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4.0 out of 5 stars Jason Todd's New Outlook on Life...and it's Just as Crazy as Before!, November 13, 2012
This review is from: Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1: REDemption (The New 52) (Paperback)
When it came to all of the Bat-family titles in the New 52, I had no intention of looking into them because there were so many, aside from only Scott Snyder's Batman. But I heard that Nightwing had some ties to the Court of Owls story, so I picked up that trade for that reason--and I liked it. Red Hood on the other hand? Well I enjoyed Jason Todd pre-52, but again, I didn't want to delve too much on all the Bat-titles. But I heard a lot of bad things or great things about Red Hood and the Outlaws. So what the heck, I figured I give this a try. And I have to say: this is really fun book.

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS VOL.1: REDEMPTION collects issues #1-7. Starting with issue 6 (odd that this takes place before issue 1 and is collected here first...) see's Jason Todd, AKA Red Hood, finding himself hurt from a previous adventure. He's healed back to life thanks to Princess Koriand'r, AKA Starfire, and see's her as a compliance for his usage. Jason sets out and recruit Roy Harper, AKA Arsenal, to further his agenda. When an old friend comes to Jason to inform him an ancient enemy named the Untitled, has broken a truce since the dawn of humans with his previous mentor Ducra of the organization known as the All-Caste. Jason is the last member of All-Caste, and see's into avenging Ducra and what she stood for.

Before I go into some of the fun stuff, let me straighten some things out.

First is this: I know of Scott Lobdell's work on Marvel for majority of the 90's, but I never actually read any of his work before until now. I can't go too much into his work, since I don't follow it like others have, but I've heard many negatives for his work on all three DC 52 titles Superboy, Teen Titans, and Red Hood. For Red Hood, it had a lot to do with the new characterization of Starfire. Here is my second insight: I've barely read anything regarding Starfire or the Teen Titans, so I'm not one to judge her. And third: Because the Batman and Green Lantern titles received minor changes of continuity going into the New 52, Red Hood being a Batman title carries on most of those aspects in-tact. Jason was resurrected, Talia trained him, and his vendetta with Joker and Batman still stands.

Okay, now that's cleared up, let's get to it. I found this quite a fun and weaving tale. The characters have a lot of underlining conversations with so much wit; it makes the characters feel complex and relatable.

Lobdell makes the cleaver volume title live up to its name, that being of redemption. Lobdell uses past continuity for Jason still being an anti-hero (or anti-villain) pre-52, in that he still kills when need be and only bad people, has a complex way of the situation...but now adds the story element of training under the All-Caste in continuity, which doesn't disrupt his rich background and further adds to Jason's rich background for future stories. Even further, it's all done in a manner that new readers can identify with and not need prior knowledge of Red Hood. Pretty impressive. And because of the new training organization Jason went through, he's become more complex and less...evil, though that's pushing it. More like less angry with life and how to treat others. I like this new direction for Jason Todd and it makes his resurrection more acceptable with each passing of time.

Starfire and Roy are two characters who get some New 52 changes, both still falling in-line with the theme of redemption. Roy is now a disgraced ex-partner of Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) instead of being an adopted son. Other then that, he's still a wise cracking character, who deep down has a heart of gold. And Starfire, which, again, I lack any real background on, is an alien princess who was raised a slave, and has a seeded hatred for mankind. She has royalty complex about her as well, but finds humans interesting in that they could do good things as well. Add all three character complexes, and you get a pretty darn good story of three outcasts finding more about them together, then they would of apart.

As for art, I have never heard of Kenneth Rocafort until now, but I can tell you this is one artist that is going to be huge sometime down the road in comics. He draws so much detail with his pencils, it's like a cross between Jim Lee and the late Aspin-artist Michael Turner. Absurd amount of detail, rich and crazy panels, splash pages of action, and some sexy (and absurd) depictions of women. This is one artist I want to see more of and it wouldn't surprise me if he becomes a big name in a few years.

As for faults, I have very few. But I can't deny some of the outcry from fans. Again, I can't speak out for Lobdell as a writer (since I haven't read his past work). But one of which, is the depiction of Starfire. She is drawn and portrayed very stereotypical with a level of sexism that could have been toned down, just a tad. I know Lobdell has her background that she is sexually free, but some of the undertones are a little too far. She sleeps with Jason and Roy, but that's not it. Lobdell actually puts the words "Will you have sex with me?" in a comic. I'm a grown adult, so it doesn't bother me. It just isn't something that needs to be said in most non-mature comics. And the following scene afterword literally shows both characters after the sex scene. It could have been said and shown differently for both cases, that's all. And because of Starfire's over zealous nature, I can see why some people were/are up in arms over her portrayal.

But note, her sexual nature (as well as Jason's and Roy's early character depictions) are all toned down later in the book, as well as later issues to come.

Aside from the feedback regarding Lobdell's reputation and Starfire's depiction, I found RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS VOL.1: REDEMPTION to be a pretty darn good series that I'm willing to follow. If you can get past Starfire's depiction, then you'll enjoy the action, great character interaction, and phenomenal artwork for a new outlook on Jason Todd; a character I'm sort of glad came back to life.
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Initial post: Nov 13, 2012 11:21:30 PM PST
Thank you for the review. It's great to see there is a comic to give more view to Red Hood. Batman is a great superhero (the greatest in my opinion), although Red Hood is like an extension of Batman. He's about the things that are almost forbidden to Batman (Guns, Murder, and emotions). I'm liking the concept and plan to get this book.
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