Thursday, November 21, 2013

Red Hood and the Outlaws #25

So here we are as Tynion once again writes a young Jason Todd before he was Robin.

"What Dark Figure Controls the Destiny of Jason Todd?"

Crap...Okay, here we go.


The Who: Jason Todd
Age: 12
The Situation: Jason's dumb friend tries to get him to join the Red Hood gang. Things get weird from there.

You know I was cool with Tynions' opening via Jason's narration until he hit the cliché at the end. How Jasons' scared what he'll become in the dark. It just tries too hard to telecast what the writer's intent is and foreshadows much like hinting at Barbara becoming Oracle in Batgirl year one. But Tynion has to tell us that Jason has a anger problem and it's the same kind of retconning that writers did after his death that always pissed me off. Yes he had a temper but it annoys me when writers treat it any worse than the other Robins and Batman's temper. That he's the problem. Thanks for that, especially when Lobdell had Jason (pre-Robin) always doing his best not to hurt anyone stated in issue #0. While I see Jason as something in the middle of these two extremes it's another example of ignoring the previous material. It's a pet peeve of mine in these short runs. There's also the "stating something and explaining it in unnatural ways" writing that doesn't fit. Chris (remember the guy Jason beat the crap out of in the Batman #0 backup?) expresses shock that Jason threw him across the room when he surprised him. Then asks where he learned that and Jason has to remind Chris that he's the one showing him Ku Fung moves. Who talks like that?

For some reason Chris has to take Jason to see the dead Red Hood members thinking that using their ID would work. Their fucking 12 year olds! The art might not look like it but they are so who would take them seriously?! Tynion even had Kori mention how small Jason was supposed to be as Robin, which was three years after this story! Chris' brilliant idea is to join up with the new big bad that's collecting what's left of the RH gang to get what he wants. So let's see: Jason gets pushed into doing something while weakly protesting and not acting like himself? Yep same song and dance as the other penned Jason Todd stories Tynion does. This time he even has Jason abandon his drugged out mother just because his jackass friend tells him to. Yeah, like he would leave her in that state to risk his life in a city he just told his mom was dangerous because Chris said so. This makes him look like the meekest person ever or like he's not that concerned with his mom and the state of the city. She shouldn't be in this if she's not even mentioned afterward.

While they talk an apparently burned person watches them and smiles. Elsewhere Talia shows up to investigate the Red Hood Gang. Jason sees her fighting a few men and thinks about being "anybody you want to be." He puts on the mask and tells the guys to leave or else face the wrath of the RH gang. Talia gets them to run off then looks over Jason. Seeing now that she's a badass the men attacking her feared enough to leave he asks if she was going to kill them. Talia admits she might of prompting him to attack her. Noticing his fighting style she gives him a tip saying he's using a more showy form and needs to use his whole body. Talia offers to let him go if he tells her about the RH gang. Jason answers by showing what a quick learner he is. This impresses her even though he doesn't have enough weight to actually make the hit hurt.

Talia asks again for intel and Jason thinks she wants to join. Then to add to this insane story he decides he has to show her the location instead of telling her. Otherwise the plot wouldn't work but really why would he do that? He's clearly in over his head and knows his mom is home alone and out of it. In a dangerous place during a desperate time. I just can't get over how none of this fits the character but the pointless doesn't stop there. Jason tells her to call him Red Hood number four--then takes off his fucking mask in the next scene. WHY?! Because he thinks she's cool? He's attracted to her? Those reasons don't make sense anyway because he knows she can potentially kill people! You know, the reason he attacked her in the first place?!

Anyone that's read this run has seen the scene where Jason explains to Roy about the light/darkness. Talia tries to do that before grumbling her frustrations out loud and cursing Ducra. This prompts questions and Talia gives the standard speech about her soul being too dark to properly do the All Caste training justice. More destiny crap is hinted at because Jason is apparently the one that's worthy. So no one else has done this? Pretty sure they have just not in many years. He takes her to the meeting and Talia knocks him out to save his life.

The smiling burnt guy is obviously the Joker, he tries to attack Jason with a crowbar (GET IT?!) Talia tries to use her move on the guy in charge of the gang. It doesn't work and Jason does it retconning a way to take the Untitled's powers away. That's right, Jason's able to hit the immortality out of the formerly threatening ancient evil. Chris leaves with them as Joker burns the other RHs. Jason is apparently cool with the killing as he doesn't react after they escape and oh-so-ironically says he'll never be a Red Hood. (Groan) Since he decided to tell Talia his name she decides to keep tabs on him but he didn't know who she was. 

Overall : This wasn't as bad as the last few issues but it still needed to edit a lot from the plot. Really it would have worked if the story just focused on Jason running into the Red Hood gang and Joker trying to kill them/him. But those bits are hardly in this and there's just too much going on. I will say that one of the things I think Tynion improved upon over Lobdell was setting up Jason as someone that already had some idea of martial arts. The first version of the crime alley raised Jason Todd was able to protect himself from bigger men when he was just a little thing. Lobdell's origin issue made it sound like Jason didn't have an idea of how to fight. Granted it was told from Jason's POV with little room to work with to expand in detail but it made him seem like the Robin with the least experience.

The black out/storm set up is a goldmine for stories but I have to say that only Batgirl really used the set up to it's fullest potential. In this and Nightwing it almost seems like the city is abandoned except for the main characters, their cast and the villains. Really there's nothing about the storm or blackout that really affects the story even if Jason mentions losing it when someone tried to steal supplies, it's never actually shown. Jason was more likable than Dick was but he's still written in the standard gullible Tynion way. He's incredibly naïve, easily manipulated, and often comes off dumb. I mean listening to Chris then trusting Talia when he has no reason to? Of course Tynion seems to have completely abandoned most of the character traits like Jason being spunky, resourceful, witty, smart, tough, and having good morals. Yes the old Jason stole but he didn't want to be tangled up in this crap and went out of his way to keep out of it. At least this version is more conflicted than coming off like a complete moron (ie. the Batman #0 backup.)

