Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
Release Date: 10th August, 2016
Last week, DC and Warner Bros. gave us David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, so depending on who you are it was either a great week or a terrible week to be a DC fan. I personally was not a fan of the film, which is why I was even more eager to dive into this week’s DC comics to find some sort of redemption. Keeping in the theme of anti-heroes, I’ll be talking about this week’s new release: Red Hood and the Outlaws #1.
In this week’s issue, Jason Todd speaks to Roman Sialis – AKA Black Mask – about a potential business offer. This is due to Red Hood’s “assassination attempt” on the Mayor of Gotham, a plot that Jason stills pursues and may even contain a figure from his past.
When I opened up this comic, I was excited to see some hard-edged vigilantism—one of my favorite aspects of Red Hood. He’ll fight for a good cause, but he’ll do some nasty shit to get it. It was something that I thought was missing from Suicide Squad and sadly, it’s missing here too. Scott Lobdell’s script is fine, I even think the Red Hood character is handled fairly well here, but he just so severely lacked an edge. He keeps talking about how he “made a promise to Bruce” that kind of trumps the defiant nature of Red Hood. I don’t think it necessarily ruins the character in this book, but it’s something that stuck out to me the whole time reading.
Another thing that excited me about this book was the fact that Black Mask is the villain, someone who I think is the single most underrated Batman villain of all time. I don’t think they really fucked up his character in this, he’s being used how he should be, but the mask itself was pretty bad to me. I love the classic Black Mask look, it’s badass but it’s not bombastically big like a giant clay monster or a reptile man. It’s a nice suit and a cool mask, simple and badass. The mask that’s used in this book is an attempt at something new—which I respect—but the mask is too bulky looking and the zipper-mouth is comical. He’s missing both the badass mask and the killer suits, so he’s kind of just another villain in this. Nothing special, although the writing itself isn’t that bad, it’s just the character design that kills it.
Luckily, this book makes it fairly easy to get past these flaws. The story isn’t particularly great, but it’s interesting enough for a first issue. I’m still getting settled into the world of the Red Hood and this book does a good enough job at setting it all up, which is something I’m totally fine with in the first or second issue of a story. Lobdell’s writing seems very promising as well, with conversations moving very smoothly. The pacing and interesting dialogue make the book a quick read, which is also a big saving grace. Had the book run on a little longer, maybe the flaws would have hurt it more, but at this brisk pace it works just fine.
The major redeeming factor of the book is the art by Dexter Soy paired with the coloring by Veronica Gandini. The two make this book an absolute spectacle to look at. The dark, moody atmospheric moments are incredible, but even when the color brightens it’s in a way that teams with the shadows and dark backdrop so well. The art in this book is something truly incredible to look at, some of the best in DC’s current run.
At the end of the day, this is a good starting point. The dialogue and story moves along well enough and the art is top notch. It creates a world that I want to get invested in, so I’m willing to wait it out for a few more issues to see where it goes. The character designs of Black Mask and the lack of overall edge hurt it, but certainly not enough to turn me off the book completely. DC is putting out a lot of better books right now, but even for the art alone I’d say that this one is worth a shot.
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The writer of this piece was: Mike Annerino
Mike Tweets from @MikeAnnerino