todd overreacts to Batman’s grief, the result is to push yet another member of the Bat-Family further from the Dark Knight Detective. Batman and Red Hood #20 also offers another appearance by Carrie Kelley looking for Damian, teasing that she’s not going away anytime soon. Pass.
Jason Todd gets little more than a cameo here as the story focuses on Arsenal and Starfire tracking down their friend who, after surviving the Joker‘s final attack, left them and headed straight for the All-Caste. By the time the duo track him through the Himalayan mountains and discover the secret entrance to the home of the magical monks who continued to train Todd after he returned from the dead, Todd has already made a rash decision which will effect all three of their futures.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #19 is a mixed bag as we’re given a Red Hood wiped of nearly all his memories (at his own behest). If this was where the New 52 planned on taking the character I’m not sure why they didn’t just allow the Joker’s final attack to do the damage.
The issue also has an odd appearance by Essence who attempts to influence Arsenal through his dreams. The point of this subplot isn’t very clear (or interesting), but it’s arguably better than the beyond bland blank slate of Jason Todd we’re left with as the issue closes. The consequences to this issue might be interesting, but this issue is a mixed bag.
After last month’s cliffhanger, Jason Todd struggles through a dream state after putting on the Red Hood mash which the the Joker lined with acid as his final joke on the Bat-Family.
It’s an odd issue with Alfred and Bruce Wayne at Jason’s bedside, whose conscious of them but trapped in a nightmare concerning his past mistakes, the Joker, and Ducra the former head of the All Caste who comes with a message concerning Jason’s failure to move on from the horrors of his past and a warning about what may happen to those he loves if he continues on his current path.
We’re told there will be no lasting physical damage from the Joker’s trap and it seems Todd’s mental state isn’t impaired either, so the entire episode feels a little pointless unless the goal is to use this experience to transform the Red Hood from anti-hero to hero and bring Jason back into the Bat-Family. One further note, Red Hood and the Outlaws #18 also brings Jason and Bruce a little closer (possibly foreshadowing his return as Robin?). For fans.
Set immediately following the events of Death of the Family, the latest issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws returns its main character (whose been conspicuous by his absence the last couple of months) as Jason Todd says his goodbyes around Wayne Manor before leaving with Starfire and Arsenal.
Not only does the Red Hood return here but the comic returns the focus of issue to Todd which makes quite a bit of sense as the former Robin talks with the current version, Dick Grayson, Alfred, and finally Batman himself before he’s finally ready to hit the road. I like all those conversations as well as Damian and Arsenal fighting to prove who is the more juvenile of the pair.
Red Hood has been a complicated character well before the New 52 in finding the right balance with the character’s deadly intentions and still honoring his past as Robin. For this issue writer Scott Lobdell gets it right which makes the comic’s twist all the more surprising as the Joker left our protagonist one final present which may have lasting effects on the Red Hood’s role going forward. Worth a look.