Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #1 continues the story right were it left off in issue 20. Jason Todd is coping with his memory loss and decides to
look into his past, and finds that does not like the man he was or the friends he has. Meanwhile Roy Harper comes face to face with Oliver Queen and finally we get to see what happened between these former partners. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much.
Along with uncovering the hidden past between Roy Harper and Oliver Queen, we are introduced to Cheshire, a deadly assassin who takes on Starfire, Red Arrow, Green Arrow and Jason Todd without any threat to herself. After a brief battle—and quite a few flashbacks—Cheshire vanishes and Jason leaves to figure out just what kind of man he is. We also get to see the technical wizard that Roy is. There are some fun moments between Green Arrow and Roy’s robot arms. Jason has become a very realistic character, becoming more discouraged by the person he was, and wanting nothing to do with the chaos that surrounds him.
This book has a lot of problems. For more than a year I have been waiting for the story of Green Arrow and Speedy, wondering what could have happened between these characters that would drive Roy to try and committee suicide by way of taking on Killer Croc. The truth is that Oliver Queen didn’t want Roy to get hurt in the field, but also didn’t use the gadgets Roy made for him. Roy whined at Oliver, then Oliver yelled at Roy. During this time Roy started going to therapy with Dr. Hugo Strange. I feel like this should be some kind of major revelation, that maybe Roy has been manipulated psychologically, but it just doesn’t seem genuine. Roy does join Green Arrow as a sidekick in one of the flashbacks, but Green Arrow pushes him aside and the partnership ends. It isn’t the heartbreaking betrayal we would have been expecting. I’m hoping soon the tell us that Something else hit Roy very hard or close to home, because otherwise Roy Harper is just the whiniest super hero in comics. Even when the dust settles and Oliver tries to make amends with Roy for the trouble he has caused and past they share, Roy shuts him down and seems perfectly happy to be miserable.
The character Cheshire is a ninja assassin who uses deadly poisons and blades, as well as the ability to become intangible. She should be a serious threat, but she flirts with Roy the entire duration of the fight. Writers can effectively employ the unlikable character archetype who dooms themselves through overconfidence, but slapping bad dialog and a “ha ha, you can’t touch me” attitude on a ninja does not work.
The book is also peppered with lesser flaws, as when Green Arrow crashes on the Island, only to leave in the same aircraft.
Green Arrow Annual #1 is a case of having an annual on the schedule but not having content to fill its pages. It is nice that James Tynion is filling in the gaps, but the execution could have been better all around. Though Jason’s story is enjoyable, the rest of this issue seems to be “Fine, you wanna know what happened? Here’s a story.” And as with Earth 2 Annual #1, this story is a direct tie in. If you do not read the annual but still read the series you will miss the reason Jason is no longer with the Outlaws, as the title suggests.
This annual does, however, tell us that some bigger things are happening. The Justice League of America was interested in the whereabouts of Roy Harper, though decide not to pursue him as a personal favor to Green Arrow. The League of Assassins is still interested in Jason Todd. I am looking forward to the next issue if only because my curiosity of Jason’s future outweighs my disappointment in Roy’s past.