RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #13

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[ BIZARRE BARGAIN
I'm afraid to say that Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini, and Taylor Esposito had to leave early since they've each booked a medical appointment for the end of August, 2017. Luckily for us, though, they've left another great book for us to review while they get their checkups. So come on, bring over that chair, take some refreshments, and pay no attention to that nurse with the giant syringe behind you. It's time for Red Hood and... Ouch!!!

TO QUOTE Andrew Grey:  “Scars are simply modern battle wounds. Sometimes the enemy happens to be inside us.

THE REVIEW:
At the end of last months episode, Bizarro was at death’s door and this left Jason and Artemis having to trust none other than Lex Luthor to save their very sick friend. Regrettably this situation is something they are both understandably wary about, which is a perfectly normal response considering that Luthor did attack them by surprise while recovering Bizarro’s body. Old habits die hard it seems.  What do you think, dear reader? Are Luthor’s efforts sincere?

Overall Lobdell seems to have a magic touch when it comes down to writing certain characters, as he manages to write great stories regardless of the time or space constraints placed upon him -- Jason being the most obvious example, and I’m pleased to say that Bizarro quickly became part of this exclusive club. While Artemis’ arc suffered from being restricted to four issues, Bizarro’s story flows perfectly in just two. Normally someone might question a speedy recovery like the one featured in these pages, but Lobdell’s script manages to cleverly use part of Bizarro’s lore to explain it in such a way that it leaves the reader completely satisfied. And, better yet, he adds an unexpected side effect that will serve as the basis for the next major arc of the series, one which complimented the situation with some very poignant and emotional scenes for all of our protagonists.

Now moving on over to the art side of things, and I'd say this Bizarro focused adventure allowed Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini, and Taylor Esposito to flex their creative muscles and try new things. The opening sequence, which was told from Bizarro’s perspective, allowed us to see a different side to Soy that rarely has the chance to be in the spotlight, making it easy to forget how versatile and talented he really is. His cute manga style is so different from his usual comic book style and yet it doesn’t clash with the rest of the issue. A feat that is harder than it seems, as many artists can testify.

However, this is as much of a success for Soy’s talent than it is for Gandini's since she’s the one tasked with keeping the art consistent with her color palette. A task, I hasten to add, that she passes with flying colors, even when the script asks for Soy to get surreal with his art (Don’t worry! You will know what I’m talking about when you get to those pages).

Over on the flip side of the coin, while Soy and Gandini needed to maintain a logical through-line with their art, Esposito, on the other hand, is given free rein to use the lettering to show the changes happening throughout the tale. And believe me, the twist at the end wouldn’t be the same without the subtle changes in the dialogue and caption boxes.

THE MUSIC:
The bulk of this issue is spent looking back at all the happy memories Jay, Lex, and Artemis have made with Bizarro, as well as the way he changed their lives simply by being with them. So, with that in mind, I had to go with “Memories” from the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.




THE COMPARISON:
Given the reflective theme that is driving the plot for this issue, I just have to compare it with a photo album. This issue offers us the rare chance of seeing what our protagonists do in their spare time, to witness them just spending time together and strengthening their bonds. Amusingly, the nature itself of said bonds makes me feel like I’m looking through the photo album of a young couple celebrating the early years of their first born, a connection that didn’t escape Lobdell’s sharp mind.

THE CONCLUSION:
This episode is sort of a one off interlude where the action and super-heroics get benched in lieu of a more introspective and personal story, a story where the characters’ state of mind and dynamics with each other are the main focus. By itself this is a real treat for anyone who follows this series, but surprisingly enough, is also a great starting point for newcomers, with a fantastic opening that will keep them glued to the book and that perfectly summarizes our protagonists. All in all this is another home run for the creative team behind this title! Well done!

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

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