RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #11

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[ BARGAIN BATTLE ]  
I'm afraid to say that Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, and Veronica Gandini, have each forgotten to get their fathers a gift for Fathers Day. But, in their defense, they did spend an awful lot of time creating the following issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws! It's June, 2017, and it's time to say sorry to the ones we love.

TO QUOTE Sugarland: What do I have to do to make you see she can’t love you like me”.

THE REVIEW:
After the events seen in the previous episode, Jason and Artemis both find themselves on opposite sides of the Qurac / Bana-Mighdall conflict. Artemis is obviously following her old flame, Akila, whereas Jason has decided to help the lesser of two evils by joining Qurac’s army. 

What side is in the right and what side is in the wrong? Will Jason and Artemis come to blows in order to defend what they each believe in? And more importantly, where is Bizarro? The answers will surprise you, Outlaw fans, so what are you waiting for? Go pick up this issue today!

Finally we arrive at the climax of the 'Who is Artemis?' story-line, and to my delight, Lobdell’s conclusion is back to the high standards he set when the series began. While it is true there are no real surprises regarding Akila or Artemis’ inner turmoil, the final confrontation between the two of them is an incredibly satisfying development for Artemis as a character, one that has allowed her to fully embrace her role as one of the new Outlaws.

To this end, Lobdell aptly puts Jason in the background, serving as the voice of reason for Artemis and what she must do next. But please, don’t think for one minute this means he will sit out of a good fight. He moves into action when Artemis needs him the most, and to the surprise of everyone, he's accompanied by two of his old friends: The All Blades, with some limitations placed upon them just to avoid the abuse other writers have sometimes indulged in. However, the biggest takeaway from their appearance is the confirmation that The All-Caste continues to be an important element of Jason’s backstory, which is a question that many fans, myself included, has asked since the moment Rebirth began.

Bizarro makes his return to the story with a bang, pulling a feat so amazing and unexpected that you have to see it to believe it, once again proving himself to be a key player when it comes to ending a conflict. Unfortunately this victory comes with a hefty price tag, but fear not, this is all part of Lobdell’s plan to smoothly make the transition to the next, Bizarro-centric story-arc. So trust me, we’ll see much more of Bizarro in the near future.

Despite all of this, for me, the standout moment of the entire issue is that brief and tender scene between Artemis and Jason, where they both share a warm hug once the fight is finally over. As I’ve mentioned before, I would love to see Jason and Artemis both playing Bizarro's surrogate parents, so I’m thrilled over the implication the scene could have on the title’s future. Definitely it would be an interesting angle to explore.

I’ll be honest with you guys, each month it becomes harder and harder to not repeat myself over how much I love Soy and Gandini's work on this title. They’re simply one of the best artist and colorist teams currently working in the industry. Soy not only has an excellent eye for detail, imbuing every panel with life and vibrancy, but the characters he draws are just so expressive, with such a great grasp of body language that his pencils tell as much of the story as Lobdell’s script does. Pair this with Gandini’s exquisite color pallet, her mastery over the use of lighting and shadows, and you have a book that is a delicacy for the eyes. The page where Lobdell allows Soy and Gandini to flex their muscles and tell the story with their art is just wonderful and makes me wish for a completely silent issue. No words nor sound effects needed, just beautiful art and colors on every page.

THE MUSIC:
For a brief, beautiful moment, Artemis thought she could be at Akila’s side once again and return to how things were before she was forced to leave her and her amazon sisters on her quest for the Bow of Ra. But reality soon came knocking at her door and she had to say goodbye to her dreams, just like the Kansas’ all time classic, 'Dust in the Wind'.




THE COMPARISON:
Many of the adventures Artemis has gone through since she left Bana-Mighdall has led to this final confrontation against Akila, a confrontation where Artemis is being tested by the Egyptian gods to see if she has become worthy of wielding their power. School tests, don't you hate them?

THE CONCLUSION:
After a weak second issue, Lobdell steers the story to a satisfying ending; neatly tying loose ends about Artemis’ past while also setting the stage for the new arc and bringing back old elements from Jason’s previous runs. Alongside Soy and Gandini’s beautiful artwork, this issue proves once again why the series is one of the best on DC’s current output and one well deserving of a spot on your shelf.

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

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