RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #15

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[ BATTLING BARGAINS
Sometime in October, 2017, Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, and Veronica Gandini, came together in order to watch an exciting wrestling match between a group of rising superstars and an established team of newcomers. Who won? Who lost? Who decides? Why DC Comics, of course, but only if they agree with the following review. Please enjoy.

TO QUOTE Sun Tzu: Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.

THE REVIEW:
Recently Bizarro's improvements have been so effective for the Outlaws that it's actually resulted in a drop in crime! However, this positive outcome does come with one possible drawback: Batwoman and her team distrust these statistics and try to figure out what the hell is going on, fist first. Around about the same time Bizarro's intellectual regression is starting to plague his mind, and this leads him to take drastic measures in order to avoid being turned into a doughnut. But will he be successful with this and does it somehow reflect in Batwoman's quest? To find out, please pick up issue 15 of Red Hood and The Outlaws today!

Now, to my disappointment, this issue marks the first drop in quality from Scott Lobdell, the writer on this book, because the scenario he presents is a solid one but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully he does manage to spare Jason and his team from any of the flaws featured in his script, although that doesn't take away from any of the flaws he's lavished onto Batwoman’s group.

You see, from my point of view, Lobdell's main pitfall is that he has the protagonists and their guest characters engage in a fight without any solid reason. Yes, I do know that the Outlaws are officially criminals, but since this facet hasn’t been a major element featured within recent months, this explanation felt a little shallow somehow, hollow even. Then you have to consider that Bruce gave his blessing to Jason at the end of the series’ first arc, and in my eyes this makes it harder to believe that he wouldn’t inform his other allies about Jason and his activities. In addition to this, the actions of Batwoman’s team also came off as very one sided, with none of them behaving as you would expect from someone appointed as Batman’s second in command. Honestly, it would’ve been a lot more interesting to see these characters involved in a discussion and talk things out, rather than getting into a pedestrian fight where our titular heroes have to lose so the plot can move forward. 

That said, I can’t avoid comparing how Lobdell has handled guest appearances in the past, particularly Superman’s appearance back in issue 14 of the previous series, since Lobdell once again uses a trick to stop Bizarro previously used by Roy on said issue. While a fight did break out between Superman and the Outlaws, Superman actually tried to talk with them first, and only acted in self-defense when Jason’s distrust got the better of him. Plus, we also had Isabel acting as a representative of the audience, pointing out the insanity of the fight when it turned from a clich√© into a clever subversion.

Unfortunately on this occasion the fight played out was completely straight forward and conventional, leaving most of us with a sequence that didn't please anyone, especially fans of Batwoman’s team, who must have found their characterizations wildly out of sink with their personalities. Outlaws fans must have also found it a very poor showing and generally a lousy attempt at promoting another book. The kicker is, is that there’s many different ways of reaching a similar outcome without the need of a fight or guest characters. 

However, while the script had quite a few issues to contend with, the art, on the other hand, was outstanding as always. Soy took advantage of the situation and rendered Batwoman’s team wonderfully, making each of their designs shine every time they were on screen. The Outlaws also had the chance of being rendered in a very dynamic and vivid fashion, and a great big shout out goes to those fighting sequences which I thought were the best part of the entire book.

Likewise Gandini took advantage of this opportunity so she could also play around with the wider range of colors worn by Batwoman’s team, ranging from Batwing’s blue, Orphan’s Black and Gold, as well as Batwoman’s own shade of red. If nothing else, the upcoming crossover with the Suicide Squad will be a treat to the eyes thanks to Soy and Gandini’s talents.

THE MUSIC:
Given the fact that this issue presents the clashing of ideas between Batwoman’s group (representing the straight and laced society) and the Outlaws (themselves adhered to the idea that you have to bend the rules for the greater good), I think the best song suited for this adventure would have to be Vanderberg’s 'Fighting Against the World'.




THE COMPARISON:
I'm afraid I'm going to have to give a pretty obvious comparison for this months episode, as we have a team of underdog locals going against the more popular foreigners on an artificial feud prompted by the machinations of one of the underdogs. Now, if you've guessed a wrestling match, please, pat yourself on the back, my friend, as you've earned it. 

THE CONCLUSION:
After an impressive 14 issue streak of absolute gold, Lobdell has his first slip with an adventure that feels half baked. It was almost like he tried to cover so much during one episode he actually forgot to make justice an aspect of it's journey. But hey, no biggie, even the best have occasional failures. I’m sure he will learn from this and deliver better work in the future. With that said, the astounding work of Soy and Gandini more than make up for the weaknesses in the script.

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

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