It's time to sit back, relax, and look at the events which have transpired over the last year. In doing so, however, you will notice how Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, and Veronica Gandini have each decided to craft an introspective story where the past shape's a more positive future. It's January, 2018, and it's time for Red Hood and the Outlaws in review.

TO QUOTE Joseph Parry: 'Make new friends, but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold'.

Issue 17 pick's up immediately after the last issue left off, with both teams, the Outlaws and the Suicide Squad, arriving at the Arctic and getting ready for a mission where they have to find and shut down Harvest’s Colony before its malfunctioning core destroys the earth.

Much to the Squad’s chagrin, Bizarro assumes the role of field commander and aptly divides the group into three separate teams: with Jason and Killer Croc being on one team, Artemis and Harley being on another, and Bizarro, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang making up the last team in the group; with the hope that they can cover as much terrain and find the core as soon as possible.

And do they find it? The core I mean. And if they do, what dangers will they have to face hidden deep within the Colony?  Well, if you want to know the answer to these questions, dear reader, you're going to have to go to your local comic shop and pick up a copy of this great issue today! But before you do that, let me just say that I’ve previously been pretty vocal about my problems with this current story-line, entitled 'Bizarro Reborn',  and I was very happy to find out that some of these problems were addressed in this very episode, with Lobdell himself producing the excellent character work he's more commonly known for.

The standouts to me are those scenes featuring Jason and Killer Croc, which once again proves that Lobdell has the perfect understanding of these characters motives and flaws. Croc appears to be a level headed and surprisingly insightful person who can cut through Jason’s façade and offer him the advice he so desperately needs. Jason, on the other hand, exhibits the development he has earned through the series and is unable to hide his concern over the whereabouts of his best-friend, going so far as to take the chance to ask Croc about Roy's status.  I also have to give props to Lobdell for a well-deserved dig at Roy’s very questionable handling in the Titans book.

Unfortunately there’s still not much to say about the roles Artemis and Bizarro play in this issue. The role Artemis has feel's like pure filler simply because she doesn’t offer much insight about her stance on this mission, whereas those scenes featuring Bizarro come across as a plot device with no real characterization to speak of beyond being more set up for the rest of the arc. That said, however, it was another pleasant surprise to see Lobdell acknowledge the N52s version of Kon-El, whom simply vanished into the publishing limbo at the tail end of DC You.

Thankfully Soy and Gandini closes 2017 with another beautifully illustrated episode. Lobdell’s script has allowed them both to flex their artistic muscles so they can produce some breath-taking backgrounds, visuals, and set pieces, with the hope that future stories keep the Outlaws out of a city landscape because it can limit the art team’s creativity. Having said that, though, my favorite page in the entire book is the one where Jason and Croc come across the once dreaded Harvest, as you can clearly see that his apparition is something out of a classical painting. Honestly, this image is so beautiful and so breath taking that I'm happy that Soy and Gandini are going to have a well-deserved break for the next two issues.

While reading that touching scene where Jason and Croc showed some concern towards their mutual friend, Roy Harper, AKA Arsenal, I couldn't help but think about his current social circle, mainly how it can be more harmful to him than helpful. This then made me think about a song, a song composed by Pink Floyd called 'Wish You Were Here', especially its melancholic lyrics with the singer longing for the company of a missing loved one.

Continuing this same train of thought (please excuse the obvious pun) and I found an apt comparison to go along with this story to be an analogy for a railway. Sometimes on the route of life we get the opportunity to travel in the company of someone else, but sooner or later we’re always forced to go our separate ways -- just like the railways do to trains all across the world.

Issue 17 is by far the best issue to come out from the current Bizarro Reborn story-line, as it solves some of the plot holes found in some of the previous issues, while giving us a beautiful show of grow for our titular hero. However, the most interesting aspect about this book is that, for all intents and purposes, it's a love letter crafted by Lobdell towards his N52 work. This in itself is a gesture that is more than appreciated on an industry that's normally prone to sweep under the rug previous stories when they don’t fit their vision anymore. For all of this, issue 17 is a must have for any fan of superhero stories.

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

RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #17 RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #17 Reviewed by David Andrews on January 09, 2018 Rating: 5

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