Or – “Keepin’ Your Gingers Numbered For Just Such An Emergency…”

So, I have a confession:  I don’t always read my comics first thing on Wednesday.  That said, I managed to hear about the controversy about characterization in this book BEFORE I read it.  Now, as for how it affected my enjoyment of the book?  For that, we have to digress, just a bit…

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Red Hood And The Outlaws:  There is an old and storied tradition in superherodom whereby the experienced hero takes a youngster and teaches him or her the ropes.  Captain America had Bucky, Catman had Kitten, even Captain Battle had Captain Battle, Junior.  (Occasionally, they inverted it, as with Stripesy, or even avoided it entirely as with Captain Marvel, Jr.)  That has led to triumph and tragedy over the years (and given the current status of Wally West and Bucky Barnes, even the triumph has it’s elements of tragedy) but few sidekicks have had it worse than Roy “Speedy” Harper and Jason “Robin II” Todd.  From drugs to sex addiction to brutal murder, the erstwhile Red Hood and Arsenal have been through hell in the old DCU, and it seems that at least part of that has carried over into the new DCU.  Chuck in a character arguably best known for an extended relationship with Jason’s predecessor, and this could get interesting.


The opening sequence of this issue reminds me of nothing so much as the movie “Point Break,” with Roy Harper as Keanu Reeves and Jason Todd as a very-Batman-influenced Patrick Swayze.  Roy has been captured by by Quraci insurgents after helping to overthrow their leader, but he is allowed a visit from the in-universe non-specific equivalent of Amnesty International.  The art is quite beautiful, as Kenneth Rocafort makes Roy look as though he really has been stuck in a Quraci prison for month, but annoys me by having Red Hood’s mask (seemingly a metal or ceramic faceplate) show emotions.  Where it all starts to jump off the rails is the moment where Roy points out attacking artillery, and Jason replies that instead of a backup, he has 38 of them.  This leads Roy to respond, “Who do we know who carries a pair of 38’s?”  First of all, the pun is really strained and immediately took me out of the issue, and secondly, it doesn’t even really follow from what Red Hood actually SAID.  Starfire comes in hot, guns blazing, and stop with the jokes, because I know where you’re going from “hot” and “guns.”  I don’t mind her new costume so much, except for the region of bra/armored bodice thing, but Rocafort’s redesign of Koriand’rs legendary hair is kind of disheartening.


We cut from jokes about one of our character’s breasts to a full-page spread of her showing them off, swimming in the ocean.  It’s gratuitous, but seems to almost serve a plot point, as a kid snaps a photo of Kory in her bikini and uploads it to the internet.  Rocafort draws a very lovely Starfire, but it gets really squicky as Jason reveals to Roy that Kory doesn’t really remember much about her relationship with Dick Grayson or her time with “the gang you USED to hang with.”  And then, we get the scene that has the internet ablaze, as Starfire walks up to Roy (while Jason is occupied talking to an invisible woman) and blankly asks if he wants to have sex with her.  Starfire’s lack of pupil, combined with Rocafort’s relatively stiff positioning and the utter blunt cluelessness of the dialogue combine to create a picture of Starfire as the perfect-10 love doll imaginary girlfriend, and it frankly bugs the hell out of me.  The rest of the issue is Red Hood off on a quest for a lost society or something that reminds me of R’as Al Ghul in ‘Batman Begins,’ but it feels a bit flat, and the issue never manages to get the unpleasant taste that the beach scene leaves behind.


