REVIEW: Red Hood and the Outlaws #0

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Jason Todd narrates the story of his life up to his death, a story most people are familiar with. But what really happened behind the scenes? Meet the man who created Red Hood after the jump!

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #0
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Pasqual Ferry, Ig Guara & Brett Booth
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Colorist: Blond
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Red Hood and the Outlaws: Arsenal recounts previous events to Blackfire regarding the team’s attempts to help Starfire fend off an attack on her home world. Later, after being reunited with her sister, Starfire and Blackfire join forces to fight off the invading empire.

THE JOKER AND THE THIEF

Jason Todd is the primary narrator of the first half of this issue. He starts with the moment his parents met up to the point where he was resurrected in the Lazarus pit. Jason’s voice is what really makes this issue interesting to read. He maintains his sardonic and realistic outlook on everything, even during the bitterest moments of his life. That voice and Scott Lobdell’s usage of dialogue perfectly juxtaposed with what’s going on in the panel itself create a humorous and occasionally sober disconnect with how Todd views his life and what really happened. While it’s easy to see how the character had grown in his views of the world (for example he’s not nearly as bitter towards Batman as he sometimes is in the previous issues of Red Hood), Jason still hasn’t lost touch with his past roots. At heart, he’s still a street kid and that’s never going to go away. He has no illusions about who his parents were, about who he was, or about the nature of his first death. This is damn good writing on Lobdell’s part and he’s really helped the character grow and come into his own in the subtlest of ways.

The Joker narrates the second half and his part in creating Jason as the Red Hood everyone knows and loves today. This part was odd. It felt heavily forced, plot-wise, and a little out of place for Todd’s history overall. Making the Joker the grand architect for all that befell Todd didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the mythos. It would have been an interesting concept if it was better executed but, in this case, it just felt rushed and very contrived. The fact that Joker not only purposely disposed of Jason’s parents but also put Jason on Batman’s radar to become the next Robin had lots of potential. If it were fleshed out, maybe gradually introduced, it would have been an interesting plot twist. Hopefully it’ll come into play later on in this series and be a bit more fleshed out and less hurried.

MIND’S EYE

The art for this whole series has been visually striking. While the colors tend to be sacrificed for a much harsher emphasis on sketch and lining, this tactic works really well for this series and continues to work up until this issue.

However, this time around, the book has a much more colorful aspect to it. The lines aren’t as grainy as before and everything is given a much gentler feel to it, particularly during Jason’s narration. The colors are a little brighter and the characters themselves are drawn a little softer than before, with swooping lines instead of the straight and jagging lining the series usually sports. It makes sense because at least half of this book is from Jason’s childhood memories. The colors, the lining, all of it denote we’re visually seeing something from a child’s eye and a child’s memory. While Jason had it tough from the very beginning, visually he still remembers things in as innocent a manner as one can remember things from their childhood.

Which makes it a striking contrast when we reach the Joker’s portion and we return to the grainy sketches we expect to find in the series. The harsh lining and the sacrificing of color returns, grounding the reader, visually, back in the mind of an adult, the Joker’s memory of how he orchestrated Jason’s life. That soft lining is now gone, the jagged and straight lines have returned and, with the exception of the Joker himself, the colors take a backseat to the rest of the art.

BOTTOM LINE: DID THEY HAVE TO SQUEEZE THE JOKER IN?

I really enjoyed the first part of this book and hearing Jason’s story from Jason’s own words. Most people know Jason Todd’s history so having something viable to go back on is nice especially if one is a Red Hood fan like I am. I was really confused when they decided to squeeze in the Joker’s ‘behind the scenes’ scoop and having his be the orchestrator for who Jason would eventually become. However, the artistic contrast between Jason’s story and the Joker’s really at least deserves a look through.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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