Saturday, February 8, 2014

Red Hood and the Outlaws #27

While this is thankfully the last issue of this tedious arc there's still one more issue that Tynion writes after this.

SPOILERS AHEAD


Flashback to Jason meeting with S'aru and Ducra because she apparently "summoned" him. How? Who knows, we never see it I can only assume it's connected to the dream in Lobdells' last issue that had nothing to do with this. Ducra tells him that he has a destiny to fulfill and more retcons. The Untitled were previously the biggest threat but no, Ra's Al Ghul taking "command" of them is what apparently makes this a big deal. She talks about him shattering a truce but didn't Ra's already do that if he was the one that led the Untitled to slaughter the All Caste? She points out that Jason did the Deus ex machine before then gives some spiel about the current darkness in Jason.

Tynion finally addresses Lobdells' last issue and the events of Batman and Red Hood #20. Very briefly. This would have made far more sense if this was brought into the plot sooner and comes off as an afterthought. Especially since Jason doesn't seem outwardly affected by those things. Ducra doesn't trust that he can overcome this darkness inside of him thanks to these events which is a huge change from the woman that, as Jason put it, "had faith in me long after I had none of my own." This also goes against what she's been teaching him in Tynions' own run about being able to overcome the darkness. She should be able to trust him but she doesn't. If he didn't hold to those beliefs he couldn't make his way to the Acres of All and couldn't have been the "remarkable" person to do the super move in the first place. The reasoning doesn't fit and comes as a slap in the face.

This is without a doubt the most contrived thing I've read in awhile. It lacks all sense and doesn't explain any of the character actions in a satisfying way. Ducra a self proclaimed expert planner really wanted to strip Jason of all memory to put all their fates in the hope he'd act on some instincts to save the day. Oh and doesn't tell his friends because, uh, destiny says he should do it alone. The clich├ęs continue as she says that she can't tell Jason her plans for Essence yet. Why even tell him you have plans then?! So they take his memories even though he just said he'd do whatever it takes to save the world but didn't agree per se after they decided to exclude his friends. Which makes S'aru and Ducra jackasses again. As S'aru takes his memories she adds in the fine print about Jason dying if he defeats Ra's with his memories. Which we'll see is bullshit.

"You show none of the cunning of your mentor"

...I'm not going to say it but I could.

Anyway Ra's fights Jason mocking him for not being Batman. He might as well be fighting the Scarecrow because that's basically what happens complete with Jason telling everyone out loud what he sees. You know I would have liked for this to be them arguing about morals, maybe Ra's telling him that their not so different. That his way is better than Batman's, it's more in character and would make for a good scene between the two. After the Joker bit it's a repeat of last issue with Ra's expecting to hear Jason beg for mercy when, surprise, that's not what he plans. The nonsensical swords Jason took from his chest with no explanation become--sais for no explained reason! Seriously what the fuck is going on with that? Jason didn't have magic before Tynion came along and he gives no reason for it here.

Ra's sees his own *sigh* demons making for a pretty predictable reveal of Talia. Cheshire shows up for her cameo to save Roy then teleport out. More fighting between Jason and Ra's with more by the
numbers dialogue about inner darkness. I wouldn't have mind so much if Jason had a more sarcastic attitude with him but this continues to feel very blah. I wish Tynion would also make up his mind on how badass the characters are. He managed to write Jason as the weakest character through most of this arc then has him knock out Shiva. Now he has Jason say he'd never be able to defeat Ra's unless something was wrong. I'd say defeating Ra's was more likely than defeating Shiva. But Jason wins because of Carebear love with his friends. Which wouldn't have been bad if it was written better as the only good thing I can say about this speech is Jason saying he's sure as hell not strong because of Batman. So he some how makes his own "demons" into Kori and Roy which really looks and sounds cheesy with the truly bad dialogue.

Jason does the move Talia taught him depowering Ra's and unintentionally giving Essence all the power. Ducra says it was part of the plan which she never bothered to inform her daughter of. Yes because she was right about Jason dying if he fought with his memories--oh wait. No, no she wasn't. Didn't she kick Essence out of the All Caste for refusing to give up her powers? NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE! What about the power Essence mentioned gaining and losing when she talked to Kori? Why is none of this ever made clear or connected?! Was he rewriting as he went?

Ra's is furious that he lost his power and once again Tynion makes Jason a pushover. Nice consistency. Essence shows up to repeat the white Raven concept threatening to destroy all the pits if he doesn't let the trio go. He does but promises to seriously put the hurt on Jason if he sees him again. They leave and Essence says she suddenly decided to rebuild the All Caste. She offers Jason a chance to join which he declines much to Roys' relief. As the trio walk off Jason makes some out of character comments then the standard "we're going to change our mission statement" talk.


Overall: This arc is without a doubt the worst thing I've read in a very long time. I am so very glad that Tynion will be off soon. That and the RHATO action figures are the best news these characters
had in some time. There were a couple good moments and issues that were better than others but none of it was worth this. I gave it a chance, I tried to be patient but it was a mess.