While I'm fond of Jeremy Hauns' work from Red Hood Lost Days I didn't like how much he aged Jason up. I know Haun can make Jason look younger because he did it before. The character looks 16 here when he's supposed to be 12. (Talia even mentions him having to be 12/13 and doesn't believe him when he tries to say he's older.) Dick looks younger than this in his tie in. The only reason I can think of is this being intentional to make the Talia/Jason hints less creepy but I'll go over that soon enough.

Normally I'd be irked that another bat kid can suddenly pick up moves shortly after witnessing it. That was a Cass trait after all but Jason gets more leeway than Dick simply because I remember Bruce saying more than once that Jason was a fast learner. It's still ridiculous that he'd get Talia's meaning about embracing the light after just hanging out with her for awhile. Plus the mystic angle is getting seriously abused since Jason never had actual power before Tynion came along. There's a line with bats and while Lobdell flirted with it he never went through it like this.

Chris was a pointless character and just like his other appearance was only used to force Jason into a situation he never would have gone into otherwise. Why did Jason stay friends with such a obvious manipulative bastard? The guy always gets him into things he hates and hit him! It's like the writer doesn't think anyone can sympathize with Jason so he makes him as meek and clueless as he can and has other people control him as often as possible.

You know how I finally voiced my thoughts on Tynion not reading Lobdell's run? Well I kinda feel that way about him not reading about Jason in general because he rarely hits the mark. There were a few Jason like moments in this. But most of the time he's pretty useless with little to no personality and it feels like Tynion uses the character as little as possible. Like he prefers writing about Roy and the assassins. He certainly likes pandering to the New Teen Titans fans. The only thing he seems to be teasing with Jason is the pre-relaunch pairing with Talia and him. Much like Cheshire and Roy he managed to make it even more uncomfortable.

I'll say the positives first, I like that Talia isn't all evil like Morrison wrote her. I like that there's a kind of sweet bond with Jason. But what makes this worse than the "Joker might have created Robin 2" is twofold. First Talia has met and become obsessed with Jason before either of them ever met Batman. That should NEVER be the case. It makes Bruce secondary especially when point number two comes up. That's the fact she met Jason when he was 12 and a few years later (hinted at with the memory bubble in #20) sleeps with him. The idea of her considering him in that light is very unsettling. The hints are here as Jason comments that he thinks she's exceptional (possible crush or awe) Chris calls her Jason's girlfriend and the kiss to his forehead when she leaves. Not much but I just get that vibe, you know? And like always there are FAR too many questions raised by them meeting at this juncture.

I also don't get Jasons' motivation after he goes to "save her" then attacks her after finding out she might have murdered people. She even chops off someone's head in this right in front of him. Why was he helping her? Why wasn't he freaked out by her and decides to tell her his name? How does he know he can trust her? Does this mean Talia helped him become Robin? If they kept an eye on him then how was he able to get beaten up before Bruce found him?

Now for another thing that doesn't make sense. The Untitled member trying to reform the RH gang to cause trouble. That's all a being of great power would do? Plus, like I said before there are only nine Untitled. Under Lobdell three died (Ducra, the cop Jason killed, and the one Essence killed.) Jason sure as hell acted like the cop he fought as the first he (knowingly) met. He felt excited because he knew he was finally ready to fight one. And what was the other detail? Oh yeah. THE UNTITLED UPHELD THE TRUCE WITH THE ALL CASTE UNTIL ISSUE #1! They couldn't do shit because the All Caste would hunt them down. I swear every issue finds a new way to make less sense and throw away more canon.

Did you Notice? Catherine Todd suddenly has black hair despite the zero issue going out of it's way to show and state she has red hair.

Say What?: Chris comments that Jason's not nearly as tough as his dad. Uh Willis Todd was shown to be a coward. Yeah he was a thug but he was basically one of those random henchmen type that Batman beats up.

This isn't so much about Tynion's writing but what Talia states about weight/fighting and how it doesn't seem to apply to Damian. That always bothered me.

Talia acts like Ducra taught her but Jason was the first human to be trained in hundreds of years. This was stated a few times because it was a big deal.

Questions Raised?: Jason never got her name so presumably he doesn't remember her being the woman that he met, otherwise it would have been mentioned to Bruce. If he doesn't remember this event at the moment then how the hell is he supposed to repeat it since he learned it from Talia?!

How did Ducra lose her Untitled state? Use it on herself?

Wasn't a huge deal made over the Well of Sins? Why didn't anyone let Jason keep his memories to do this move? Talia knew the move and did it. While it didn't work with her it wasn't like the Untitled knew. He didn't stop her or Jason when he tried. I would have rather seen him fight all the Untitled than the lackluster Well of Sins fight.

Why is copper important if it's just retconned anyway?

Why the hell was he able to draw swords out of his body and how do they do anything?

Why would Talia try to stop the Untitled when her father claims that he planned to deal with them in his own way for hundreds of years? Did she not tell him the details of how Jason could defeat the Untitled? Not only is Tynion retconning Lobdell he's doing it to himself!

So even though Jason tells Chris he'll just be himself and never be a Red Hood he was still okay with them wearing red ski masks and robbing a store? Some consistency would be nice especially from someone who wrote both stories.

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