This September, the one in 2015, Scott Lobdell, Denis Medri, and Blond have returned to their hometown of coff-coff, gurgle, ville. So you know the drill: drink some beers at the local pub, catch up with old childhood friends, and then get into a fistfight with the overpaid authorities. Yeah! Just a typical boys' night out.

To QUOTE Benjamin Spock: “Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do”. 

At the start of this issue we see Roy and Jay looking to end Underbelly's crime empire in Gotham City. Once in Gotham, however, they both decide to split up, going their own separate ways for a short while.

Our pal Jason meets up with an old childhood friend, called Gabby, giving us a powerful and emotional scene of two friends catching up after years of being apart. While Roy goes looking for Waylon Jones, AKA Killer Croc, his old AA sponsor. As I pointed out in the previous review, Roy hasn't been himself recently, realizing this by going to Waylon for some advice. And from my point of view this is without a doubt the best scene in the issue for its emotional depth alone.

When the boys get back together again, Jason tells Roy about a case from his Robin days, tied to Underbelly’s origin. But before they can investigate, they get challenged by, shock-horror, the new Batman.

Despite Batman getting top billing, the scene focuses on the boys, and they are the highlight of the confrontation. Lobdell proves his mastery by delving deeper into Jason and Roy's psyches. By exploring their pasts, the readers, namely us, are able to create an emotional connection with them. For instance, anyone with experience of addictions will empathize with Roy’s worry about having a relapse. While Jason is finally given the chance to come to terms with who he is, opening the door to a bright, fresh, future.

It's also fantastic to see Waylon more like a street-thug than a run-of-the-mill growling monster. Just like our protagonists, there's more to him than what meets the eye. Furthermore, Gabby’s introduction not only sheds more light on Jason’s nebulous past, but also helps to humanize him by showing that he has always had a strong sense of right and wrong since childhood. I couldn't help but see Gabby as a potential love interest for Jason, and if that is the case, I hope she gets better treatment than Isabel.

Lobdell also makes an effective use of the current status quo. Not only does Gordon prove he's a worthy heir to the mantle, the boys' reaction to him is priceless. I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of the current Bat-Jim situation. But that said, Gordon's participation was fantastic, and I couldn’t help but get excited by his scenes.

The only weak part of the issue, on the other hand, is the one related with Underbelly’s origin. The previous issue made it seem like he was a supernatural entity, older than time. But the truth is something simpler, and takes a lot of impact from his character.

Thankfully, Medri keeps topping himself on the art side of things. Like always he delivers some fantastic scenes that makes every character presented shine on the page. The sequence in the sewers is one of the best sequences I’ve seen in a comic book this month. Plus his masterful use of shadows creates a potent scene that leaves quite the impression on the reader.

My only complaint is that he draws Jason using Dick's Robin costume instead of his own.

Remember how last month I said that Horie was doing an excellent job and she might surpass Blond in due time?  Well, Blond is on coloring duties this month, and he made sure of proving me wrong. Blond's colors are vibrant, giving life to Medri's pencil work. Don't get me wrong. Horie's a great colorist, but she's still far from Blond’s level. 

The boys' less than stellar fight with Gordon immediately made me think of Inner Circle's classic, “Bad Boys”. And considering next issue’s cover, well, Roy and Jason might get a bit more than they can chew the second time around. 

Jason and Roy are at a noticeable disadvantage against the state-of-the art armor that Gordon wields, and some might think they epitomize a band of misfits, fighting the literal embodiment of the system with the deck stacked against them. Now where have I heard that before?

Oh! Of course! In the classic story of David against Goliath! As just like David, the former outlaws will need all of their cunning to be victorious against Gordon. Considering Roy's cunning and Jason's pragmatism, I think they will be fine.

This is the best issue of the series so far. With a perfect balance of action and character driven moments, we get to see it's full potential. Whether you're a fan of the characters, or simply you want a fun action series, give this issue a shot, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

** This review was brought to you by Adan, comic lad extraordinaire.

RED HOOD / ARSENAL #4 RED HOOD / ARSENAL #4 Reviewed by David Andrews on October 12, 2015 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.