RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #33 written by Scott Lobdell, art by RB Silva, and colors by Matt Yackey is light on the excellent dumbness of last month’s issue.
I’ve been looking forward to this week all month. Week 3! That’s when RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS comes out! It’s guilty pleasure week. If I lived in a country where guns were legal I’d be firing all of them at once straight into the air. After the nuke-kicking supreme ridiculousness of the previous issue I was more than a little pumped for this one. Would we get an update on the 90s villain with a CTR TV collection living in the swamp? Would the outlaws foil another attempt to nuke Washington D.C.? Would they do it by having Starfire kick another nuclear missile? I’ve been waiting a month to find out, and unfortunately my boy Scott Lobdell let me down.
For the previous couple of issues RB Silva has been sharing art duties with Rafa Sandoval, which has at times led to a confused look. Here RB Silva gets a chance to shine by himself, and I don’t know if it is because he doesn’t have to suffer comparisons with Sandoval or if I’ve just come around to him or what, but here I’ve gone from being in the “I like this art” camp to “I really like what he’s doing here.” He puts a really thick outline on everything and mainly uses fairly straight lines, which combined with Mayy Yackey’s excellent, bright colors makes the comic look like a really nicely detailed cartoon. I just really love the palette used here. There is only one hint of the usual dark grittiness often found in cape comics these days, and that one page is justified.
It seems like Lobdell is at least trying to take serious strides to try to mend people’s perceptions that his take on Starfire is misogynist. One half of the issue is devoted to a flashback of her going out and being heroic on her own while fully clothed, talking about how her “agency” was taken (when she was a child slave) and how now she is taking it back. All this is fairly decent, non disgusting stuff. During this flashback, Starfire’s thought bubbles are used for narration. This is a technique I feel like we don’t see a lot of in comics these days, and I like it. It was mixed in with some standard caption narration boxes, and the thought bubbles weren’t used in scenes set in the present day.
That whole half of the issue devoted to a flashback? As fine as it is on its own, it really kind of kills the pacing of the issue. It’s more or less a retread of some stuff from Lobdell’s previous time on the book, and it’s low on the manic energy RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS has at the best of times. This is pretty clearly scene immediately after the flashback when we get a conversation between Roy Harper and Jason Todd. Most of the Lobdell’s dialogue tends to be pretty bad, but the stuff between the three main characters is usually great, which it is in this scene. He’s worked up a great chemistry between the characters and how important they are to each other really shines through. That’s the secret heart of this series, and spending one full half of an issue focusing on just one of the characters and then having that character be totally separated from the other two for the rest of the issue cuts that strength off right at the knees. I’m not saying this flashback shouldn’t have been done or that the characters should never be separated, but perhaps it shouldn’t of been a full half of the issue.
Because the flashback is so long, nothing really ends up happening. We get the beginning of a tussle between Man-Bat and the two boys on the team and the beginning of a fight between Starfire and some random aliens, and not much it. It’s a real wheel-spinning issue. Where’s the crazy high stakes excitement of the previous issue? I wanted a lot more out of this comic that what I ended up getting. Things are in place though for the next issue to be good and exciting. One can hope.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #33 starts straying down that wrong path in the woods I mentioned at the end of my review of last month’s issue. That’s not to say this was a bad issue. It’s not. There’s some pretty good stuff in there. It’s just low energy compared to last month’s. There’s still time to turn the ship around though!
Buy this comic if you like cartoony-art, Starfire blowing people up, dangling, unaddressed plot threads from the previous issue.