RED HOOD / ARSENAL #10

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[ BULLET FOR A BARGAIN
It's March, 2016, and the highly anticipated Batman v Superman movie is rocking and rolling, making everyone edge their bets one way or the other. Scott Lobdell and Dexter Soy think that Batman is going to win. Where as Jose Villarrubia and DC Comics are betting on the Man of Steel. Me, on the other hand, well, I think Jay and Roy will come out on top. As seen in the following comic book.

TO QUOTE George Bernard Shaw: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” 

THE REVIEW:
After dealing with Duela's unfinished confrontation down in Gotham’s Nethers, Rent-A-Bat is back, back in business, and is taking a very high profile job in the middle of Washington D. C. According to their usual underworld fixer, Tara Battleworth, the terrorist group known as H.I.V.E. have set their sights on one of the Navy’s destroyers and it's up to Jason and Roy to foil their plans.

But how did the boys get there in the first place? Well, it turns out, that Jason and Roy went to Washington to ask Tara for her advice regarding Duela's two-toned disposition, and begrudgingly, Tara offers the boys a deal: She will have Duela analyzed by a friend of hers, and if she gives an approbatory evaluation, then, and only then, will Tara help them spin their addition into something positive. Yet if Duela fails to pass this test, Tara will leave them by the wayside.

Of course the boys’ agree to Tara’s terms so she calls her expert to conduct the evaluation. Well, lets face it, the boys can’t do much aside from keeping an eye on the little minx. And luckily enough, they get called in for a new job, thus setting the stage for the issue’s story.

Thing is, will Duela prove to her shrink that she is a changed person? Will Rent-A-Bat score a new success with their up and coming mission? Will Tara finally admit she actually likes the guys? Only one way to find out, dear reader! Read-Read-Read.

In this issue, Lobdell can finally tell a story which is not tied to someone else’s ideas, proving once again that his work is superior when it isn’t restricted by editorial mandates or trying to fit on a set continuity (besides his own of course). From start to finish this issue is just fun, and very reminiscent of classic action movies where the line separating bad guys from good guys is clear and jokes are the order of the day. Roy and Jason’s banter is a delight to read, showcasing how deep their friendship runs, as they have that total confidence in each other's abilities, explaining why they triumph against impossible odds. Simply put, they’re one of the best bromances that the superhero industry has on offer these days. Case closed.

But what about Duela? Well, her scenes are incredibly insightful about what makes her tick, and, while I can’t vouch for the accuracy on which the counseling is being handled, Lobdell convincingly sells the interactions between Duela and the counselor. However, the end twist takes everything we knew about Duela and turns it on its head. Honestly, at this point I don’t know where Lobdell is going with Duela but I can’t wait to discover it.

There’s also another interesting bit going on with the counselor herself. While she’s never referred to by name, the art singles her out as a relevant character and she even admits by the end that she isn’t an actual psychiatrist, just a substance abuse counselor. All clues are pointing towards this character being Lilith Clay, who currently co-stars on Titan’s Hunt alongside Roy and all the former Titans. A nice little nod from Lobdell’s part to reward those readers who follow both series.

For this issue it looks like Fernandez is replaced by Dexter Soy on art duties, a fitting choice since Soy was the artist on another Jason-centric series that you may have heard of: Arkham Knight Genesis. While I have my fair share of issues regarding the writing of that series, Soy’s pencils were always enjoyable. His style is sort of a cross between a classic 90s aesthetic with anime, which to me, is a great fit for Jason’s character. Plus I was always curious on seeing him tackle N52’s Jason.

For the most part he succeeds, especially regarding Roy who hasn't looked this good for a long time. However, Jason’s face and expressions lack the same definition present on other characters, and this gives an aspect that clashes with his actions. Soy’s Duela on the other hand is gorgeous and makes me grateful she’s not wearing that horrible Joker mask anymore (or is she?).

Villarrubia returns to coloring duties, and I must say, I’m pleased to see his work is a noticeable step up over the previous issue. I couldn’t notice an actual change in Villarrubia’s color palette, yet it seems that Soy’s style works better with his coloring. Fernandez is still solicited for the next issue, but considering all the changes going on around Rebirth, I wouldn’t be surprised if Soy and Villarrubia stick around for the final two issues of the series.

THE MUSIC:
Jason and Roy are presently engaged in combat against a bunch of terrorists that threaten to destroy the Pentagon by using a humongous bomb. Worst still, they’re badly outnumbered, the clock’s ticking, and yet, they can’t stop making snide remarks at each other. While reading this I couldn’t stop thinking about the movie, Lethal Weapon, and that excellent song used for the nightclub scene.




THE COMPARISON:
Duela’s addition to the team is a huge gamble for the boys. Is she truly willing to change? And is Jason’s trust in her justified? As it was mentioned in the story, there’s no real answer to this... Duela’s rehabilitation is a coin flip where she can easily become a regular high school girl or throw herself head on in the darkest pits of madness.

THE CONCLUSION:
With the end of the series coming closer and closer, Lobdell doesn’t waste any time to set up an explosive last ride for the boys, making this issue a sort of breather episode before the other shoe drops and they have their belief and friendship put to the test. A must for any fan of the characters.


*** This review was brought to you by Adan, Comic Lad Extraordinaire.

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