Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Comic Book: Red Hood and the Outlaws

By: Jerry Montgomery
January 15, 2017

Red Hood and the Outlaws #6
“Dark Trinity Pt. 6: Darker Days”

Written by: Scott Lobdell
Artwork by: Dexter Soy

“A former Robin risen from the grave. A would be Wonder Woman fallen from grace. A fractured replica of the Man of Steel. Together, they are Red Hood and the Outlaws! That’s the opening blurb on the title page. Jason Todd, Artemis and Bizarro make up the team. Each is a misfit in their own right but together, they make an interesting an endearing and likeable team, from Artemis’ funny put downs of Jason to Bizarro’s toddler-like speech and innocence.

If you haven’t been following this title or familiar with it’s  goings on, Jason Todd, the 2nd Robin after Dick Grayson has returned from the dead via one of Ras al Ghul’s Lazarus pits. Jason, as Robin was brash, violent and argumentive with Batman’s methods. This made him unpopular with readers and led to the 1-800, “Should we kill off Robin” or 1-800, “Should we not”. As you can guess, the yeas won. Now that he’s back, he has taken on the mantle of Red Hood, interestingly enough, one of the Joker’s  alias’ before he went overboard into those chemicals.

In the “Dark Trinity” story arc,  5 issues have already come and gone, leading up to the 6th and last chapter as the story picks up with the villain Black Mask pointing a gun in the face of Jason/Red Hood. The charade is over. Black Mask knows that he’s not who he presented himself as. A ruthless killer…a criminal. So, how did the tale reach this point? Well alot has happened since pt.1. I guess the short version is that Black Mask had obtained a nano-toxin, which, when administered to the victim, could be mentally controlled by said villain. In a public battle with Batman and the apparent murder of the Mayor of Gotham, Jason Todd/Red Hood is a criminal. With a stipulation to no killing,  Batman permits Jason to infiltrate Black Mask’s criminal empire. Something he could not do. Perhaps Gotham needs an outlaw.

As the story progressed, Jason encountered Artemis, the one time Wonder Woman of the offshoot Egyptian Amazons when he tried to steal a weapon for Black Mask. That weapon turned out to be not a thing, but a who. Bizarro, the fractured clone of Superman, whom Black Mask hoped to infect with his nano-toxin and then “clean up” Gotham of its undesirables by controlling him, taking the nano-toxin himself. Both Black Mask and Bizarro take the toxin and chaos ensues! While Artemis battles the enraged puppet of Black Mask, Jason must take on Black Mask himself. Part 6 deals with these conflicts and the strategies put into motion to defeat him and to save Gotham City.  Jason, in the end must struggle with his urges to kill or uphold his promise to Batman. Is there a middle road?

The Verdict: I enjoyed the issue as well as the lead up issues to this story arc. You’ll be lost if you jump on at issue 6, so it would be beneficial to pick up the prior issues. Those unfamiliar with the journey of Jason Todd from death to resurrection will be pleased to know that all is explained through flashback at the appropriate times, though the resurrection part is a little murky. I like the idea of the Red Hood character though I’m not so thrilled about who lies under the mask. I am aware that death in the comics is not absolute but some characters lives have been shaped by others’ deaths. An integral part of the Batman mythos has been the death of Jason Todd as has Captain America’s has been by Bucky Barnes. In many ways, Batman was affected by his young charges death and that never went away, perhaps that’s why in the Rebirth issues,  the Tim Drake Robin has apparently been killed (in Night of the Monster Men storyline). Regardless, it’s a good issue and an interesting cast of characters  that have been brought together.

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