This is the moment you’ve been waiting for – Red Hood v Red Hair: Dawn of the Outlaws. OK, maybe that’s not what you’ve been waiting for, but either way, your Major Spoilers review of Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 is about to begin!
Previously in Red Hood and the Outlaws: Sometimes the best way to tackle the dark underbelly of the criminal world is from the inside. Red Hood has infiltrated Black Mask’s gang and was sent on a mission to retrieve a “game-changer” for the mob boss. Unfortunately for Red Hood, Black Mask isn’t the only one with eyes on the prize.
ROUND ONE: FIGHT! (THEN TEAM UP)
After debuting at the end of issue #1, Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 begins with writer Scott Lobdell giving us a brief look into the back-story of Artemis. The three-page flashback effectively establishes who the character is and what her motivations are, without taking too much page time away from the main meat of the book. Once this prerequisite is out of the way, Lobdell dials up the action with the old superhero cliché of “let’s you and I fight and them team up against a common enemy” as Artemis engages in battle with Jason Todd, AKA Red Hood. Despite this being a common comic book trope, I generally enjoy these types of team set-ups and this time was no different. It was a good fusion of fast-paced fighting sprinkled with wisps of witty banter. All of the dialogue throughout the issue, for that matter, is very well scripted.
The whole reason for the initial animosity, of course, is Red Hood and Artemis’ mutual interest in the contents of a train car. All Red Hood knows is that Black Mask wants what’s inside. Artemis, on the other hand, believes the MacGuffin is the Bow of Ra, which we were introduced to in the beginning of the issue. However, we learn soon after that this was merely a red herring thrown in by Lobdell.
There are a couple of passing references in this issue to Jason Todd’s time under the mantle of Robin, sidekick to the Caped Crusader. This is to be expected in any title featuring a former “Boy Wonder” and much like the flashback in the beginning of the issue, they serve their purpose without detracting from the narrative. I appreciate Lobdell including them to show how Batman has shaped the character into what we see now, but not taking away from the fact that Red Hood is his own man.
Soon enough, Artemis wises up to Red Hood’s role as a double-agent. This leads to the concluding pages of the issue, where the duo learns the true contents of the train car. If you’ve seen the cover of issue #1 or even the Rebirth one-shot, I’m sure you can guess what, or rather who it is, but I won’t spoil it here.
RED DEAD OUTLAWS
Pencils and inks in Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 are from the steady hands of Dexter Soy, while colors come to us courtesy of Veronica Gandini. Soy hasn’t waded too far into primary DC titles in the past, so it’s great to see him flex his muscles here. His delicate line work is complimented by meticulous attention to detail, such as the wrinkles in Red Hood’s coat, or chunks of sod being flung from the ground during fight sequences. The double-page spread where we see Artemis spinning her axe to deflect Red Hood’s bullets is by far the highlight of the issue for me. The blurred lines of the axe implying rapid motion are something Soy uses in several other panels, and are a great stylistic choice.
The pages all flow nicely and I have no complaints about the panel layouts themselves. However, I found the choice to take a minimalist approach and not include a background in the panel where Artemis is holding Red Hood by his collar to be questionable. While it’s aesthetically pleasing and adds great contrast, it didn’t feel like it matched the tone and context of the panel from a sequential art standpoint, at least in my opinion. In any case, it doesn’t take away from the fact that everything in the issue is well-balanced, carefully crafted and beautifully rendered.
For the colors, Gandini utilizes a palette consisting of a variety of pale earth-tones in the background imagery. Juxtaposing these serene tones with deep reds, plus the vibrant yellows and oranges of gun fire, make for a bold blend of contrast and color harmony. Gandini creates an atmosphere that is both tranquil and intense, which definitely captures the tone of the story.
BOTTOM LINE: GLAD I RED IT
If you want an action-packed story with a strong developing team dynamic, then I highly recommend picking up Red Hood and the Outlaws #2. It meets just about all of your standard superhero team-up book expectations, but still manages to stand out from the crowd with great scripting and stellar art.