Written by Mark Henely
One of the great things about reading Red Hood and the Outlaws issue by issue is that each issue is satisfying by itself. While the over-arching story certainly makes the experience deeper and more engaging, each issue gives the reader its money’s worth. While this issue is transition issue that is setting up a final part (that will presumably be the next issue). there are a few pieces of this story that make it worth reading alone.
First, there is a massive brawl where Red Hood (and later Artemis) take on Bizarro. In a world where Batman V. Superman is a hit, there has to be some appeal for readers to see their lesser counterparts (and I mean that affectionately) fight it out. The action scene is really nailed by artist Dexter Soy who renders the fight in dynamic fashion. Soy makes Red Hood looks incredibly badass and, while it might sound shallow, readers love when the lead character looks like a goddamn badass.
Second, writer Scott Lobdell, does a great job telling the story of why Red Hood doesn’t just kill the villain, Black Mask. The story of why a particular superhero doesn’t kill isn’t exactly new territory, but Lobdel does it in a subtle way that really accentuates what makes Red Hood a unique member of the Batman family. He does so by leaving breadcrumbs throughout the story when Red Hood asks himself the question repeatedly and is then told explicitly by Black Mask mid fight.
Red Hood resists the urge to kill because Batman doesn’t kill and there is still some part of Jason Todd that wants to be like Batman. Todd knows that he is not as good as Bruce Wayne/Batman on any level. Todd’s willingness to carry a gun and entertain the option of killing someone at all is a indication that he knows that he isn’t as good as Batman and doesn’t have to hold to Batman’s moral standards. But, Todd wants to be as good as Batman and so he is trying to avoid killing if at all possible. It will be interesting to see if the next issue ends with Red Hood pulling the trigger (literally and metaphorically) and how that will affect the character moving forward.
If Todd doesn’t shoot Black Mask, then we might be seeing the birth of a true hero.
If Todd kills Black Mask, than he is essentially turning his back on the teachings of Batman and is sure to head down a dark path.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10