RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS: REDEMPTION by Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort
Jason Todd is a character who’s gone through a lot of changes in the DC Universe. He was the second Robin to work with Batman, the first hardcase junior partner. And he was the first Robin to die. Yep, there’s been another since then, I’m told, but with the connection to the Lazarus Pit that brought Jason back to life, I’m betting Damien will be around again one day. But I digress.
With the advent of the New 52 in DC, a lot of heroes got touched up, origins changed, backstory cleaned up and streamlined, made over more neatly and presentably in most cases. I don’t know how I feel about this new Jason Todd/Red Hood. Scott Lobdell, the writer, evidently wanted to go sideways to a degree with Jason, and the end result is something I like, but it seems like he’s far removed from the Batman roots, even though Red Hood and the Outlaws remains tucked securely into the Batman family.
As it turns out, big surprise to me, Jason got trained by some really weird martial arts/mystical beings (the All Caste) after he was brought out of the Lazarus Pit by Talia al Ghul. I like the new origin add-on because it brings a lot of storytelling potential with a broader background to play in. Jason is edgy and harsh, north of Batman but south of Deadpool, but – in ways – reminiscent of both.
I’m not so high on Roy Harper’s new incarnation. As Arsenal, he packed a lot of baggage as Green Arrow’s sidekick. Not that Green Arrow has been retconned into a young man, Roy no longer fit the fill as a sidekick and became a partner instead. Then he got ousted and suicidal, given a stern talking to by Killer Croc of all people. This is not the Roy Harper I’ve known, but the character is interesting. I think I’d have been happier if this had been a new character entirely.
Starfire (Princes Koriand’r) has already created a stir of controversy throughout comicdom. Her lack of clothing is familiar, but her attitude toward casual sex is nothing like the Starfire I remember from the Marv Wolfman days. She’s different and yet the same, but I have the same problem with her that I do with Roy Harper. Just wish she’d have been someone new instead of someone I’d known who got turned inside out.
The storyline is full of twists and turns as Red Hood ends up chasing after revenge and getting in touch with his gentler feelings. Oddly enough, the graphic novel collects the sixth issues as the first one (the story was told out of order for some reason). I had a good time reading through the adventure and the character interaction. I love the otherworldliness of the series so far.
By far the most gripping part of the book is the amazing art. Kenneth Rocafort is fantastic. I’d never seen his art before, but his pages are some of the most brilliant I’ve ever seen. I love the two-page spreads, and the M. C. Escher inspired bit when the heroes have to leave their memories behind as collateral to continue their hunt is gorgeous.
While I’m not completely bowled over by the book, I am compelled to keep reading, so I’ll pick up the next graphic novel as well.