Part 1 of the 4 part Death of the Family crossover between Red Hood and the Outlaws and Teen Titans. SPOILERS AHEAD
Artwise this is the best Green has done on this book since he came aboard. I truly enjoyed most of it but there are still some problems. First there's the odd posing he does for Kori. Yes Rocofort had trouble with this half the time but this is a different sort of problem. With Rocofort it was usually the arching of the backs which made some of the women he drew look like they were trying to show off their bodies in weird situations like fighting. I will say there were only three panels that truly bothered me in this. Two with Kori apparently leading with her boobs and one where she's standing awkwardly. I think the standing one bugged me more because it's impossible to do. Try standing with your knees touching side by side then cross your ankles. That's as near as I can guess to what Kori is doing.
But there's also a serious lack of detail. With the blank backrounds which would look better with spray painted images on the walls in the Joker scenes. Tech or personal items inside the ships' bedroom. It's also kind of weird to see Kori and Roy suddenly with the Titans, on what I assume is a penthouse, when they were on another building a page before. Even things in the character designs aren't there. Jasons' helmet is still missing the nose and mouth. Something that will be especially glaring with Brett Booths issues since he sticks to the character sheets. Even Roys' tattoos seem to be fading away in some panels! And why is Kori back in the purple outfit when they said the new one was the one she wore during the space arc? If Booth has her wearing that one the bat books need a new editor stat.
Outlaws (Kori/Roy) section:
Roy Harper fans have a couple things to cheer about. Not only has his expanded tech savvy returned (with alien tech no less) he says hi to Kori in Navajo. While I generally enjoy this take of Kori I have to admit I think it's a little hard to read if she's joking or not when she says she only wanted to sleep with him to shut him up before they got to know each other. I mean she's saying this just before she tells him how much she likes seeing the tech side of him so she's likely poking fun at him. It's just a little strange. I do like how happy Kori is that she's no longer alone on the island she exiled herself to and how loving these two are.
The next cut to them is interesting as it's revealed that Roy used the ships' tech to patch into the messages on Jasons' phone to listen to the important ones. They over hear Harveys' message in bed stopping them from getting much further when Roy tells Kori what he did. Kori thinks that's a little extreme and asks if he monitors her like that. Embarrassed Roy asks if they can discuss it later.
Off course neither one knows where Jason currently is but thanks to the ship picking up another call between Wonder Girl and Batgirl they know another crisis in progress. They arrive as the Titans are fighting what appears to be clowns? (only one is clearly seen) and promises if they all listen to the "big kids" their live through this.
Jason vs. Joker:
There are problems in this but I'm not sure how well the communication between books is going so on it's own it's pretty good. Looking back at Snyders' Joker there's a few moments that don't work for me with the Joker explaining too much, repeating things and well the way he seems to be hissing his "s"s all the time. Joker tries to tell jokes (some of them are funnier than others) and at times feels truly creepy. I'd have to say the scariest he's been under Snyder, for me, is when he's flirting/obsessed with Batman. That sort of thing gets expanded on a in way I like more than the constant killing. It's more--I don't want to say intimate--but well, personal this way.
I have to say that from what I've seen/heard so far from other books this is the least gory Joker of the bunch. Strangely enough this was also the case for the Night of the Owls crossover. It's still early in this four-parter but except for trying to kill Isabel with a forced OD. he only directly attacks Jason in this issue. No deaths. One of the things I love about this is that it doesn't go overboard with the killings, that it works because it's Joker trying to screw with Jasons' mind. It's Joker suggesting what he said in RHATO #0, that he was there the whole time grooming an unknowing Jason to be Robin.
Setting up a narrow maze of memories Jason has to go through while talking to him over the speakers. The personal touches of referring to Jason as "boy", "son" and how attached he seems to be with him is very unsettling. There's a lot of meta things which I love. Jasons' bat issues, being angry with Bruce and trying to warn the others even as he thinks how they never tried to do anything for him. As he's attempting to do this Joker knocks him out with gas while saying "so predictable." He knew Jasons' first act once Isabel was safe was to help the others. His compassion is brought up again as Joker says one has to wonder how he got his "pathological need to make things right." I especially found this phrasing interesting since the last three words are the ones Roy used when he was giving insight on Jason in #4. This is a part of the character many writers have overlooked with Jason. Yes Joker still labels Jason the much abused title of the "angry one" but it doesn't gloss over why he was frustrated.
