There’s an old saying that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all. With that in mind, I have nothing to say about Red Hood & The Outlaws #1.
Don’t look at me like that!
Oh, okay! Fine! I guess I do owe it to my readers to go into a little more detail than that.
After rescuing Roy “No Codename Given” Harper from a Quraci prison, Jason “Red Hood” Todd journeys to an island paradise with Roy in tow. As Roy enjoys the ample feminine charms of Jason’s other partner – the alien Starfire – Jason meets with a mysterious woman named Essence. Informed that some secret society he was once affiliated with called The All Caste has been destroyed by some other secret society called The Untitled, Jason leaves, alone, to go investigate.
Lobdell’s script is full of action but not much else. Nothing receives much, if any, development. The All Caste and The Untitled aren’t defined as anything other than “good group” and “bad group”. Jason Todd has no apparent motivation for helping Essence other than a vague obligation to her and he lacks any true motivation to help Roy at the start of the comic. We’re told that Roy became a soldier of fortune on Jason’s suggestion but nothing is said to explain why he’s following Jason’s lead to begin with or his current standing with Green Arrow. And Kori has no reason for hanging around with Jason and helping him with whatever he’s doing apart from having nothing better to do. She even says as much in the one page where we get to see things from her perspective!
Speaking of perspective, let’s talk about the artwork of Kenneth Rocafort for a second. Laura Hudson of Comics Alliance (who said everything about how stupid Starfire’s new personality is so I didn’t have to here.) pointed out how Kori seems to be eternally posing for an unseen photographer. She neglected to mention that the rest of the artwork is as equally posed and unnatural looking as Starfire’s bent spine. Starfire’s breast-size and hair-length also change from panel to panel but that’s just the tip of the artistic iceberg.
We are told on the first page that Roy is being held prisoner by the Quracian people he was fighting to help liberate. Explain then why the people we see escorting him out of his cell appear to be typical, crew-cut American soldiers? I could go into deeper detail about the places where the art and story don’t line up but I don’t want to waste any more time on this book, except to note how odd it is that Jason has a big red Bat-symbol on his chest when he’s supposedly trying to get away from his mentor, according to Lobdell.
Despite all this, I think what they’ve done – and failed to do – with Roy Harper is what annoys me the most about this comic. In the aftermath of Cry For Justice and Rise of Arsenal, which left thousands of Roy Harper fans enraged, DC Comics had a chance to redefine the character and start fresh. Sadly, they seem to have missed the point behind our outrage.
The fans weren’t upset because Roy lost his arm. They weren’t upset because he gave in to his drug addiction. They were upset because James Robinson, J.T. Krul and the editors behind them signed off on destroying one of the most unique characters in comics – a single father superhero trying to raise a daughter – for the sake of creating another mercenary anti-hero struggling to find something to live for. And now here we are. Roy Harper has his arm back. Roy Harper is not an addict anymore. But Roy Harper is still a mercenary anti-hero struggling to find something to live for. But hey – at least he’s getting laid now!