RED HOOD: OUTLAW #28 & #29

Hands up everyone who wants to celebrate the New Year with Scott Lobdell, Pete Woods, and Rex Lokus? Go on, raise them up, way, way, way, into the sky, or else you won’t be able to check out the following two-part adventure published by DC Comics in January, 2019.

TO QUOTE Desmond Tutu: “You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.

After hearing about the tragic death of his close, personal friend, Roy Harper, Jason Todd decides to carry out his late partner's final wishes: That being, to track down the Underlife and bring them to justice. But, for him to be able to do this, he has to travel to a nice little town situated within the heart of America, named Appleton, which isn’t exactly what it seems at face value, especially when he gets attacked by a gang of monsters, along with Batwoman, another discarded member of the Bat-Family. Want to know more? Then please pick up issue 28 & 29 of Red Hood: Outlaw today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) ISSUE 28:   Now the only thing worth mentioning about issue 28, would have to be the subtle Grant Morrison reference featured within its opening pages. Well, for those of you not in the know, during the introductory scene, we saw a mysterious figure donning the guise of Wingman, a guise originally created by Grant amidst his epic stint on Batman Incorporated. Which was fun, more or less, particularly since this fact was highlighted in the corresponding caption box, and seemed like the perfect throwback to the self-awareness comic books used to have during the silver age!

Apart from that, though, all in all, the rest of this issue was your basic bog-standard adventure, showing us our hero slowly discovering that the town he’s visiting is hiding a deep, dark, secret. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, it’s just that there isn’t much else to say, since the story is very straightforward from that moment onwards. 

Although, come to think of it, I suppose I should mention the impressive artwork illustrated by Pete Woods. After all, he does add these little references here and there to enrich the overall experience (such as Appleton being based on the famous Hill Valley from the film, 'Back to the Future'), and he also designed some smartly composed panels, made even more notable by the expressive way he drew body language. Minus the way he drew people's faces, though, which I’m still not too fond of due to their mushy quality!

Funnily enough, I can say exactly the same thing about Rex Lokus's color pallet. On the one hand, his hues were fairly sober and clean looking on the page, while, on the other, they did seem very plain as well, especially if you compare them to Woods’ efforts from the previous few issues, where he overemphasized the color red in Jason’s costume to be more vibrant than the rest of the scene. Not here though. No. Unfortunately not!

Part Two) ISSUE 29:   Compared to issue 28, issue 29 is a much more satisfying read because Scott Lobdell moves the plot forward by revealing all of the information we need to know. This ranges from: Can Jason and Kate work together? (Yes. Yes they can) Who on earth made the Mondays? (A clever name coined by Lobdell for this group of discount Grundys) And how is any of this connected with the Underlife? (Read this book to find out).

That said, however, I wasn’t too keen about the pacing of this issue, as it felt rushed and fractured in places. Maybe a little bit too rushed, if truth be told, keeping in mind that this ‘Appleton adventure’ was promoted a lot more than usual in the press, so I was confused when everything concluded as briskly as it did.

Pete Woods, on the other hand, continues to impress us with his lavish looking artwork. Well, not only are his pencils pleasant, tidy, and full of cartoonish charm, but in addition to this, he also gets the chance to show off his fight choreography by composing multiple action scenes guided via Lobdell’s dynamic script. Personally, I’m particularly fond of the way he highlights Jason’s combat skills, doing so by expertly defining every single move he makes (something that hasn’t been done since issue 16).  

Oh, and as for Rex Lokus’s color pallet, yeah, that was also improved upon as well. Although, in this issue, his hues blended in much better with Pete’s art and felt more like a member of the cast instead of a supporting prop. A curious detail I also noticed is that while Jason’s reds continue to be subdued, those present in Batwoman’s costume were more vibrant in comparison. Curious that, hey?

For this month’s musical match-up I’ve decided to select the Tom Petty song, ‘I Won’t Back Down’, because both of these episodes feature a lot of fighting, a lot of shouting, and two heroes who’ve been exiled from the Bat-family (due to their personal beliefs clashing with Batman’s). Petty’s simple lyrics about refusing to back down, no matter what, perfectly describe Jason and Kate’s determination to serve justice under their own terms — Batman be damned. 

I think it’s wise for me to compare these two issues with a couple of Marathon runners; since Jason and Kate are strong, determined, and proud people who will stop at nothing to achieve their ultimate goal. They also have very nice legs too, which I’m sure will help them keep a steady pace, Wink-Wink!

Even though issue 28 was a little underwhelming, it still helped in the development and the setting-up of issue 29. So, with some benefit of hindsight, both books joined together make for one pretty decent book. So go on! What are you waiting for? Christmas? Again? Go and pick up these two today, especially if you’re a fan of either Jason Todd or Kate Kane.

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

RED HOOD: OUTLAW #28 & #29 RED HOOD: OUTLAW #28 & #29 Reviewed by David Andrews on January 14, 2019 Rating: 5

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