Scott Lobdell and Pete Woods have collectively decided that this is a great time to start a new journey. So buckle up, strap yourself in, and get ready for a brand new pilgrimage full of self-discovery, action, and adventure. It's October, 2018, and it's time for the Jason of old to become reborn!

TO QUOTE Joe Torre:Unless you have bad times, you can't appreciate the good times.

Following on from last months spectacular double-whammy, namely, issue 25 and the second annual, and we now find Jason Todd homeless, abandoned, and completely destitute, with the only thing left for him to do is to stick to the promise he made his long-time friend, Roy Harper: Investigate the mysterious comings and goings of the Underlife.

Can he do this though? Can Jason actually track down these foul fiends without any help from a partner or his one-time mentor, Batman? And if he can, who will be there to restrain him from breaking the rules or somebody’s jaw? To find out more, please pick up issue 26 of Red Hood: Outlaw today. In the meantime though, here, let me tell you what I thought of it…

Well, first and foremost, allow me to begin by saying that this issue officially kicks off a new era for Jason Todd, The Solo Outlaw, which sees Scott Lobdell being joined by the artist, Pete Woods, while Dexter Soy and Veronica Gandini move on to a new title, Batman and The Outsiders. Which isn’t a bad thing, that's for sure, because even though the story regresses Jason’s character in both temperament and design, at the same time, we start to realize that this is just another stage in the development of him as a person and as a hero. A development, I hasten to add, which doesn’t discard his previous iterations, but rather, uses them to show us another side to his character that has gone unexplored so far.

Fortunately, this new direction has also given Scott Lobdell the opportunity to reinterpret his deep understanding of Jason’s backstory by offering us both sides of his personality: With one of those sides being his brutal vigilante side, which antagonized the Bat-family before the New 52 begun, while his other side can better be defined as being his smart-alec antihero side, which minimized his use of lethal force and been able to maintain a civil relationship with the Bat-family from that moment onwards.

In terms of plot development, however, there wasn’t much to this introductory episode, unfortunately, because most of it was focused on conveying a slightly generic adventure which eased the readers into Jason's new status quo. What’s more, I wasn’t too keen on Jason's new costume either! After all, for all the attention it received in the weeks leading up to this issue, it was fairly disappointing to see that there wasn’t any in-universe justification for its inclusion, especially since Lobdell found a way to justify Jason using his old New 52 uniform in the annual!

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of the look of this book, that brings me quite nicely onto Pete Woods, the new artist assigned to draw it, who has some massive shoes to fill after Soy and Gandini’s stellar run over the past few years. And has he managed to live up to this task? Well, to be fair, yes and no. Yes, because he’s a genius when it comes down to choreographing fight scenes and pacing panels, particularly in regards to showcasing Jason’s physical prowess (which went a bit unnoticed under Soy’s watch); and no, because I wasn't too keen on the disjointed way Pete renders characters faces (such as Jason’s face, along with his strangely flat haircut) which doesn't do anyone any real favors. Seriously, his art can sometimes look pretty peculiar, despite still being able to appreciate the manga styled quality he imbues his work with.

Funnily enough, the same thing can also be said about his inking style and choice of colors! Overall his colors are noticeably more muted and noir-like than Gandini’s colors, what with the way he offsets Jason's vivid red hoodie in stark contrast to the dark and murky backgrounds. That said, however, on occasion his darker style can sometimes feel at odds with Lobdell’s lighter approach to storytelling. Come to think of it, I am a bit curious as to why Pete has decided to color his blood many different shades and hues, ranging from red, purple, and everything in between! Is this an artistic choice or is it a subtle foreshadowing of things to come? Either way, I’m sure only time will tell if it’ll stick (obvious pun intended).

Despite everything he's had to go through over the past few weeks, what with the fighting, the arguing, and the breaking out of prison, Jason is back, back in action, with a new outlook on life and some new tricks up his sleeve. Therefore, the only song which can accompany his resilient return would have to be the AC/DC classic, “Back in Black”.

Continuing on from this line of thought, and I'd now like to compare this episode to an inmate finally being released from prison, only to then decide to change his ways to fit his new outlook on life.

This is a must-have issue for any die-hard Jason Todd fan because it begins his new life, his new direction, and his new attitude towards his old ways. Trust me, you won’t regret picking up this well-crafted tale, especially since it's a great jump on point for new readers.

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

RED HOOD: OUTLAW #26 RED HOOD: OUTLAW #26 Reviewed by David Andrews on October 23, 2018 Rating: 5

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