Nine-tenths of this book could have been rubbish but I’d still have loved it for the one page that made me grin from ear to ear. The page that had Jason Todd show sidekick Sasha/Scarlet that he’s a redhead who used to dye his hair to look more like Dick. Bye bye black-haired street kid with bad attitude, hello ginger circus boy who was actually a nice kid. I never liked the re-origin and attitude handed Jason by writer Max Allan Collins, presumably because someone decided Jason’s family tragedies and persona echoed Dick’s too much. That was the idea – Jason was a substitute and needed something of Dick’s character and abilities to prosper – and that original story gave us Killer Croc, one of the first villains since the Forties to have any staying power. In giving Jason his history back as he builds up his motivations, Grant Morrison is making the second Boy Wonder a character again, rather than an embarrassing piece of Infinite Crisis business that outstayed its welcome.
So thank you Grant, and thanks also for putting me off my supper as we see just what new villain Flamingo gets up to. And as it happens, nine-tenths of the book isn’t rubbish, as the writer continues to show us the new Batman and Robin team bonding. There’s no dissing of Dick from Damien this month, as we see a more vulnerable boy wonder, shocked to learn that Scarlet is the girl he tried to save from Professor Pyg a couple of issues back.
As for the Red Hood, yes, it is Jason, as many of us assumed not to be the case – too obvious. It works for me, though – Jason’s been the Red Hood previously, and with his new Joker-Red Hood appearance, he looks the part. And having been revealed as the redhead Robin, he’s no longer drawn as a double for Dick. With his ginger mop and Mallen streak he’s similar to Jason Blood, though his face is more rattily Rorschach.
Penciller Philip Tan’s storytelling gave me a few problems last month, with some sequences difficult to follow. Things are more straightforward here, though he really needs to work on some of the faces: That’s Dick, Alfred and presumably some killer homunculus escapee from Arkham. Scary. And while I won’t spoil his last page entrance, let’s just say the Flamingo’s appearance doesn’t live up to his build-up.
All in all, this is a blisteringly good issue, with poor Scarlet’s psychosis both chilling and heartbreaking and the dynamics between the two duos hotting up. It could have used a bit more Alfred, but what Batman comic couldn’t?