As much as I enjoy Winicks' Jason it wasn't without it's faults. No, I'm not saying Lobdell is perfect, that the title is without flaws but I can't recall Winick ever truly exploring the character past the surface. Which is to say he didn't use much of his story outside his Batman connections only briefly mentioning things like his time on the streets. But Lobdell is using the history of his moms' drug use, his fathers' life of crime and even brings back past canon like saving Superman (mentioned last issue) and the friendship he had (as Robin) with Harvey Bullock. The point is Jason has every reason to be upset but he was still caring. It's something the Joker admits as he ponders out loud if he lost his compassion when he died or if he only brings it out every once in awhile. It's a nice distortion of how Kori sees it when she thinks how horrible Gotham is and her shock that someone as warm as Jason grew up there.
More telling is early on in their face to face when Joker tries to freak Jason out by handcuffing him, injecting him with a paralytic toxin and breaking out the crowbar. Jason knows the helmet Joker is using said crowbar on is one of his meaning Joker knows where his stuff is. Green really shines in the panel showing Jasons' sad and somewhat lost expression as this is going on. It's not because he's worried about his fate. No, Jasons' thoughts reveal that he's more worried about the others not mentioning himself once as he lists their names when thinking about Joker taking things too far. Not that he should be worried since his training with the All Caste made it possible for him to overcome the toxin. He proceeds to repeatedly kick Joker in the face and prepares to kill him. Only Joker knew he'd pick up the crowbar. The whole thing is a mind game, one that's twisted further because Joker might not be sure how much is true.
Jason holds it together remarkable well refusing to let any of it get to him. At one point he insists Joker prove he knows by saying his real name. Really this was a good read, Jason and Joker are always interesting together. This had some of the elements of Jokers' obsession with Batman as he seems to be impressed and oddly fond of Jason. I look forward to seeing how this plays out with Tim getting involved.
Did You Notice?:
The return of Jasons' red domino mask.
On Isabels' phone Jason is listed as J/First Class. It sounds like airline humor to me. Like Isabel thinking "well his name is Jason & he was in first class but he could be a jerk so..."
Kori and Roy are in the same beach wear they wore in the first issue.
The panel where Isabel is being wheeled away. Not only does her body look REALLY small but what is up with those cops? I'm not talking about Bullock and co. I mean the ones by the police car (which I assume isn't the one Jason tries to steal because no one gives it a second glance. But look at the two cops sitting down next to it with scattered beer cans (is that a fish?) all around. If their the ones Jason beat up their missing their protective gear. Either the Joker got them (which should have made Bullock react) or their usually drunk. Either way it doesn't look good for the GCPD.
Questions raised?: Is this going to be a big plotline or just a throw away line to explain how they know Jason is in trouble? I could see Jason getting very pissed off since he lowered his guard enough to trust Roy and the guy pulls off a very Batman like move to keep tabs on him.
Kori doesn't know who the Joker is? Not a huge shock. It's still unclear how much she recalls of Dick but even if she did it doesn't mean they talked about him. Although Jason told Kori "everything" he may of glossed over things. He might have just stated one of Batmans' enemies killed him and left it at that.
How the hell does DOTF fit into this? I don't mean the stuff going on in this book but rather how Batman #15 works into the RHATO timeline. Jason didn't have anytime to talk to the family in the title. They were in space, had a clash with Superman when they returned to Earth and then Isabel asked to go home. Kori and Roy are even amused to see she lives there. It would have worked better to have said the meeting in Batman #15 happened after Jason escaped the police then have the Joker come after him more directly. Barbara and Dick mentioned people they knew who were targeted. Of course it doesn't go that way and it raises a lot of questions of when any of that stuff in Batman actually happened.
Like Dick, Jason was one of the more outspoken members of the bats that pointed out the flaws in Bruces' thinking. He seemed to be on the side of "we're not safe, he knows" way of thinking. Now he thinks to himself it was a mistake to believe Bruce. I mean I could see him believing Bruce but not being willing to admit it but it doesn't really work for those scenes. I can't really see Jason deciding to hang out with his girlfriend--in GOTHAM--if he knows it's possible.