This week’s issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws opens with Jason Todd, the Red Hood, sitting next to his bed-ridden partner Roy Harper, a.k.a. Arsenal. Harper has burns all over his body, and Todd is reflecting on the events leading up to their current situation. Oliver Queen stops by for a moment, and despite Jason’s short protest, he leaves Oliver and Roy alone while he continues contemplating. After all, Roy might not make it through this and Oliver at least deserves to make peace.
Koriand’r, better known as Starfire, was lying in meditation in the surf on a Malibu beach close to where Red Hood and Arsenal were passing. She reawakens, but doesn’t seem herself. She’s more impulsive than her usually calculating demeanor, which worries Jason and Roy.
Later, while Roy is helping Koriand’r recover, she declares her love for him. Red Hood is trying to track down terrorists when Man-Bat appears as a hologram to tell him that new exonerating evidence has cleared Koriand’r from S.H.A.D.E.’s radar. Red Hood tracks down a lead in New Orleans with Arsenal and Starfire, busting into a warehouse full of drug-enhanced thugs. Starfire almost wipes them all out at once, but stops herself and leaves quickly. Arsenal takes off after her, leaving Red Hood to fight all the goons in the warehouse.
Meanwhile, Arsenal catches up with Starfire, who’s crying to herself outside. Arsenal tries to figure out what is going on with her, and we get the reveal that something has been wrong with Starfire for a while. She demands the he leave her alone, and flies off in a blaze. Unfortunately, Arsenal was caught in the fire trail she left.
For anyone picking up this story for the first time, this is actually a pretty decent starting point. The entire issue is an exposition to what happened to cause Roy Harper to be lying in the hospital bed. But that’s not all. There’s so much mystery to the events in this story that it almost feels like it’s set up specifically to entice readers to continue reading this series to find out what happens next, and maybe even purchase a few back issues for context. But really, isn’t that the ultimate goal of ANY ongoing series? So well done on that part. Writer Scott Lobdell was careful to give readers a little taste of what had happened in the past and what was to come, but not so much of a taste that absolutely everything was explained in those 19 pages.
The art was gritty, vivid and well-detailed, and captured not only the importance of the scenes themselves, but the moods of the scenes as well. Every panel was brilliantly executed by Geraldo Borges and Richard and Tanya Horie.
While the book itself was interesting to read, the dialogue was a little drab. Short sentences, small quips here and there overall really don’t help to move the story along. The narration and artwork take care of most of that. The characters themselves therefore feel dry and undeveloped, and we are forced to only take them at face value because we’re not given enough to sympathize with any of the heroes featured here. Scott Lobdell told this story well, but he didn’t rely on the characters themselves to tell it. I’m not saying he should fill every page with speech bubbles and block out the art, but involve the characters just a tad more in his storytelling.
Overall this was a pretty great piece, the cover was incredible, and the pages themselves kept me turning to see the next amazingly drawn and colored panel. I’m interested to see what is going on between these three characters in future issues, but only if they are more involved in their own stories.