One day, Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, and Veronica Gandini, each decided to take a group of incorrigible rascals on a trip. Their trip will essentially take them from the American suburbs all the way to the antique cities where the Amazons used to live. Or at least, that was the original plan before the kid’s rowdy behavior prompted the old and stern headmistress to cancel the trip. It's August, 2016, and it's time for the Outlaws in review.

TO QUOTE Ralph Waldo Emerson:  “We gain the strength of the temptation we resist“.

Jason's street cred among the criminals of Gotham has shot up the rankings quite recently, especially since he successfully staged an assassination attempt on the Mayor’s life, before getting himself into a battle with Batman. Now, as the most infamous criminal in town, he has free access to some of the vilest places in the city, where he can gather all kinds of useful information to help him on his crusade.

For reasons of his own Jason has set his sights on the biggest fish around: Roman “Black Mask” Sionis, the most powerful and evil crime boss in the city. Making one hell of a first impression, Jason manages to find employment with Roman but discovers things are much more complex than he initially thought, and maybe, just maybe, Roman could have a point with his antics.

Lobdell keeps the momentum from the explosive Rebirth one-shot by delivering another high octane, action filled issue that will keep you at the edge of your seat. Whereas the Rebirth one-shot focused on giving us the low down on Jason’s past, thus setting up his new status quo, this issue begins to fill the gaps in Jason’s story and sends him head-on into his new mission.

Once again I’m surprised by Lobdell. This time he has brought back a very old character, that, despite being deeply tied to Jason’s own origin, has been forgotten by pretty much everyone: Fay “Ma”Gunn. The “grandma of crime” makes a surprise return as one of the leads that point Jason towards Black Mask’s operation, and in just a couple of pages, Lobdell gives her more depth than in all of her previous appearances back in the 80s. She goes from a two-dimensional villain into someone who's able to leave a huge mark on Jason whilst owning a pretty twisted but honorable moral code.

On a similar note, under Lobdell’s pen Black Mask is a pretty different character compared to some of his previous iterations. Gone is the amusingly short tempered crime boss from Under The Red Hood, as well as the sadistic monster from War Games. This version of Roman is smart, elegant, and incredibly prideful, like he was during the Doug Moench and Kelley Jones run on the Batman solo comic. If Red Hood is Batman’s twisted reflection, Roman is Bruce’s. This change in tone makes Black Mask raise his threat considerably and adds a new layer of complexity to his dynamic with Jason. Especially since Mask is on the look out for a new heir and he finds Jason as a worthy candidate.

On the whole the series continues to be Jason's one-man-show, but on the final page of this book, surprise-surprise, one of his future teammates finally makes her great debut: Artemis, from the amazons.  Her appearance is short yet she leaves quite the impression, and I'd say Lobdell certainly didn’t disappoint with her introduction as it left me wishing this series were bi-weekly.

While Lobdell’s script is wonderful, it wouldn’t be the same without Soy’s fantastic art and Gandini’s exquisite coloring. Together they craft some stunning visuals that give a very cinematic feeling to the series, directly making Jason feel like this bigger-than-life character, in the same vein as other great action heroes from cinema. Whilst doing this, they also include small details in the panels -- like Jason offering his jacket to Ma Gunn, or eating cheap take-out while keeping tabs on Roman -- that serve to humanize Jason and make him more relatable to the audience.

Gandini continues her approach of washed out colors during the flashback sequences, adding an intense hue of red to make Jason distinctive in every scene. If the final pages of this issue are any indication, this approach will continue even as Artemis and Bizarro join the book. By highlighting specific elements on their costumes, each character becomes foreign elements in the frame, ensuring the reader’s attention will always be focused on them. A pretty novel approach that perfectly blends with Soy’s anime inspired art. Together, they turn this series into one of the most unique visual offerings from the Rebirth initiative.

For this issue, I could only pick one song to match it up with: The AC/DC classic, Thunderstruck!!

You might be thinking, “Why? There’s no thunder in this issue whatsoever!”. The answer is simple, dear reader! Jason is the eponymous thunder. Since page one he’s pulling all kinds of incredible feats  that leaves the audience with no other option than to stare in awe at his actions, eager to have more and more.

As soon as we open the book we are greeted by non-stop action, and then, as we continue to advance through the story, the stakes only keep going higher and higher, shocking us with the actions our talented creative team have Jason perform.  As I said above, there’s only one thing I can pick for this comparison, thunder.

Lobdell’s clever script, Soy’s fantastic pencils, and Gandini’s exquisite colors, smoothly blend together to create a memorable issue that not only propels forward Jason’s story, but also perfectly sets the stage to introduce the first member of this new team of Outlaws. Definitely, an issue you can’t let pass.

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


Post a Comment