Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell; Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Sep 25, 2011 Web Exclusive
Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 is disappointing. Scott Lobdell employs strong and appropriate first-person narration from two different characters, which is a tricky thing to pull off. Kenneth Rocafort's art is sort of like '90s-style done right; it's very scratchy in parts, uses exaggerated proportions to its advantage, rather than to an annoying extent, and has lots of personality. And we have three strong, pre-existing DC characters as the main players and some pretty interesting brand new ideas. But there's one thing that makes this book just go off the rails.
Jason Todd, The Red Hood, was Batman's second sidekick (he was Robin when Dick Grayson graduated to Nightwing). Roy Harper is Speedy/Red Arrow; in the old continuity he was Green Arrow's sidekick, but who knows what their relationship is in the NuDCU. When Red Hood breaks Red Arrow out of a foreign prison, things are jumping pretty well; when Starfire shows up as the heavy hitter to destroy some tanks, it's pretty edge-of-the-seat comic bookery. Hints to a secret past that Jason lived in his post-Gotham years with a mystical sect of some kind are really cool.
But, man, they had to turn Starfire, already a ridiculously proportioned, overly sexy creature, into a friggin' blow-up doll. Now, I'm late to the party with the proselytizing (see Laura Hudson's appropriately soapboxy screeds [here and here] for some sensible thoughts on the matter), and I'll even admit that there's something interesting in the whole "aliens don't act like humans do" concept that Lobdell drops on this cherished character here. But to have it manifest as one part Dory from Finding Nemo (no memory of relatively recent past) and one part compulsive sex addict is very, very disappointing.
See, dramatic tension is created when characters do not fulfill outward expectations. That was the appeal of fat Amanda Waller, for instance—her appearance belied her ability and competence. Making the smoking hot alien with the 38DD chest into a sexpot is just too damned on the nose. My point? They could have made her weird/odd in a way that had nothing to do with fan fic-inspired juvenilia. She was always my least-favorite Teen Titan in the classic Marv Wolfman/George Perez days, because she was sort of dimwitted and uncomplicated, but I was absolutely enamored of the sweet, earnest, and often unsure version from the recent Teen Titans cartoon. I sure hope fans of that cartoon don't pick this up expecting to see that cherished version. What a shock.
Damn, I really liked this book otherwise. Big budget buddy movie-style action and intrigue had a lot of promise. (www.dccomics.com)
Author rating: 4/10
Average reader rating: 2/10