Now in the month of November, 2014, Scott Lobdell, R. B. Silva, and Stephen Segovia, takes to a deep and thoughtful look into a story about drug abuse and its consequences. Oh! And you also get some sweet kick ass demon's who beat people up. Bless em.

To QUOTE Nero, from Devil May Cry 4: “And if I become a demon, so be it. I will endure the exile, anything to protect her”.

As we flip open the book we are greeted with a fairly feline looking Jason tearing through alien warriors like butter with a hot knife. Very impressive stuff, isn’t it? Sadly though, it's quickly made clear that this isn't real. It's just Jason hallucinating due to all the venom he's taken.

Still, once that’s over and done with, he goes to look for Roy, just to find his charred quiver amidst an ocean of flames. Then suddenly, we skip forward to the present day and time, where Jason ends his recount to Roy's one time mentor, what's-his-face Queen.

Of course, Oliver now decides to take matters into his own hands by using his wealth to make Roy better. But then again, how did he know a sudden appearance by an unexpected ally would beat him to the punch? So with Roy stable and in a nicer place, Jay's next step is to hop into the team’s ship to look for Kori even if that means asking an old foe for help.

As usual, Lobdell's grasp on Jason’s character is utterly fantastic. His monologues are on point, as well as his motivations. You can just tell how much Jason has grown since the first issue of this series. As with every writer, Lobdell does have his weak points but its as though he was born to write about him.

Speaking of Jason’s monologues, I’ve seen a lot of criticism about them, and personally, I think they work perfectly well. Essentially Jason is talking to the reader, getting them involved since page one, whilst also giving them a peek at how Jason’s mind works. Lobdell cleverly used this stance in the last scene where Jason starts talking to the ether -- queuing the readers that there’s something wrong with him.

Kori’s state is also very realistic (so much so that it can be uncomfortable for some) and really drives home how lost she is. An argument can be made about how erratic her actions are, yet that's exactly what makes this whole situation so brilliant -- she’s behaving just like a junkie would. The fact that she even had the clarity to get Roy to a hospital is also the perfect way to establish how important he is for her.

Roy is still out of commission for most part of the issue, but Ollie’s scenes more than makes up for his absence. While his concern for Roy is more reminiscent of their relationship on the TV show (mainly to how disjointed Ollie’s characterization on the N52 has been), his actions are pretty heart-warming and show without a doubt the connection both of them share.

The sudden return of Crux and Essence are also a treat since it is pretty rare for writers to pick up on old plot threads (on the N52 at least, pre reboot DC was the best at continuity). With this, Lobdell manages to bring the book full circle. The team’s first foes now hold the key of its survival, and I have no doubt that the price to pay will to be pretty high.

I need to be honest though. I loathed Tynion’s run on the book and I rather have that forgotten but it's commendable on Lobdell’s part to pick up on his plot points.

What's more, I can’t close my analysis on the good things this issue brought us without talking about the absolutely gorgeous cover. The best cover on the series’ run. The pencils are detailed without being busy, the inking is superb, the colours vibrant, and for once, it has a connection with the story inside. All of this adds for a cover that really stands out on the shelf -- truly, one of Stephen Segovia’s finest works.

Sadly, Roy’s plot keeps on being this story's weakest link. The idea in itself is a solid one but is solved way too fast and makes for a very blatant deus ex machina. Although to be fair, any resolution would’ve felled short since Roy’s status was way too drastic to be satisfactorily resolved.

Add Ollie’s comments about bringing 'Roy home' and I’m left thinking that plot point is editorial mandated -- just to give Roy a soft reboot and making him closer to the show’s depiction. I do hope I’m wrong, but it seems that Roy’s time with the team is coming to an end.

However, my biggest gripe with the issue was the artwork. Not because it's bad but because it was plagued with some 'off model moments' (probably due to deadlines) and some very big continuity errors. Roy status this issue is far from being the human charcoal we saw last issue but still conveyed the gravity of his situation. And yet, a mere two pages after his first appearance on the issue, he looks like he just broke his arm. This continues during Essence’s scene (due the magical nature of Essence it was probably meant to say “Roy’s fine now”) but on the closing pages of the book Roy looks just like at the start of the issue.

All of this makes for a very confusing read since Roy’s status isn’t made clear to the reader. Is he so badly burned that he would make for a very convincing Deadpool double or is he fine and just needs some rest?

Jason’s final scene is also left very ambiguous -- is he going off the deep end and talking to the air? Is Essence on the ship with him? The cargo on the ship, is it more Venom? Jason’s face being reduced to just two dots on his head also takes a lot of tension off the scene. Some visual cues (or even some labels on the canisters) would’ve been appreciated.

Another thing worth noticing is that if you skipped past a chapter then you will be utterly lost -- this issue can’t be read as a standalone tale.

On the whole I'd say Velvet Revolver’s 'Fall to pieces' is the perfect song to illustrate Kori and Jason’s descend into the drug abuse abyss.

Jason and Kori's use of drugs in search for solace / power reminded me of the mythical Faust of German lore. All of them made a deal with the devil, craving immediate satisfaction while overlooking the risks at their well-being. With this in mind, Tony Johannot’s Faust and Mephistopheles, is the perfect comparison for this issue.

Despite my complaints about the artwork and Roy’s arc, this was another great adventure. Moving the main plot points smoothly forward and adding some unexpected elements, it becomes quite the treat for any reader; whether they’ve been following the book since issue 1 or just from this arc’s start.

Another solid entry into what it has become Lobdell’s best work at DC. I can’t wait for see him work his magic on the second annual later this month.

*** This review was brought to you by Adan - Comic Lad Extraordinari

RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #36 RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #36 Reviewed by David Andrews on December 04, 2014 Rating: 5
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