If I were to break this issue down, it’s 1/3 pretty awesome Butch and Sundance adventure, 1/3 mysterious-but-cliche-and-familiar fighty-fighty conspiracy blah-blah, and 1/3 talking with a particularly egregious failure of both character and editing, the comic book equivalent of finding a mess of gristle hidden in your steak.  I’m unnerved at the fact that Starfire’s sense of sexual liberation (which has ALWAYS been with the character, let’s be honest) has been conflated into such a ridiculously mistimed and out-of-tone moment.  If I were to rate the issue based everything BUT that page, I would characterize this as a well-drawn, middle-of-the-road relaunch outing, but the juvenile treatment of sexual matters here renders one of the main characters into nothing more than a punchline, and in a book with only three characters, that’s unforgivable.  Red Hood & The Outlaws #1 does a lot right, but the wrongs are so wrong as to imbalance the whole issue, earning 1.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I don’t want to chalk this one up as a complete loss due to some seriously dubious gender political issues, but I would have had a lot more fun if the sexy bits were less creepy and Starfire played for more than objectification.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  With the revelations that Arsenal/Speedy’s “old gang” (implicitly the New Teen Titans) existed in this reality, I start to wonder who, exactly, the characters who DC hinted don’t exist any more actually ARE?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. The character change to Kory is horrific and unforgivable (unless we’re to find that this is really a LMD that replaced her or something I guess). Not only is it an insult (to say the least) to a good character and a great relationship (and damn Denny O’Neil for putting the kibosh on it!), but this is a character who’s nost recent claim to fame came in a kids’ cartoon show!

    I was looking forward to the NuDCU Teen Titans.

    Now I’m scared of what I might find.

  2. I’m not as worried. Lobdell was also the writer for Superboy and that turned out rather good. We also have some pretty spotty memory from Kory here so this could be something he’s building into. I’m not sure though as, unfortunately, I haven’t picked up my comics for the week yet.

  3. So I read my first comic, cover-to-cover, for the first time in 20 years, but I’m not entirely sure what the pun is between the article and the comic. Does Starfire use 38 Scecials, if so, where are they in the comic; I didn’t see any. Or was it a breast size reference to guns? That was my guess. (Also, there is an ammo company named Starfire who makes ammunition for 38s.)

      • “A ‘pair of 38′s’ was a joke about breast size as a play on gun caliber…”

        I totally didn’t get this when I read it, seemed like strange random dialog.

        If that’s what it was supposed to be, it’s just flawed! 38″ would be the measurement around the entire chest, so to have a “pair of 38s” you would need two women!

        • If that’s what it was supposed to be, it’s just flawed! 38″ would be the measurement around the entire chest, so to have a “pair of 38s” you would need two women!

          Yep. Hence part of why the joke fell flat (you should excuse the expression) for me.

  4. Balian_Ironguard on

    DISCLAIMER: I know nothing about any of these characters beyond “Rise of Arsenal” is a versatile punchline for any nerd joke. So, going into this book cold, I have two observations:
    1) I really dig the art in this book in a big way
    2)herpaderp boobies lawl

    The “reinvention of Starfire” (as it seems to be, given the comments) was the main thing that fell flat for me. And not knowing who this ‘Essense’ person is, and the not-quite-working secret cult names also bring me out of the book. That being said, I want to see more of this ‘Red Hood/Arsenal’ dynamic.

    Final review from a DC ‘n00b’: 21/2 slices. Ignoring the obvious pandering to twelve year old boys elements with Starfire, I’m willing to flip through the next issue, if only for the fact that Kenneth Roccafort has me wanting to find more of his stuff.

  5. I pretty much agree with you Matthew. I loved the art for this issue. When Starfire came into the picture with all her “uninhibited-alien-I just want to please men-pinned up-sexual energy,” I was greatly disappointed. I felt as if I was reading something 12 year old boys wrote in an effort to make “the most awesome thing ever.” Too bad, because aside from her ridiculousness the art was awesome and the issue was mostly ok.

    • Not that I liked it much either, it felt more to me like Starfire wasn’t there to please men, but she was going to use men to please herself and if not Roy than someone else would do, she didn’t seem to care much whether it was him or not. It’s a difference, whether that changes anything or not I won’t hazzard an opinion there.

  6. Why does it seem that if DC wants to start fresh with some characters (i.e. Superboy, Starfire, etc.) they have gone with an unexplained memory loss to explain the “fresh” take on the character? If they are going to dump the character history that came before, then dump it. Memory loss seems like such a cop out.

    • I’ve noticed this as well, and it’s annoying. Some of the titles, nice fresh start, others feel like i’m reading a continuing story that i’ve got no idea what is going on. And yeah, the amnesia thing is so overdone, it’s not even funny.

