[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
Inker: Veronica Gandini
Red Hood is going deep undercover to figure out what is going on the Gotham underworld. As per his deal with Batman, The Red Hood is going to try to keep the body count to a minimum. Guest appearances include Batman, Faye “Ma” Gunn and leader of the Gotham underworld himself, Black Mask. Issue one has everything a comic fan could want and then some. There are explosions, flying bullets, flashbacks, fast food, thugs getting what their butts kicked, an Amazon and a teddy bear.
There are splash pages galore in this issue. Soy packs so much information in each one. They are broad scoped and beautifully done. There are pages full of action and pages full of static landscapes. The landscapes serve as a reminder that these characters are not just two dimensional. They have back stories. They have ambitions. Regardless of how sick the ambitions are, they are real. Soy’s depiction of the actual mask that Black Mask wears is the best version I have ever seen. It looks like he, and his henchmen, got matching masks at a going out of business sale at at bondage shop.
Lobdell likes to tell long stories. He is in no hurry here to get to the end of the first story arc. The title is “Dark Trinity, Part 1: Fathers and Sons.” We know from the get go that we are going to tell this story slowly and that there will be layers. He continues to humanize Jason Todd in a way that only he can. He also keeps the humor that was so evident in the last incarnation of the book. Just when things seem to be a bit too intense, Jason has the perfect line to break the tension.
The last page is spectacular. It has everything that a great cliffhanger needs. It is the first page in the whole book where inker Veronica Gandini really gets to let her pallet burst onto the page. Jason has the exact right thing to say. It is just about perfect.
The hope is that Jason’s deal with Bruce does not go on beyond this first arc. A Red Hood who keeps his guns in his holsters is not the anti-hero he should be. The only part of the plot that seems a bit too easy is the way that Black Mask simply welcomes Red Hood in with open arms and offers him his kingdom with only a handshake and a snarky comment as payment. He has never been the smartest villain in Gotham, but he did not build an entire network of thugs and thieves by being impetuous.
If you are one of the people who said, “Red Hood and the Outlaws are back in Rebirth, who cares?” you need to change your attitude and pick this up. Lobdell and Soy have this train running in the right direction. Jump on before you get run over.