REVIEW: Red Hood and the Outlaws #19

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A former drug addict, an alien princess and a previously dead Robin walk into a bar … . While that almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, it’s my hope instead that these new creators will take readers where this comic has not gone before!

RED_HOOD_AND_THE_OUTLAWS_19RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #19
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Julius Gopez
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Red Hood and the Outlaws Jason Todd, the Red Hood, is still recovering from the recent “Death of the Family” storyline in which the Joker drove a wedge between the Dark Knight and his various teammates. Jason has gone AWOL from his the rest of his group, which consists of Roy Harper, a self-proclaimed “recovering super hero,” and Koriand’r, a slave princess from another world. Where has Jason gone, and why?

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR

Jason, Batman’s second Robin, has taken a private Wayne Enterprises jet to the Himalayas. Roy and Kori track the plane to those mountains, but find it crashed into the snow. When they endeavor to follow Jason, Roy gets seriously ill and hallucinates about his past failures. He awakes to find his fever has broken.

Kori flies the pair into the mysterious Acres of All and encounter S’Aru, a mystic boy who has the ability to pluck memories from someone’s mind “as easy as pie.” They also find Jason, who no longer remembers them … or anything about himself at all.

One of the most fascinating sequences in this issue takes place between Jason and S’Aru, when we find out just what Jason’s after. “Every time I take a step forward in putting my past behind me, something new and more horrible happens to knock me back,” he said. “Not only did the Joker almost take my face, but he tells me he might have manipulated my entire life from the beginning. Even the good is tainted by him now.”

Jason can’t live with that level of doubt, he tells S’Aru, who we last saw back in issue #3. He asks that everything that darkness touches be removed. When the mystic does as asked, it turns out to be a lot more than Jason originally expected!

WHO ARE THESE CHARACTERS AGAIN?

I’ve never been much of a fan of Jason Todd. When he first appeared, he was stealing the wheels off the Batmobile (and making Batman laugh). I didn’t care for him. He also was a wild card when Batman tried to train him, always making the wrong choices. When DC conducted its famous poll to decide if the Joker would kill him or not, I didn’t participate. Why? Because I just didn’t care enough to vote, honestly.

Then, too, Roy’s character has gone from Speedy to Red Arrow to Arsenal and back, and I haven’t warmed up to him all that much during all this time. I know it’s not a big deal, but him wearing a baseball cap has been one of the things that’s visually turned me off about him … that and his relationship with Kori, who previously had been Dick Grayson’s main squeeze in Teen Titans.

In this merry band of misfits, Kori’s the one I’m drawn to most. Never mind her alluring physical attributes .. she can be a free spirit because she has the power to back up her actions. I just wonder how that costume actually sticks to her most salient pieces/parts!

THE NEW CREATIVE TEAM STEPS UP TO THE PLATE AND HITS A HOME RUN

James Tynion IV was a student of Scott Snyder’s not that long ago. Now he’s working with Mr. Snyder on the Batman comic back-up stories and has begun spreading his wings by taking on other books in DC’s New 52. Previously he’d launched Talon with Snyder, but now Tynion is taking over this book, which remains close to the Bat-family but gives the up-and-coming scripter a chance to deal with more teen heroes, a segment of the DC stables he particularly enjoys.

Tynion’s grasp of the trio is strong, and he easily and smoothly picks up their divergent voices and motivations. And he takes Jason someplace I never expected him to go … into a future that has removed his checkered past. Can he live without a past? We’ll find out in the months ahead!

Gopez’s art and Ruffino’s colors give the book a painted feel to it. Whether they’re creating snowscapes, nightmares or big scary monsters in a paradise-like setting, the pair transports the readers into an adventure that feels like we’ve been pulled into the book and left “our” reality behind. Very well done!

BOTTOM LINE: THIS ISSUE KICKS OFF A FASCINATING NEW DIRECTION FOR THE BOOK

The events of this issue greatly intrigue me. What’s next for this crazy trio? Will Jason really lose his past forever? Will Roy be the one who pays the price for these escapades? Will Kori continue to find their friendships enough to keep her on Earth? I have to know!

Red Hood and the Outlaws has been a good comic since it debuted, but I’m hoping Tynion, Gopez and all will kick it up to a higher level for me and other fans!

I had the good fortune of interviewing Mr. Tynion about this new assignment during a recent Wayne’s Comics podcast. You can listen to that discussion at this link!

Red Hood and the Outlaws  #19 gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★★★

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