Thursday, May 30, 2013

Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #1

This is the third part of the "Jason loses his memories" arc. It also has snapshots of Roys' life prior to the Outlaws with Ollie. Oh and another link to his preboot past shows up.


I enjoyed this issue more than last mainly because Roys' personality made it more fun. He's the one character from RHATO I think Tynion gets just right. The previously mentioned tech abilities are show here with Roys' amusing "Roy-bots" that say funny things as their attacking. This annual is part of the main RHATO arc but it's also the long awaited backstory for Roy Harper in the new 52. Well sort of, not many questions are actually answered. Green Arrow #0 had Ollie and Roy meeting for the first time. Ollie offered him a job building things for him. That's followed up but to his frustration his efforts seem to be pointless since Green Arrow isn't using all his inventions in the field. He's not allowing Roy to come with him either and isn't thrilled to see Roys' been drinking. Hugo Strange acted as his shrink telling him that trust was important. Something that's playing a big part in present events since he admits to what he assumes is a sleeping Kori that things have been bad since their not being honest with each other.

While Roy was never "Speedy" in name (as alluded to with his comment to Bart during the DOTF tie ins) he dressed up in a updated version only to be turned down. I think Tynion is saying that he was never Ollies' partner in the field but that kind of contradicts what was already said. In #1 Jason refers to them both as sidekicks. Roy mentioned passing out drunk on a "green" friend only to wake up to realize that friend was beaten up because he wasn't there to help him. Plus Roy was seen working with Dick in uniform and in #20 their past friendship is mentioned. So not a lot is really explained with that part and at present Roys' problems seem to be downplayed from what was implied in past issues. Given the set up I think we'll see that soon enough.

Ollie comes off as much less of a jerk here than he was preboot. It might help that he isn't acting as Roys' father but rather a big brother figure. It's hinted at there being more to their friction than what's shown and that Hugo Strange might have made things worse between them by planting seeds of doubt. On the one hand Ollie acted far more responsible and caring towards Roy during his fall into depression than the "junkie" version. Although it's been said that he screwed Roy out of his share of Q stock he seemed concerned for his safety. Not wanting him to endanger himself in the field and worried over how much he drank. (Although Roy would have been underage back then, something neither writer of this series or Ollie address.) There's real fear on his part that something might happen to Roy and he does seem willing to try to make amends. Even impressed with how much his tech partner grew. On the other hand Ollie is a idiot. I don't mean that in the same context as the usual crap the character did preboot. I mean that he can't seem to do anything right in terms of thinking logically.

He hears that there's a bounty on the Outlaws heads and he tracks them down to warn them. Only the whole thing was a ruse so that they could follow him to the island to capture Jason. In the fight he doesn't really do much and his not-sidekick looks far more impressive. There's a irony to Ollie working for the government while Roy's the outlaw. Things used to be flipped the other way. I'm not sure I like Steve Trevor being connected to this. Okay so Ollie knew where the island was because Superman went there once and they've been spying on him. Ignoring the fact this puts FAR too much spotlight on a bat kid that hasn't aged much since he was adopted as Waynes' heir, Steve thinks Ollie wanted to bring them in? Why would he think that when Ollie reminds him that they already have a deal that he'll leave the three of them alone? Or more pressing why would Steve want to go after them in the first place when Batman already vouched for them? Superman mentioned it when he visited so one would assume Steve would know that and know he shouldn't piss off the bat. Putting them in prison would do that and hardly keep them safe if they did have a bounty on their heads.

Cheshire was entertaining and pandering at the same time. Lots of fanservice art and hitting on Roy. Much as I love Lian I never cared one way or another about her mom. Although the potential break up between Kori and Roy, woe with something that happened with Dick, and the flirting Jade does seem to give certain fans hope for Lian I'm not sure it would work. She's introduced as someone that poisons Kori to the point Roy fears she might die and tries to take Jason away. Given how much he loves those two the idea of him hooking up with Jade seems odd. Oh and the fact she comes off as a potential rapist and/or general psycho. Talking about ripping off his arms, using him as a poison test rat and pondering a cage to set up for him to be her pet. Needless to say I have a hard time seeing Lian being born unless it's by much darker means. 0_0

For some reason she teleports, likely for the whole "Cheshire Cat" act. I don't like it because it takes away her being a physical threat to give her a easy excuse for being able to escape so many heroes. I won't mind so much if it was a one time thing that she used to get off the island.

I don't know what to think of Kori since I still find it weird that she lied and Roy didn't pick up on it in this version. The only parts I really liked with her was her talk with Jason, trying to explain herself to "Roy", and then her moment of awesome when she stops Cheshire from poisoning him. I miss her strong commanding presence and the confidence she had. Yeah it's still early in this run but still, I really hated it when she pined for Dick. This reminds me too much of that.

Jason doesn't seem like any version I've read under any other author. I don't mean the "blank slate" version but rather the one with memories. I think the only time he felt right was when he spoke to his attackers in #19 and maybe a little of his Robin scene in #20. (He was a little too open there.) Still the new version does have some problems mainly in terms of storytelling. In #20 Jason told Roy he wanted nothing more than to be happy without his memories. That he wanted to leave it all behind to start over. Now he suddenly has to know his past. This isn't shown but rather told via his thought boxes. There's no lingering distrust from Roy trying to force memories on him then knocking him out. Just shock and anger over them stretching the truth off panel. Once again it has this sense of rushing through or that I'm missing important moments. He was able to decapitate a monster in #19 yet he doesn't seem able to fight here? Even though he does the extremely risky move of attaching himself to Ollies' shuttle as it's flying away? Worse he just stands around helplessly while Cheshire's fighting them. He doesn't even try to defend himself or help the others she would have killed.

