One day, Scott Lobdell, Joe Bennett, Veronica Gandini, and someone named Blond, decided to team-up and bring us another thrilling and heart-wrenching story full of friendship, brilliance, and scamming criminal masterminds. It's October, 2017, and it's time for Red Hood and the Outlaws in review. Read it at your peril.

TO QUOTE Jim Rohn:Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time”.

When this issue begins, we see what the Outlaws are up to a couple of days after the dramatic events which played out at the end of issue 13. From the looks of it, the changes made to Bizarro were pretty positive, as he’s providing all types of technologically advanced gadgets that would make Batman go green with envy. Jason himself is aghast at the way Bizarro’s inventions are making a significant change to his fight against crime, while Artemis, on the other hand, not being used to change; is unnerved and wary about the whole thing. Meanwhile Bizarro is probably the happiest with these changes. But that said, is everything really all happiness and light? 

As I’ve mentioned before, Lobdell handles Bizarro’s character extremely well, and delivers an incredible issue that finally gives some respite to the Outlaws after passing through so many trials. In fact, the final page reveal is so staggering, it figuratively pulls the rug from under the audience’s feet, showing us that there’s much more at play here than meets the eye. Interestingly, Lobdell seems to take inspiration from literature when writing Bizarro’s character arc. Back in issue 7 he paid homage to Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men', and now the influences from Daniel Keyes' sci-fi novel, 'Flowers for Algernon', are undeniable. Better get those tissues ready, people, as it's bound to be a tearjerker!

While the focus of the story is mainly on Bizarro, we are also shown that Jason’s concern for his friend wasn’t just for show. Despite Genius Bizarro (or as he affectionately calls him, 'Smartzarro') bringing massive changes to Jason’s life; it's clear that Jason sees it like a bonus and the real source of his happiness is the mere fact that Bizarro was saved from passing away. Admittedly, this is a far cry from the Jason we met five years ago, as he was more interested in the tech Kori could provide rather than the princess herself.

Artemis continues to be the voice of reason for this issue, as she voices her rational doubts and is understandably unsettled at Smartzarro. She has a small role, for sure, but a pretty important one, nonetheless, which keeps the cast grounded amidst this situation, whilst making it relatable to the audience. 

The art duties are handled by none other than Joe Bennett, the artist who previously worked with Lobdell on the final two issues of Red Hood / Arsenal, published last year. Unfortunately his work here isn’t as polished as it was back then, as the art is still good but it doesn’t “pop” in the same way that it did before (plus on certain pages it clearly seemed rushed). This is really unfortunate since I loved his previous work and I was looking forward to this issue.

Not to worry, though, because this month Gandini shares coloring duties with Blond, and I’m pleased to say that they keep up the standards we’ve come to expect from them, with the scene in the sewers being the absolute standout of the entire book. Honestly, it was just a delightful use of lights and shadows that make the entire sequence an absolute treat for the eyes.

Following the underlying theme of this story, mainly, the impact it has on Bizarro's character, and I simply couldn’t think of a better song to accompany this adventure than the beautiful theme from the 2001 film, A Beautiful Mind: 'All Love Can Be'.

In some ways Bizarro’s new personality is akin to a Shining Star, as it lights up the dark sky that surrounds the lives of both Jason and Artemis, and manages to steer them towards a better future. The question, however, is how long will it last?

Lobdell kicks off this brand new story arc with a big, humongous, bang. A bang so big that it changes the teams status quo and presents us with a question we're not entirely sure how to answer. To this end, he offers us a version of Bizarro unlike any other we have seen before, plus a character portrait that is as much of a compelling protagonist as Jason himself. Definitely a book that deserves to be part of your collection. Thumbs up. Cheesy grin. 

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

RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #14 RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #14 Reviewed by David Andrews on October 10, 2017 Rating: 5

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