Jason’s undercover, Artemis is under stress and Bizarro?  He’s finding that life as a super-genius is all it is cracked up to be…  Your Major Spoilers review of Red Hood And The Outlaws #21 awaits!

Red Hood and the Outlaws #21 CoverRED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #21

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Editor: Rob Levin
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 11, 2018

Previously in Red Hood And The Outlaws: “Looking to make his mark on Gotham City’s crowded underworld, Red Hood infiltrates the Iceberg Lounge in an attempt to further annoy the Penguin.  But it might be the Penguin who gets the drop on Red Hood this time.  Plus, the truth about Bizarro’s condition finally comes out-and the consequences could be catastrophic for Artemis!”

FLOWERS FOR BIZARRO

This issue opens with Jason Todd undercover, stealing as much as he can from The Penguin’s casino (through means that may or may not be above-board) while Artemis and Bizarro have a heart-to-heart talk far above the city.  Turns out, his current status as super-genius (thanks to a shot of Mega-Kryptonite courtesy of Lex Luthor) isn’t staying, forcing him to steal synthetic K and keep using it to maintain his mind and sense of self.  Artemis understands his situation, but convinces him that addiction isn’t the answer, and also keeps him from trying to kiss her.  Jason gets discovered by The Penguin, and all seems lost until it becomes clear that being the adopted son of The Batman gives you +5 to planning, and he makes his escape.  As the issue ends, Jason meets with Alfred to discuss whether he’s gone too far in his war for revenge, Bizarro destroys the Kryptonite only to reveal that he has a secret hidden stash and Artemis?

Artemis has an appointment with Lex Luthor…

A SERIOUSLY INTERESTING TRIO

It’s been quite a while since I checked in with The Outlaws, but this issue does a great job of making me regret that, making all three of the characters into three-dimensional, interesting characters.  The use of Artemis as a shadow Wonder Woman character is fascinating, and it’s fun to see a Bat-family character who is also kind of an amoral jerk.  But the real star of this issue is Bizarro, whose super-intellect doesn’t make him into a different character.  He’s still the same backwards screwup, but somehow we still root for him and feel terrible when he makes the wrong decision.  (It’s also hard not to feel embarrassment when he gets shut down putting the moves on Artemis.)  Dexter Soy’s art is interesting in its angular-ness (angularity?), and a scene of Bizarro running with cheetahs is flat-out beautiful, but there are a few panels/pages where the layouts feel a little bit unclear, which makes for some bits that I had to reread in order to understand the visuals…

BOTTOM LINE: I LOVE ARTEMIS

The real test of a book that collects an offbeat team (like the original New Warriors or the New Teen Titans back in the 80s) is making us care about the likes of Firestar or Raven as much as we would about Superman or Lois Lane.  Red Hood and the Outlaws #21 pulls that off with aplomb, making me care about every one of these characters in the space of a few pages, and even turning Bizarro (is this the same one who was in Superman last week or a different one?) into a tragic hero, with better-than-average art earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  Based on this issue, I may have to start picking this book up regularly…

[taq_review]

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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.

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