RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #7

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[ SNIFF THOSE BARGAINS, BABY
Look out, folks! Love is in the air this February, 2017, simply because Scott Lobdell, Mirko Colak, and Veronica Gandini know exactly what it means! Especially when it comes to them tending to the rabbits in the middle of an isolated field of flowers and then... uhhh… wait? What am I going on about? Anyway, here comes the next Red Hood and the Outlaws review.

TO QUOTE Ernest Hemingway: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”.

THE REVIEW:
We all know two things for sure after checking out the events seen in last months issue: (1) Black Mask has been dealt with; and (2) Jason is now left with one last concern: How do you solve a problem like Bizarro? (Ha! Title drop! Who doesn’t love them?).

More or less Jason knows Bizarro only has the best of intentions, but as their little errand together showed, good intentions are not nearly enough. So unsure about what he should do next, he goes to Artemis for some advice. But from her point of view the situation comes down to whether Jason will be able to do the right thing if needed. So with few options left, Jason goes to the Batcave to say hi to Alfred and then pick up what might be the only solution to Bizarro’s problem: a shard of Kryptonite

For this issue Lobdell slows down the pace and delivers a heavily introspective story where Jason’s sense of duty clashes with his feelings. He knows Bizarro is a risk and should be taken care of before things get out of hand, but, at the same time, he knows it's not Bizarro’s fault. The clone was merely dealt a bad hand, a sentiment Jason is all too familiar with. 

Through his dialogue and inner thoughts, Lobdell skillfully presents the conflict brewing inside Jason’s mind, but more importantly, it allows him to perfectly showcase all the character development Jason has gone through these past years. Old Jason would’ve taken care of Bizarro without a second thought, but now thanks to the friendship he’s developed by spending some time with him, he realizes things aren’t so simple.

However, the most interesting part is the role Batman’s influence plays throughout the story. Even if he doesn’t admit it, Jason still sees him like a role model and can’t help but notice the similarities between Bizarro’s case and his own situation back when he was given the Robin mantle. Thus Jason ultimately decides to follow in Bruce’s foot steps, by taking full responsibility for anything that could possibly happen in the future and trusting Bizarro unconditionally. This resolution happens on what might be the most emotional scene Lobdell has written for the series so far.

Unfortunately, while Lobdell’s writing continues to be top notch, the art, on the other hand, takes a noticeable hit with the lack of Soy's contributions. Mirko Colak’s turn as guest artist for the series is very uneven, as his backgrounds and layouts are wonderful but the way he renders the characters’ faces leaves a lot to be desired. Jason and Artemis in particular barely look like themselves. 

On the flip side of the coin, Gandini continues to top herself with each new issue. She breathes new life into Colak’s pencil work, diminishing and sometimes downright fixing its flaws like in the case for the final scene of the book. Having dabbled in digital coloring as a hobby, I know how hard it can be to work with lights and shadows so I’m very impressed at the outstanding work she did to render the landscape where the book’s resolution takes place. The colors are vibrant and full of life, but at the same time there’s a dash of melancholy thrown over it from the setting sun on the horizon.

THE MUSIC:
This might be cheating, but can you blame me for musically matching up this issue with the original motion movie soundtrack for George and Lennie from “Of Mice and Men”? Lobdell wrote this issue with the express intent of reminding the reader of this wonderful film. I mean, can you tell me this song didn’t start playing in your head while reading the book’s final scene?




THE COMPARISON:
Jason is taking a gamble by allowing Bizarro to run unchecked, but really, what other option does he have? If anything, Bizarro is more of a victim, and by remaining by Jason and Artemis’ side its the best thing that could’ve ever happened to him.

THE CONCLUSION:
After an action filled first story-arc, the talented creative team behind this book have decided to delve deeper into the psyche of our lead man with extreme success. Not only humanizing him but also delivering a satisfying explanation as to why this new version of the Outlaws' were formed. Even though the art has some issues, the writing and excellent coloring more than makes up for it; making this issue a must have for any fan of these characters.

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

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