Recently things have been pretty good for Jason Todd, Artemis, and Bizarro. So much so, that Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini, and Taylor Esposito have taken it upon themselves to add a bit of drama to the mix, complemented with a hefty dose of fun, humor, and of course, a shed load of action! Yet did it work? Let's find out in the following review published in August, 2017.

TO QUOTE R.J. Gonzales: "A flower bloomed already wilting. Beginning its life with an early ending."

With the Outlaws back in Gotham you might have thought their return would be a triumphant one. But no, not really. Despite liberating Qurac and recovering the Bow of Ra from their nemesis, Akila, by doing so one of they're own got severely damaged in the process, namely, Bizarro .

Obviously Jason and Artemis are very-very concerned, and they barely manage to keep themselves from falling into despair over the fate of their youngest team member. But as everyone knows, Gotham isn’t the type of place that gives people a moment's rest! Especially when a mysterious individual (who witnessed the formation of the Dark Trinity) has set Solomon Grundy loose and now its up to Jason and Artemis to stop his mad rampage. Yet will they be able to do this without Bizarro's help? Pick up this issue to find out.

Now I'm afraid to say that after reading this book I’m fully convinced that Lobdell still hasn’t found his footing when it comes down to depicting the character of Artemis. Sometimes she comes across as being a pretty disjointed person, frigid even, yet she can also exhibit a more maternal side when need be.

That said, however, Lobdell was able to start off this new story-arc with one hell of a bang, much more so than the “Who is Artemis?” story-line, which suffered some pacing issues and was generally a weaker arc than “Dark Trinity”. Overall Lobdell smartly introduced this new adventure by literally throwing our heroes headfirst into a freshly written conflict with no real chance to take a breather.

Personally, I found the most interesting aspect of the entire story to be how Lobdell approached the emotional state of the Outlaws. I mean, the sorrow etched upon the faces of both Jason and Artemis was almost palpable, and this was complemented by their usual banter being a front for the sake of Bizarro’s benefit. Speaking of Bizarro, he has been written so effectively in the past that by seeing him laying on an operating table must tug at the reader’s heartstrings, tugging them so hard that they seem like they can almost burst. 

Something else about this book I rather enjoyed was how Grundy’s involvement in it didn't overpower the transition between the personal drama and the high octane action! Thankfully Lobdell manages to seamlessly bridge the two together by using Jason’s levity and Artemis' stoicism in terms of plot. And then, when Bizarro finally jumps into the fray, Ka-Pow! All bets are off!

Even though we knew the outcome of this story just by looking at the regular cover, Bizarro’s fate still manages to be a punch to the gut, with an unforgettable cliffhanger spearheaded by the appearance of a certain balding genius billionaire. All in all, most of these elements make issue 12 one of Lobdell’s finest works to date. Good job.

Now quickly moving on to the art side of things and I must once again complement Soy and Gandini for their work on this seriesSoy: with his magnificent penmanship; and Gandini: with her exquisite eye for color, hue, saturation, and texture, both artist's really knew how to elevate this tale far beyond Lobdell's script.  What I liked the most was how they both drew those gorgeous yet wordless splash pages where Soy and Gandini conveyed the plot through their unique talents. From the powerful visual of a defeated Bizarro, all the way up to that solemn moment when Jason and Artemis reach out and embrace, once again these two have proven they are more than a match for anything Lobdell can throw at them.

Also, let's not forget about the series’ letterer, Taylor Esposito, who was able to flex his artistic muscles with those dashing sound effects. Likewise he proved himself to be as important as the characters’ dialogue by allowing the reader to feel the power that Bizarro and Grundy hide inside. 

If there was any doubt over Jason and Artemis considering Bizarro to be their foster child, then the closing pages of this issue should clear up that matter once and for all. So with that in mind, how about we now have a little listen to the Eric Clapton classic, 'Tears in Heaven', as this should be the only song that could accompany the reading of this powerful issue.

All the elements previously mentioned combine themselves into an incredible roller-coaster ride where the adrenaline is flowing, the blood is pumping, and every moment of peace is immediately followed by action, emotion, and pathos. So come on, folks, Choo-Choo! Clime on board without getting board!

This issue is simply a masterpiece. Everyone involved came together so perfectly that they were able to deliver a standout book I couldn't put down. Now this isn't an easy feat to achieve given the amount of high quality book's DC have published since the start of Rebirth. Well done, and may your success continue to progress.

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

RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #12 RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #12 Reviewed by David Andrews on August 03, 2017 Rating: 5

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