There are a lot of comics out there, but some just stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we look at “Red Hood and the Outlaws,” the Rebirth edition, and the continuing adventures of Jason Todd.
Who Is This By?
“Red Hood and the Outlaws” is produced by writer Scott Lobdell, primarily with artist Dexter Soy, colorist Veronica Gandini, and letterer Taylor Esposito. Other artists featured in this run include Kenneth Rocafort, Joe Bennett, and Tyler Kirkham.
What’s It All About?
“Red Hood and the Outlaws” follows the supposed Dark Trinity of the DC Universe, Jason Todd aka the Red Hood, Artemis of Bana-Mighdall the disgraced Amazon, and Bizarro, as they go on adventures, maybe become better people in the process, and stop some bad people from doing bad things. Or maybe just stop crime overall. They have plans.
What Makes It So Great?
The Rebirth era of “Red Hood and the Outlaws” is finally living up to the potential that readers saw in it during the New 52 incarnations. It cannot be understated how poor the New 52 series was, this disparity in quality made for about a year’s worth of reading laced with the back handed complements. However, the consistency this book has shown in the 26 issues published so far has erased any doubt that this is indeed a good book worth recommending. That achievement is one of the things that makes this book good for longer term readers. For shorter term readers they just get to jump in when it’s good.
Surprisingly, this revival is under the pen of previous writer Scott Lobdell, primarily working with artist Dexter Soy. Together they replace the books vacuous male gaze laden sensibilities with something more in line with a book like “Secret Six.” It isn’t as colorful as “Six,” but operates on a similarly sincere wavelength as Jason, Artemis, and Bizarro, work together to become better people and maybe take down some bad guys. The character driven nature of this book has allowed each member of this trinity to take the spotlight for a specific arc and give the various action adventure elements of the book more weight. Shifting the spotlight also takes it off of Jason, whose traumatic past can feel like the only note writers hit on with the character, and let him lay in sarcastic commentary from the background. As the series has progressed I find myself oddly attached to Bizarro, here an imperfect clone of Superman, which is something that never occurred with previous iterations of the character. Artemis is quickly given depth and turns into one of the book’s breakout characters. By keeping things focused on this core trinity of characters, “Outlaws” manages to be one of the better character books DC is putting out.
Of the 26 issues released Dexter Soy has illustrated 18 of them, along with series colorist Veronica Gandini, making them the artists most associated with the series. Soy’s line work is detailed with a surprising amount of solid black without feeling like an overdone send-up to the nineties. Part of this pull back is due to Gandini’s coloring, which is an interesting mix of environments done in muted tones while the figures are often highlighted with bright reds, a fitting color given this trio. Soy has proven very adept at finding the sarcastic, somewhat black, sense of humor in Lobdell’s scripts and organizing pages for that tone to come through. For all the machismo and bravado Jason Todd walks with, Soy consistently shows how untenable that position is for him. Lobdell writes some good one liners, but Soy gives them a context that makes them work.
“Red Hood and the Outlaws” is a book about characters pushed to the margins of their respective communities by their own actions (or perceived ones) and finding a new community amongst the outcasts and living by their own code. They may not be heroes in the way their families want them to be, and that’s OK. The DCU has plenty of heroes, but it only has three outlaws.Continued below
A somewhat minor but effective point in this book’s favor is how much of an island it is in the DCU. It hasn’t participated in any Bat-Family or Event crossovers, which was an impediment in the book’s previous run. While higher ups market on a more interconnected DCU, this lack of participation makes following this narrative and having it be a satisfying read much easier for anyone looking to add something to their pull or pick up a new collection. These characters have guest spotted in other books and vice versa, but the core of their ongoing journey is found just in “Red Hood and the Outlaws.”
How Can You Read It?
“Red Hood and the Outlaws” currently has three trade paperbacks out, collecting the first three arcs ‘Dark Trinity,’ ‘Who is Artemis,’ and ‘Bizarro Reborn’ accounting for the first 18 issues and an annual. The fourth trade, ‘Good Night Gotham,’ collecting issues #19-25 is due out November 6, 2018. Issue #25 is out today, with the book’s second annual coming out later this month on August 29, 2018.