  7. Love the art and action, had trouble with the dialog and back history flag planting, and while the Kori (was the in-issue use of an “i” an intentional attempt to distinguish from “Kory” of the past?) stuff was creepy, I’m not as ready to leap to judgment as the controversy has stirred.

    Let’s talk about another piece of media with blank-eyed, creepily objectified women… Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse“. I abhorred “Dollhouse” when it first came out. Brainless pliant sexy slave girls who obey your every whim as dolls and can be programmed into any sick fantasy (with costume changes to boot) with overprotective male saviors and a Matrix mind-interface rip-off. The first few episodes, where Echo is made to play the sexpot, genuinely made me uncomfortable.

    However, over time, what was arguably titillation and ratings grabs (squeezing Eliza into various fetish and fantasy wear) developed into a proper rebuke, challenge, etc. to that initial exploitation. That stuff got played for character fodder and it was good.

    If we don’t all leap to judgment, don’t condemn Lobdell into cowing and changing course, there is a lot of plot potential there even with this initial exploitation and characterization. We’re expected that the Outlaws will, at a minimum, remain these three characters. So what happens if and when relationships deepen and grow but aren’t reciprocated or bound by notions of monogamy or territoriality? Yeah, everything seems like a juvenile fantasy NOW, but that’s how ALL irresponsible fantasies feel to START with. What happens if you start to have affection for a doll without loyalties or the capacity to love back… is that healthy… is it frustrating? The point is, superficially it feels like cheesecake but if followed up correctly this might simply be an amuse bouche to more interested character developments.

    Shows like Mad Men, Hung, Dollhouse, etc. can all be accused of early misogynistic fantasy / cheesecake elements, but it doesn’t stop them from becoming compelling. I’m not saying Lobdell is Mad Men quality, but neither do I think this issue precludes him from attempting to reach it just because there is some controversial sex in the book.

  8. So am I the only one who actually LIKES this issue? This was my favorite comic in the entire new 52. Considering Jason is finally getting some time in the sun after the awesome movie, I’m really he’s also moving away from being so Batman obssesed. And how does having sex with two guys make a whore? She’s an alien; Tammaranians probably don’t have the same sexual inhibitions that humans do and don’t mind having sex with multiple people. Maybe she just wanted to get her jollies idk. Overall I actually really liked the issue and am looking forward to seeing more of this work.
    Also, yeah, the 38 joke was terrible.

    • Hi Robert, welcome to the site and your first comment. If you haven’t heard by now, as with everything we review, your mileage may vary. In this case, you like the comic a heck of a lot more than the reviewer. You are certainly the target DC wants for this book, and hopefully you will continue to enjoy the book for issues to come.

    • Overall I actually really liked the issue and am looking forward to seeing more of this work.

      And right there, you’ve nailed why reviewing is all subjective. You can’t take my perspective as anything more than a guidepost, and mileage (on everything) varies.

        • You mean I can’t take everything you write as holy scripture… Aw, nuts! :p

          You can, certainly, but you better be ready for the part where I say, “I am large, I contain multitides… Do I contradict myself? Well, I have to go, as my grandmother is on fire.”

      • Even though a review is subjective it can definitely have an impact on readers. There is really only one place here for us to buy comics, and depending on sales determines whether corporate sends the next issues to us or not. @Robert, as a new reader myself I gathered as much as you did. I saw an alien who may not have the same sexual inhibitions as humans or is possibly a sociopath. Learning from friends I discovered she was in Teen Titans and I can see where a lot of the anger and hostility has come from regarding this comic. I have enjoyed Matthew’s reviews and I believe that a review should not hand out 5star reviews lightly. Even though I feel he lowballs some reviews he includes the points that he needs to help me determine whether or not I want to check out an issue.

        • Even though I feel he lowballs some reviews he includes the points that he needs to help me determine whether or not I want to check out an issue.