Basically he does nothing but groan over his memories and being a killer this whole arc. This is something that's a lot more blunt than what Lobdell wrote with Jasons' feelings on killing. He admitted that he didn't like doing it and offered some of the bad guys a way out. He felt for people like Suzie Su and Talon Xiao Loong . That page of Xiao and Jason talking about ending Xiaos' life didn't have Jason saying much but it's one of my favorite Jason Todd pages. So much about the character is said with very few words and yet there's still a lot unsaid in the silent panels. From what I've read three issue in, which I assume is the middle of the arc, this seems like a way of showing Jason he needs to change. Except he already had these thoughts so why retread via mind wipe? I was interested when Tynion said he was going to build off of what Lobdell did but I assumed he was going to work off of Jasons' coma dream of becoming something he hates and trying to change. This isn't as subtle. There's also the talk about destiny that's already giving me warning signs.

Jason was upset that he was manipulated by Joker, right? Prior to DOTF he was manipulated by Essence into tracking down the Untitled, recently he was by Bruce and now the All Caste trio are pulling the Outlaws strings. Then we have the LOA with Cheshire of all people talking about destiny. Which runs dangerously close to making him a puppet for most of his life and taking away his responsibilities for his actions. Because if he was destined for whatever she's talking about then his past actions don't matter because he had no choice. Everything was predestined. I think Tynion is going to play the free will card but like I said it's a risky path. I do get the vibe that Jason is some chosen one which--at present--doesn't gel well with past issues. For example Ras supported Talia putting him into the pit for unknown reasons but she had no idea why. Now she seems to have been plotting something.

I'm calling it now, the reason they want Jason either has to do with his destiny to kill something or the fact he came back from the dead is something Ras wants to use.

I've read other comments that it feels like Tynion is playing to the preboot crowd. There's a lot of "old school" things that makes the book take too many steps backwards. Something that's vastly different from the moving forward and living in the moment mind frame. Not to say certain things in the leads past shouldn't be mentioned but I preferred the slow reveals and build up to the sudden rush of nostalgia.

In the two previous issues of this arc we got a lot of this. Roy met Jason as Robin on a night that so happens to have been the one he discovered his mom was alive, which led to his death. We also confirmed that yes Dick was Roys' friend. There's a potential break up between Kori and Roy which conveniently happens right before Roy meets Chershire and Kori seems to be defined by her past with Dick again. Also a hint that Talia might have slept with Jason. Many of these are unneeded and actually took away my enjoyment in some of the better moments. Chershire, Dick dating Kori, the crap with Talia--those are reminders of things I wanted to get away from in the relaunch. The Talia thing did nothing for either character and was the worst part of Lost Days. To be honest I'm rather surprised Tynion included the panel in RHATO #20 since nothing else has to do with the mini and Jason doesn't even act like Winicks' version. Not even in the flashbacks. Lost Days couldn't have happened like that anymore so why keep that scene?

Yeah this is just me trying to piece together this storyline and where it's going. This was the best out of the three issues Tynion has done but I'm still unsure of the direction or how well it meshes.

Did You Notice?:

Jason doesn't have his jacket, it shows that he has no shoulder bats on his uniform. I liked them, it was a nice design element.

In Green Arrow #0 Ollie wasn't the one to meet Roy at his cell in jail. He also had a different uniform when he was working with Dick so the fight page with Ollie confused me for a moment. Of course no artists besides Rocofort like drawing the retro costumes between the current ones and the sidekick versions. Kori didn't have her old outfit in #20.

Roy calls Green Arrows' lair the Arrow Cave although Ollie claims it was never called that.

Cheshire steals Roys' hat making her look a little like her Young Justice counterpart.

Questions Raised?:

Robo-ninja fighting style? Like that episode of Angel in season 5 ?

Neither Kori or Roy have told him the whole truth yet Roy (who tapped Jasons' phone during DOTF because he was concerned) never bothered to limit Jasons' access to his own information? 83 Kills accounted for? From his time with his friends like the pictures imply? That the public knows about? No, there's more than that because Jason got rid of at least four gangs including one ran by the infamous Suzie Su. I find it very hard to believe she didn't make it known. Roy definitely knew about all that. Also, Jason didn't see or hear any of the memories S'aru showed his friends? He heard the arguing but tuned out the parts about him going too far, etc? For that matter how does he know he's a international criminal? He may sense something's off but he didn't know. Why not simply ask for all information on Red Hood? Sure there was more than one but he doesn't know that.

If the bounty is a ruse what were they going to do if neither Ollie or anyone else connected to the group tracked them down? What if no one else knew where they were? If Jasons' as important as they make him out to be then why haven't they done this sooner? Why didn't they know Superman stopped there? For that matter how were they going to ensure no one else tried to kill Jason before they found him? Robo-Ninja got there but more professional assassins could have done it first.

Cheshire: Eesh...You're still as pale as ever. (While ripping Jasons' shirt off to attempt to poison him.) I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. Is Tynion implying that they were "together"? She hasn't flirted like she has with Roy, I assumed she saw him more as a kid. Huh.

How far does Bruce have his head up his own rear if he doesn't react to there being a bounty on Jasons' head? Especially since it involves the League of Assassins, the group that Talia and Ras are tied to? He got Jason to go with him to beat up the assassins that went after Damian but this isn't even a blip on his radar?

How does Ollie know Jasons' a bat kid? He doesn't know who Batman is, right? Yeah Jason has a bat on his uniform and he'd likely think he's part of Batman Inc. But how does he know he's young enough for him to refer to him as kid?

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