RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #26 Review by Justin Lee

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SYNOPSIS: Jason Todd’s about to take this vigilante game to a whole new level. His partners, Bizarro and Artemis? Gone! His mentor, Batman? Out! His base of operations, Gotham City? Abandoned. Cast out and alone, Red Hood embarks on a bold, brutal new mission, with a new costume, new weapons and a new plan to punish evildoers across the DCU. Plus, Pete Woods (JUSTICE LEAGUE) joins writer Scott Lobdell as this new era begins!

After all this time we are finally getting Jason Todd unchained. In almost every other appearance of the character, he has been in some sort of confrontation with Bruce. If he hasn’t, it’s been right under the surface. While the most recent confrontation between Jason and Batman definitely plays a part in this new story arc, it doesn’t define it. That is some great new ground in and of itself.

Scott Lobdell has done a lot of great work with this character. While he has had some misses, usually he hits the mark. This is another one of those hits. The story in this issue is pretty flimsy. It’s any Death Wish-esque, pulp story you have ever seen. A traveling vigilante violently cleaning up the streets of crime while working through some personal issues? Not breaking new ground really. Does it have to? Not necessarily. The real highlight of this entire series has been the character work. That is something I can always count on from Lobdell and he doesn’t disappoint this time around.

Jason really utilizes everything he has been taught by Batman to tactfully take down the associates of “The Underlife.” There is even a kinda-sorta nod to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight that highlights Jason’s skill as a tactician. What makes this issue really standout as a character piece is the things that Scott does to not make Jason like Batman. For example: Jason meets a Federal Agent who extends an offer to help Jason in his fight with The Underlife, almost coming off as a setup for a Jim Gordon-like character. What does Jason do? He declines. Was it just to be edge-y or did he realize that he would be going down a similar road as Bruce? I lean more towards the latter.

The violence is very visceral and raw throughout this issue. Especially a brawl with a biker gang. Who knew a flare could be so intimidating. The new artist on the book, Pete Woods, really knocked it out of the park with the action. Heck, he knocked it out of the park with everything! When the news came out that we were losing Dexter Soy, I was really nervous. Sometimes it feels so nice to be wrong. Pete, welcome to the team and I cannot wait to see more of your work!

All in all, this was a pretty great issue. I really feel like this is the right direction for Jason. We’ve seen him as a scorned ex-Robin out for vengeance and as a very sympathetic anti-hero trying to make up for past deeds. It’s nice to see Jason really getting comfortable being the Red Hood. If you are looking for a great pulpy story, I think this is your book. – Justin Lee

GRADE: A