          Well, the thing is, I’ve got this theory… If a comic is good, not compelling, not awesome, just good, an average issue of JLA or Avengers or Savage Dragon? That comic is a 2.5 star affair, running about average. A 5 star book is a rare affair, indeed. A 1 star book is even more rare than that. I don’t necessarily lowball my reviews, but I also don’t think of the 1 to 5 scale as equivalent to the A-B-C-D-F grading system in use in American schools. Mileage, after all, varies, and I’ve gotten used to being told that my star ratings are all wrong as I approach my sixth year of Major Spoilers reviewing. ;)

          Heck, having people disagree with my rating and start a thoughtful conversation (that is to say, a TWO-SIDED mutual interaction, not merely a series of shouting matches, or one person vetoing anything outside his or her view of a character) is fun in it’s own right.

          • I definitely feel differently now that I know where your middle ground is as well. (I forgot to take into consideration that MS uses .5 ratings, or a 10 point system and not a 5 or 6 point scale. Well, there’s more to it than that, but that may stray off topic.) Thanks for the feedback; It helped me understand better where you stand in your ratings. My middle ground is 3 which is where my observation came in. When I look back on it my middle ground is there because when my friends and I were rating the..entity…we needed a generalized system because our 10 point scale was never close. And like you stated earlier, reviews are subjective. Anyway, who wants to read a review with no flavor.

  9. To answer the Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day of “With the revelations that Arsenal/Speedy’s “old gang” (implicitly the New Teen Titans) existed in this reality, I start to wonder who, exactly, the characters who DC hinted don’t exist any more actually ARE?”

    I think it is less about the entire character not existing and more about the version of the character that we know existing. Batman and Green Lantern are pretty much the same character and it appears that most of their history applies (even Superman is very familiar albeit in a different costume).

    Supergirl, Superboy, and others are effectively completely different characters whose previous histories are no longer valid. The Supergirl who crashed in Gotham Harbor and was trained by Batman, Superman, and the Amazons ceased to exist the moment the new book became canon. The Superboy who rose from the ashes of the “Death Of Superman” series after his creation by Cadmus and moved to Hawaii before becoming a founding member of Young Justice was wiped out and replaced by a new clone created by “NOWHERE.”

    So the question becomes, “How many of the characters we see today acan be considered the “same character” that they use to be and how many are “new creations.” Is Jaime Reyes still the same Jaime Reyes? He still has the scarab, but it looks like his origin in the days surrounding “Infinite Crisis” has been wiped out. Does that make him a “new character” in the same way that 616-Peter Parker and Ultimate Peter Parker were different characters?

    • Your last paragraph echos the same questions many of us have. From the sages at DC we receive the cryptic words…”HONOR THE KARNEA!”….no, wait, that was “300”….”Have patience readers! ALL WILL BE REVEALED…sometime or another.

  10. I remember seeing a GiF, or whatever it’s called, of that scene from Rise of Arsenal of Roy holding the dead cat, saying “Lian Harper Died For This?!”.

    Now people can point to this comic instead.

  11. Balian_Ironguard on

    So after letting the comic simmer for a bit, I’m able to quantify what difficulties I’m having with this book. All of the issues for me go back to the writing. Drop all the text in this book and treat it like a Nuff Said. I can follow the story, and except for a couple of points, it plays exactly like what the writer put down.

    My question for the faithful spoilerites who know more about this than me: Kenneth Rocafort has me there for issue 2. Does Scott Lobdell have a track record that can get me to issue 3?

    • The point that DC should cater to imaginary girls that wander into a comic store one week of their life, buy a comic that sold out, is shocked and dismayed that RH & tO is not like a cartoon, and then never buys any comics again…thusly costing DC….nothing because she never bought any before?

      This issue was good, I enjoyed it. Kori being off is clearly a plot point, perhaps people should give it more than 22 pages to work out. If theoretical person on the street has cartoon nostalgia and they managed to see Starfire hidden behind Roy and Jason on a book that doesn’t have the word Titans on the cover and sold out but they buy that instead of Tiny Titans or the New Titans title, I fail to see how that is DC’s fault.

      Also in the Shortpacked comment for this comic, the posters are insistent that DC should make the comics more like the cartoons as “those are clearly the definitive versions at this point”.

