RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #32, written by Scott Lobdell and penciled by RB Silva and Rafa Sandoval, is excessive and dumb and excessive and dumb and boy do I miss the 80s and 90s.
I was following RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS back when Scott Lobdell was writing it the first time and Kenneth Rocafort was drawing it. After they left I lost interest pretty quickly and only occasionally checked back in. This here is Lobdell’s first issue back (sadly no Rocafort) and he announces it in a big, dumb as possible way. Just look at that cover. It’s got Starfire reclining on a sports car like every bikini model on every car magazine ever. Arsenal is lurking around behind her with his ever present trucker hat and it’s like Lobdell is saying, “Hey! You thought this book was trashy before? Well Daddy’s back and you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Despite Lobdell being back it doesn’t really feel like what he was doing before. Before there was this weird storyline about ancient demons or something that I never really followed. Here, he opens his new run with a love letter to the big dumb action movies of the 80s and early 90s. All the great elements of those are here and amped up. You’ve got nondescript international terrorists with a giant plane trying to drop a nuke on Washington, D.C. (!), good guy infiltrating the bad guys by wearing bad guy armor (!), good guy entering the plane by breaking the window and jumping in mid flight (!), a dude getting thrown out of the plane (!), and a nuke being disposed of by dumping it into nearby water! All of this is presented in several single page splashes and one double page splash. The non-splash pages only have a couple of huge panels on them. It does a great job reinforcing the old school action epic that Lobdell is going for.
Speaking of the art, I had read the previous issue, also penciled by Silva and Sandoval, and found the differences between their styles to be a huge distraction. I don’t know what happened between that issue and this one, but their styles flow into each others much better here. I really didn’t notice much of a difference at all. Unfortunately, neither last issue or this one listed which pages they worked on in the credits, so I have no idea who was responsible for what. Hey DC! If you’re reading this, can you please start giving artists page credits? The art itself is crisp and perfectly acceptable. It doesn’t really have any innovative set pieces outside all of the previously mentioned splash pages and big panels, but I didn’t ever not enjoy looking at it.
This issue takes a one page detour down to a shack in the gator filled bayous of Louisiana to tease a new mystery villian. The thing about this guy is I’m pretty sure he was every third new bad guy in 90s comics. He even has a wall full of 90s CRT TVs. He’s already my new favorite bad guy. Just look at him and how dumb this whole page is.
You see that first and third paragraph in the Positives section? Yeah, if you’re of a certain disposition just go ahead and move those paragraphs down here, and if you want to do that, I can’t really argue with you. There’s probably a pretty good reason we don’t really make movies and comics like we did back then anymore. It’s a style I totally unironically love though. What I don’t love though is my new favorite baddy’s dialogue in that one page. Lobdell is trying to make it a joke, but I think it just kind of falls flat. There’s another part of the issue where Starfire tries to speak in internet lingo, which I actually liked and felt was a potentially interesting direction to go with the character, but this dude’s dialogue just doesn’t really work.
So I’m cruising along through this issue enjoying this big dumb Washington nuke set piece, loving the Louisiana swamp shack (sorry I keep picking on Louisiana, but I’m from Mississippi…), when suddenly what could possibly be the worst possible thing happens. A plot suddenly rears its ugly head and people start standing around and talking about it. Don’t do this to me, Lobdell. Is it took much to ask for this trashy, stupid comic to remain plot free? Can’t each issue just be some sort of giant, True Lies like action set piece, preferably with a nuclear bomb? If this plot that takes up the back half of the issue leads to more of that, then all will be forgiven, but if it leads to more long, drawn out ancient demon families, well, you’ve been warned, Mr. Lobdell. And this time you don’t have Kenneth Rocafort covering your back. I guess I should also mention that this plot set up features a direct, very lazy reference to the plot set up of the original Star Wars movie. I found this to be more bad dumb than good dumb.
For his first issue back as the writer of RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, Scott Lobdell took a walk through a yellowed wood and came across two paths. One was covered in blood and violence, the other just had a bunch of people standing around talking. Choose wisely, Lobdell. I kind of don’t know what rating to give this one. 1? 5? It probably deserves all ratings.
Pick this one up if you like old masculine action movies, mysterious space ships with distress signals, or swamp shacks surrounded by gators.