Red Hood and the Outlaws #19 review

Red Hood has gone missing and it’s up to Arsenal and Starfire to find him. But can they reach the mystical realm of the All Caste with the mysterious Essence out to stop them?

Oh, that was fun, I’ve always wanted to write DC solicitations copy. But I also like writing reviews. And this issue gets consideration as we’ve a new writer on board, as James Tynion IV replaces Scott Lobdell. And honestly, if I’d not known, I’d likely have been unable to tell the difference. That’s a compliment – I’ve a lot of respect for writers who take over a book and don’t immediately blow the place up >cough Jim Starlin’s Stormwatch< but take things softly softly, catching that monkey later. From what I've seen on the Bat-books, Tynion's a talent, and I don't doubt that before long he'll start tweaking this book to match his own storytelling sensibilities. But before he moves the characters forward, he's showing us that he understands Starfire, Arsenal and Red Hood as they are, recreated by Lobdell for DC's New 52 promotion.

So here’s Red Hood, aka Jason Todd, troubled by recent events in the Batman titles and taking drastic action to move on with his life. Here’s Koriand’r, the confident, fierce warrior, brimming with empathy. And Arsenal – Roy Harper – still wounded by the break-up of his superhero partnership with Green Arrow and dealing with addiction issues. These three are the charismatic cast who interact so entertainingly on adventures on Earth and beyond.

This time the quest is personal, as Kori and Roy travel halfway around the world, at great personal cost, to find Jason. They know he wants to be alone, and while Kori respects that, she cares enough for Roy to accompany him on his fool’s errand to find Jason – Roy worries Jason’s in such a bad place, he’ll never come back. And on a more selfish note, Jason is part of the family unit he’s forged with Kori, something he needs to keep him sane.

It’s Roy who is the standout character this issue, using his intelligence and heart to track down his friend. While Jason wants to get away from his heartache, Roy embraces his own painful memories to forge ahead and find the All Caste’s Acres of All hideaway. And when he does reach the secret spot, and comes across Jason, there’s a new mystery to be solved.

Three All Caste characters appear this issue, and they’re all annoying – there’s Yoda Woman Ducra, still a ghost, still a smug know-all; the exiled Essence, riddled with secret agendas; and S’aru, memory-mangling bald kid. As a huge non-fan of mystical Eastern kingdoms in comics, and all their attendant wise warriors, I hope this storyline is the last we’ll see of the All-Caste for a long while – they’re a weird fit for Jason Todd, and not a comfortable one.

The cover, part of DC’s Not WTF promotion promising surprise gatefolds, is pretty gorgeous, courtesy of artist Al Barrionuevo and colourist Javier Mena.

Drawing the interiors, Julius Gopez impresses as much as Tynion. While he forgoes the enjoyably random panel shapes of previous artist Kenneth Rocafort, he keeps the characters on model, making for an easy transition between artists. And he really comes into his own when called on to draw the monsters that wander the Acres of All, and Roy’s fever dream – aided by Nei Ruffino’s glorious colours (click on image to enlarge).

If Gopez wants to especially please me, though – and why wouldn’t he? – he should alter Kori’s costume and quit with the ‘sexy’ postures. A few issues back Kori looked great in a skin-covering space suit, but now she’s back in barely more than boots and a couple of nipple pasties. It’s demeaning, and distracts from a great character. And yes, I realise Kori is at ease with her body – I followed her in the New Teen Titans from Day One – but there’s carefree and there’s offensively ridiculous, and here we’re well into embarrassingly juvenile territory; Kory is a princess and a superhero, not a Brazilian carnival transvestite. Cover her up.

Or have Jason and Roy fight crime in nothing but hood, quiver and g-strings – now that would make for a great solicitation.

9 thoughts on “Red Hood and the Outlaws #19 review

  1. My favorite moment in the issue was when Roy proved to be so great a friend that not even his personal demons could stop him from getting to Jason's side. Now THAT'S loyalty!

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  2. I'm a little irritated to read both you and Steve here commenting on Roy's demons. Wasn't that very much in the past? There was a flashback in Red Hood #3, sure, and then there was a scene in Red Hood #4 or so where he wasn'T drinking with the others in that bar. But other than that I thought we were dealing with someone who has largely overcome his past problems, having now moved on to this new relationship with Kori. As much as I like the angle of an addicted superhero – I really do, it's interesting – I don't know if I want to go back to that. James Tynion said in an interview he intends to go to a pre-Flashpoint status of relationships but, honestly, I'm not feeling that. Let's have some new directions along with the New 52, right? I know there are fans out there who want Kori with dick Grayson, who want Wally West, who want Raven as a hero in the Teen Titans…me, being braught in by the New 52 initiative, I don't have a lot of those nostalgic feelings and I'd say let's rather see stuff that we haven't already seen. How about new relationships and really drastically different status quo?

    Eh, anyways, that was me rambling. Thanks for taking my suggestion recently and reviewing this issue! Sounds good. I'll be sure to read it first thing when my next comics hsipment arrives…

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  3. Hi Anon, I never said Roy is currently an addict, I said he was 'dealing with addiction issues'. I'm no expert, but I believe it's not uncommon for the fight to keep personal demons at bay to be an ongoing thing. That doesn't make Roy less of a hero, I'd argue it makes him moreso.

    See what you think of the review when you've read the book 😉

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  4. Whew maybe Red Hood as a character escapes you, or maybe you just haven't been reading the comics lately. Because Jason going to a mountain guru to give up his memories is completely out of character and I found myself disbelieving as it unfolded. Seriously why can't some people stop fanboying over dcu and think a bit. The entire issue was almost a complete mess. The art was hideous, did you see some of those expressions? The story lagged on with that mountain scene, and ended with Jason agreeing with a magic mind wipe. With Jason written as a completely independent character,this is very very unlikely. I do like the added focus on Roy because he is an underdeveloped character. But yesh the issue … just hurt.

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  5. 'Because Jason going to a mountain guru to give up his memories is completely out of character and I found myself disbelieving as it unfolded. Seriously why can't some people stop fanboying over dcu and think a bit.'

    Yup, because we never have weird character moments in the New 52. And we still have part two to come.

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  6. Nice to see you liked it Martin.

    I don't mind the fan service (to some degree) when they flesh out a character and we are getting a personality and motivations from Kori. That being said I would like her outfit explained. Is she wearing it for cultural reasons, biological reasons (for absorbing light), just because she wants to or some other reason.

    –Eki

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  7. Having read Batman and Red Hood #20 this week, the precursor to this issue of Red Hood (that's rubbish scheduling, DC!), Jason's wanting to lose his painful memories seems more understandable.

    Whatever the case, I'm sure they'll be restored soon enough.

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