Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Kenneth Rocafort and Blond
Hey, remember the 90’s? Where books were extreme? Main characters killing with quips and no remorse, over sexualized females for the sake of it, and flash placed firmly over substance? It was a great time to be a casual fan, and a hard time to be a die hard, but anyone who came up during then has some memory that can be attributed to that era. Like Image Comics, for instance, where the guys were all built like super athletes, and every woman is an impossibly proportioned super model. Some people have fond memories of that era, and others still refer to it with venom in their voice. So is it really a good thing to remember the 90’s?
Let’s start with the flaws that the issue displays with the 90s formula, which also happens to be the most controversial part of the issue. Starfire is one of the three main leads, and while her history is seemingly unaltered, there has been a few somewhat major changes to her. Like that, apparently, Tamaraneans know humans by sight and smell, but are plagued with short attention spans. Roy and Jason make it clear that a team that can be assumed to be the New Teen Titans existed, Kori doesn’t remember any of it. On top of that, given how quickly she propositions Roy, and the fact that she’s openly sleeping with Jason, the “slut” card is being played heavily. Now, not to insult the character, but Kori is hardly a saint. She’s been around the block (though usually winding up with Dick Grayson), she’s admitted for decades that sex and love on her world are completely different concepts (echoed here by her telling Roy that love has nothing to do with sex), and has never had an extended run wearing an outfit other than a space bikini. Yes, the sight/smell thing is awful, but she was a slutty character a few months ago when she was getting pissed at Captain Comet for not understanding that she wanted a one night stand, and she’s still slutty now.
Does that cover the issues? Alright, moving on. The book opens up with Red Hood and Starfire breaking Roy out of an execution in a Quaraci jail. Roy’s past is glossed over, but it’s safe to say that he was still a sidekick, and still a member of a group composed of the New Teen Titans (though swap out Donna and Raven for Dustin and Lilith…whoever Dustin is), but it’s curious whether or not he was a ‘kid sidekick’ as he doesn’t seem too much younger than Ollie. Roy is something of a dumbass, not really a bad guy, just someone who does dumb things…which is how he wound up in jail in the first place. I mean, dude almost blows it with Slutty Starfire, that requires a certain level of dumbass. He’s also a bit of a badass with a bow who doesn’t shoot to wound, and while that is only displayed briefly, I’ll admit that the fight was a pretty cool scene.
Jason is the star of this book though, so no amount of slutty Tamaraneans or former junky archers can really take away from the fact that his presence is what is going to push this book. He has the Bat ties, he used to be Robin, hell, he’s the one with his name in the title. So this book is going to sink or swim based really on him and him alone. Thankfully he’s actually a pretty interesting lead for this title; he’s a smarmy jackass who does some pretty cool things. The plot going forward seems to be bringing in new creations, a character called Essence shows up to talk to Jason about something called the All Caste and how The Untitled is destroying them, and that someone Jason was once close to in some way is now dead or about to die looking like a hobo. It’s ominous and vague and to be honest, the flaws of this book aside, this is what’s making me want to come back next month. Jason dealing with something crazy and possibly mystical in the Himalayas, and the last page is pretty cool. Not gonna lie.
Kenneth Rocafort steals the show here, and no, I don’t mean for Slutty Starfire and her choice of micro bikinis both in and out of battle. The action is gritty and bloody and full of detail, and it makes the opening pages of the issue look phenomenal. I mean, I was sold on his art before Kori even popped up, but then all of the sudden we’ve got this cool action and there’s some T&A contrasting against it perfectly. The character work steals the show, I mean, you’ve got Jason Todd back to his black hair and while he does have the resemblance to Dick Grayson, there’s enough unique about his appearance to make him stand out. Roy looks younger than he has in years, and Kori…may have gotten implants. Essence has a cool look to her, and I’m wondering how often we will be seeing her. I’d like some backstory. Really, if I have any complaint to make, it’s that the book has two overly chiseled male leads and a sex goddess alien. The characters don’t all need to be so ridiculously built.
The issue is a mix; there’s some cool stuff going on with Jason, but Roy only has the surface scraped in his character, and Kori is a complete black hole. The opening jail break of the issue is pretty cool, but from there it splits. Jason’s part of the book is intriguing and sets up the plot for the first arc, but Roy and Kori just have an awkward discussion followed by sex and controversy. The art is solid, and I personally enjoyed it. Really, it felt like something I would have picked up from Image in the 90’s, and while I know a lot of people might harp on that not being a good thing, but me personally? It’s going to get me back for the second issue. It might not be for everyone, but it’s a fun book.
Tags: Arsenal, Batman, DC Comics Relaunch, Jason Todd, Kenneth Rocafort, New 52 (DC Comics), Red Hood and the Outlaws, Reviews, Scott Lobdell, starfire