RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #5

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[ BIG HEAD / SMALL POCKETS ]
As another year and another month comes to a close, Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, and Veronica Gandini, gather together and reminisce about all of the good times they had throughout the year. So come on, let's drink, be merry, and get on down with 2017, along with the intrepid adventures of Red Hood and the Outlaws.

TO QUOTE Isabel Allende: “We only have what we give.”

THE REVIEW:
Following on from last months cliff-hanger, this book begins with Jason engaged in a full-on fist-fight against Black Mask and his newest pawn: Bizarro. As you'd expect, Jason does his best to bravely fight on, even though he isn't a real contender against the might of a mind-controlled Superman-clone. Luckily for him, though, Artemis has decided to delay her search for the Bow of Ra and lend's him a hand one last time.

So while Artemis keeps Bizarro busy, Jason focuses his efforts on taking Sionis down, once and for all: Hoping that will be enough to free Bizarro and stop his rampage before Artemis is forced to take drastic measures to save everyone's life.

Now will Jason be able to stop Sionis in time? Here's hoping!

Unlike last month’s introspective issue, this month we have an extended fight scene involving all of the major characters introduced in the book so far. Lobdell manages to spread them out, somewhat efficiently, playing up their strengths to deliver a satisfying battle.

Artemis is allowed to showcase her strength and combat training; Bizarro shows signs of having developed an attachment to Jason and Artemis (setting the foundations of their inevitable team-up); where as Jason has to rely on his intelligence to find a solution to Bizarro’s dilemma.

Swiftly moving onto the flip side of the page, and Sionis has gone full super-villain this month, focusing his energy's entirely on taking Jason down by any means necessary. While this makes for an effective adversary, I have to admit, it is a bit disappointing to see his composed and cold persona from previous issues go away. Although anyone familiar with the character should’ve seen it coming, as Sionis has always been one of the most temperamental villain’s in Batman's rogues gallery.

Despite that small flaw, issue five continues the trend set by previous issues of being an absolute delight to read, with strong characterizations and plenty of world building going on in the background. Speaking of which, I was pleasantly surprised by Lobdell’s callback to the previous volume of the series by reintroducing Simon Amal, AKA Crux, as one of Jason’s allies. Crux is a character with a lot of untapped potential and I can’t wait to see more of him down the line. But more importantly, now we know for certain that Arsenal and Starfire remain an important part of Jason’s past.

Art-wise, Soy once again leaves us speechless with his great pencil-work. From the opening page being a shout out to classic FPS games, to Artemis’ grand entrance, Soy doesn’t stop surprising us with his clever use of layouts and attention to detail on each panel.

Of course, even the greatest pencils can suffer at the hands of an inexperienced colorist, but thankfully, Gandini proves once again to be one of the best colorist's in the business, with her well trained eye and her skill to pick the perfect color palette to complement not only Soy’s strokes but also Lobdell’s script. Lovely stuff!

THE MUSIC:
With the future of Bizarro and Gotham’s safety resting in the hands of Jason and Artemis’ battles with Black Mask, I feel as if Judas Priest’s 'One Shot at Glory' would be an appropriate song to listen to while reading this comic.




Just as the lyrics say, they have a single chance to change the tides to their favor.

THE COMPARISON:
From page one, we the readers were put in Jason Todd’s shoes, looking up in awe at Bizarro’s mighty power. By seeing this, I couldn’t help but think of the dangerous and incredibly exciting sport of Bullfighting.

Under Sionis control, Bizarro has been reduced to an unstoppable agent of destruction, hell bent on taking down that red pest dancing in front of his eyes: Not unlike a bull fighting for his survival against a calm and stoic matador. And to me, this is a stalemate where both parties know the slightest slip up will be enough to determine the winner. Who will slip first here? Jason? Sionis? Or maybe Artemis?

THE CONCLUSION:
Five months in, and this series has managed to keep the excellent quality delivered since the Rebirth issue. Truly, this book is the dark horse of the Rebirth initiative, pleasantly surprising everyone who doubted Lobdell’s experience with these characters and putting a well-deserved spotlight on Soy and Gandini’s work: Letting everyone know they are rising stars within the industry.

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

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