      Less than 4 years of cartoon Starfire vs 30 years of comics Starfire, just to cater the possibility of “nostalgia walk in traffic”?

      DC needs to write for people that never once gave them a dime instead of those of us that have been with them for year after year, that seems like a lousy policy to implement.

      /rant off

      • Wow, some pretty broad assumptions there. You sound like the reason my ex (who bought more comics than i did at the time) stopped shopping at comics stores, and getting it all online. Watching how other nerd guys treated her was angering. They would condescend to her, mock her choices in books, stare at her, etc. Comics like this were just the icing on the cake in showing what they thought of her.

        To put it another way, your rant is a good part of why comics are failing, and comic shops are too.

        • I think his rant has merit though. Yes, the cartoon version has more viewers than the comic book version, but they’re frequently two different audiences. For that random little girl who goes to pick up her new comic which probably shouldn’t be sold to someone that young anyhow, yes, she probably won’t like the interpretation of the character. BUT, that’s not the demographic who reads comics, not anymore. There’s also nothing that really compares between a person with knowledge of comics and comic history commenting on a comic book on a comic reviewing site and some schmuck at a comic store who makes people feel stupid for liking what they like.

          Also, I liked the cartoon version, but it is just one version, one variation on characters that have existed for many years longer than that show was on. The comic strip that was listed above kind of defeats it’s own purpose within the final panel. It says right there that the cartoon is seen by millions while the issue may only get 100,000 viewers, and judging from everyone I know who either owns/works at/or spends entirely too much time in comic stores, the overwhelming consensus is that kids aren’t coming in to buy comics.

  12. So i just read through this and I’d like to say, I don’t like it. So I will. But, I am intrigued. Sure the hidden society thing is cliche as all get-out but for some reason this one has me curious. Maybe it’s because I always thought Jason Todd deserved better and that line he has with the dead body shows me that they’re willing to give him some sort of depth other than being the psychotic ex-robin. As for Roy, couldn’t care less.

    Now onto the hot-button issue. Starfire. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about her. The whole sex issue was handled poorly here, that goes without saying, but I think I see some light at the end of the tunnel here. The way she treats sex the same way I’d ask a friend “Hey want a beer?” Reminds me of something. I get a real Asari feel from her (players of Mass Effect will get it). We have to remember that Starfire isn’t human, so who’s to say that sex to her isn’t like grabbing a beer. I get a strong feeling that her promiscuity isn’t going to be used so much for sex appeal, but as a catalyst to add tension between Jason and Roy.

    It could also set up an interesting situation where Roy and Jason are embracing their lack of humanity, while Starfire is gaining some. I don’t know just a possibility.

    I’m going to give this 6 issues. If Starfire is still played up as some sort of dangerous sex fiend and I still don’t care about Roy then I’ll drop it.

  13. Iliked this issue. It was a sexy rock-n-roll ride, and I liked it for that. Plus the art is gorgeous, (but I like some delicious cheesecake, too.) The way they were writing Kori’s character struck me differently, though. Last I read, she had abandoned Earth and all her ties to it. So I read it as her WILLFULLY ignoring her past, playing dumb, and trying her best to be a bad girl with nothing to tie her down. It felt like she was playing a part to hide some buried pain. So while it seems creepy now, just wait til we get the issue where she’s in bed with a photo, softly crying for Dick or something. That would hit pretty hard. I hope that’s the way they’re going with this, and this is just a phase Kori is going through. That right there puts this book on the line of amazing/trash in a way you rarely see.

  14. My comment is unrelated to the non-issue that should be this one take on Starfire (other than some poor writing choices, the actions don’t particularly bother me), also as someone above mentioned that if you were to look at the comic without the words, it flows rather well and seems like a well laid out story, it’s the words that fall flat. My one real question is that they reference her time spent on the Teen Titans, but at the end of the issue, the guy is in Chicago and on his computer and sees the picture the kids uploaded to the internet earlier in the issue and he says, “A Tamaranean. On Earth. At Last.” Wouldn’t he have seen her as part of the Teen Titans in years past? How could a woman of that caliber ;), have passed by his attention if he’s looking for any signs of Tamaraneans?

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