Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
“I Fought the Law and Kicked Its Butt!”
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist/Cover artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
I originally wasn’t looking forward to this comic book at all, but after reading another Scott Lobdell-penned New 52 title last week, I thought there might be a chance he’d do something worthwhile and unusual with these anti-hero characters as he did in Superboy. It turns out my first instinct was right. Lobdell delivers a low-brow, insulting and misogynist plot and script that continue to sink to lower and lower levels from page to page. There’s no logical reason provided for these characters to be connected to one another, and if that weren’t bad enough, Lobdell comes up with a new element for Red Hood’s history that isn’t at all in keeping with the tone, attitude and goals of the character. The art has its strong moments, but it’s marred by a gratuitous focus on the physical attributes of Starfire and a couple of confusing sequences later in the issue. Honestly, I have no idea why DC opted to make this comic book save for the fact it had to fill one of its 52 slots for its relaunch initiative. This comic ought to come polybagged with body wash and a loufa.
The Red Hood, AKA Jason Todd, breaks an occasional ally — former teen-hero sidekick and archer Roy Harper — out of a Middle Eastern prison, assisted by Todd’s latest squeeze, the exotic alien warrior known as Starfire. The three leave the grime and violence of the region behind and retreats to a tropical paradise, where they indulge baser appetites in various ways. Unbeknownst to Harper and Starfire, though, Todd becomes preoccupied with an unseen figure from his past who has a message about a friend’s plight half a world away.
Kenneth Rocafort’s clearly an artist in which DC has great faith, as he’s landed a New 52 assignment in the wake of his work on “Reign of the Doomsdays,” the last storyline to unfold in the Superman titles before the relaunch. His work throughout much of this issue is pretty strong. His art appears to show the influence of such artists as Bill Sienkiewicz, Travis Charest and even Brett Booth (especially when it comes to Starfire’s elongated frame). The opening prison-escape sequence unfolds clearly even with the unconventional panel layouts across a couple of double-page spreads. Mind you, I first looked at those spreads online in a preview feature, and it was almost impossible to read in that digital format. That makes me wonder if it’ll be as effective as a download purchase than the printed product that I ultimately ended up reading.
Despite some of the strengths in Rocafort’s work, there are also a number of confusing and disappointing visuals to be found as well. The least realistically portrayed of the three main protagonists, of course, is Starfire, whose figure contorts to offer the most impossible yet titillating views. Furthermore, the divination sequence involving a new character named Essence is broken up, unclear and difficult to discern, and aside from an easily overlooked caption, there’s not a clear transition from the second-to-last scene to the final three pages. Also irksome is the new design for the Red Hood. The new element: a bat symbol. Emblazoning that symbol on his chest makes no sense in the context of the character. The reason it’s there is clear: marketing. DC wants something visual to connect the title character with the Batman, so logic in the storytelling be damned.
Included among the many sins Lobdell (not to mention his editors) commits with this comic book are a couple of instances of glaringly bad grammar (a statement that now requires me to proofread this particular review repeatedly before publishing it). “The Citadel were a militant race,” for example. More distracting and annoying is the jumble of old continuity that just doesn’t jibe with the status of the New 52 DC Universe. How can Roy have been a teen sidekick to a hero who appears to be the same age as he is? Why is a stranger pleased to discover finally a Tamaranian on Earth when it’s clear Starfire’s history with the Titans is still in place and therefore her presence on the planet would be of public record? How can Jason Todd’s history as Robin and his subsequent resurrection be intact and still make room for time among the members of a secret society of warriors in the Himalayas? How can Lobdell include a retcon in the middle of a relaunch/reboot? If the writer wanted to alter the Red Hood’s history with the new 52 relaunch, I take no issue with that, but he seems to try to maintain him as he was and reconstruct his entire back story at the same time.
You know those creepy, inanimate but realistic-looking sex dolls you’ve (hopefully) seen only in documentaries on TV? Well, Starfire is little more than a super-powered version of those of those sex toys, aside from the inanimate bit. She’s willing to sleep with anyone at any time. Emotion has nothing to do with sex for her. She has no memory of past partners (essentially making her a virgin each time, perhaps?). She has no attachments, no qualms and no hangups. She blindly follows the whims of whatever man she’s with, and she pays no heed to crude double entendres. She’s a fantasy… at least, the fantasy of men who see women as objects, as playthings put on Earth (in this case, literally) for their amusement. And I was aghast when I saw the editor responsible for directing the course and craft of this publication is a woman. The chauvinism and misogyny in which this script is immersed are shocking and absolutely shameful. 2/10
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