I know in a lot of my reviews talk about Tynion not using previous canon in his story. This isn't just ranting for continuity sake. I wouldn't be so annoyed if this was something from fifty years ago he changed. Yes it's bothersome because this series isn't that old and the Untitled only appeared in this series. (*1) I'm just as irked over Geoff Johns throwing away all of Jurgens JLI run in the JLI annual. It feels disrespectful and basically tells you that you wasted your money. Tynion kept the most barebones parts for the Outlaws tale but he hasn't improved on the story he made it weaker. While what Lobdell wrote wasn't fleshed out much what was revealed was pretty damn intriguing. This ancient evil that hid among normal people and rose in rank to gain control over humans. They could have been anyone and had frightening amount of power like Lex Luthor. Tynion does another more horror based series which is one of the many reasons seeing his portrayal is surprising.

Another is because he wrote Talon, a series that goes into depth of the workings of the Court of Owls. A old secret society that rules Gotham from the shadows long before Batman came around. Ra's Al Ghul likewise is shown to be a master of deception. The Untitled should be the best at this game and a hell of a lot smarter than most people. The cop Jason fought in #5 admitted she wasn't like the rest because she didn't care about ruling humans meaning she was the exceptation to the rule. Essence's
"uncle" in her back up story shows him taking charge and going straight for a weapon to kill the others with. Their not stupid even if their arrogant. Instead Tynion shows that their nothing special and easily manipulated into becoming canon fodder to prove how badass Ra's Al Ghul and his assassins are. Isn't suspense part of horror? We're supposed to dread these things but all they do is talk big and don't deliver. We already know Ra's Al Ghul is a threat what we didn't know was what the Untitled were like and now the chance to make them worthy foes for Jason has been shot to hell.

Jason could escape Bruce's shadow under Lobdell but he rushes back under Tynion. Instead of forging his own destiny with new villains and situations he's stuck in the Batman bubble fighting Bruce's bad guy. One with strong connections to a recently finished Morrison tale which once again takes the focus away from the leads. While Judd Winick made the Al Ghul connections even he knew better than to force Jason's story into the LOA. Likely because this has already been explored with Cassandra Cain and then Ra's own grandson Damian Wayne. In fact every one of Bruce's kids except for Dick has now been offered leadership. No, the whole point of Lost Days and what Lobdell was doing was to make it JASON's journey. To show him take similar training Bruce took to become Batman but make different choices. He saw the world, traveled and made his own way.

But nope, he's now an ignorant moron that blindly joined the LOA and was shocked that they were brutal. Jason used to be someone that did questionable things but he'd own up to them. He had lines he wouldn't cross because he still cared about the innocent. He would admit fault or take responsibility for his actions in some way even if it was just to himself. In this run all blame is put on things outside his control taking the drama out of everything. Breaking down a book to build it up again rarely works and using it on a series that was still building up was doomed to fail. There was no tension just a long wait for the leads to act like themselves. Which they still don't do because of the characterizations.

Kori barely did anything besides her relationship woes with Roy and her talk with Essence. Sure the memory plot is teased but it might as well have been cut out completely. The powerhouse of the team is taken down the easiest by the most underdeveloped of the writers creations. Roys' fallout with Ollie now has nothing to do with Ollie being a crap mentor. Roy and him barely hold any blame because it's the work of Hugo Strange for reasons that are never explained.

Tynion tries so hard to retcon the previous run and pander to the preboot crowd that he misses most of the point of the book, the characters and the plots he's referencing. Jasons' memory plot was taken from issue #3. Where Lobdell used it for a simple yet profound moment Tynion overuses the gimmick stripping the very identity of the series. The point with Lobdells' use of S'aru was to explore the heart of each of the leads to show what matters most to them. For Kori it was that she always stayed strong even in the face of slavery. For Roy it was finding hope when he was at his lowest. For Jason it was the fact that Bruce did the impossible of giving up his mission for the night to show how much he cared, because he values the people he loves. Jason wants to be close to others yet by giving up the memory he forces himself to move on with his life.

Tynions' take is just an excuse to get Jason to take on a flimsier version of the Untitled for a very unsatisfying story. The supposed tension with the group feels forced and what it says about the characters? It's reduces them to morons because the plot says so. Apparently despite having a breakthrough at the end of Lobdells' run we get this insultingly spelled out for the audience tale. Ducra never informs Essence despite them working together. Essence tries to keep Roy and Kori away...why? It never occurred to Ducra that they would affect Jason? She tells Essence that it's pointless to keep them away and that she's more of a mastermind at planning than her daughter. Apparently not since she didn't see the freaking obvious when all of this could have been easily solved by simply telling Kori and Roy the truth.

I really don't think Tynion is ready to be a professional writer. Lobdell is someone who likes to wing it and his stuff is much more together than this! There simply isn't any originality here and given what I've seen of Tynions' work (at least what I've seen that hasn't had Snyders' name on it) he's not good at coming up with something new and working with establish characters. He makes it hard on himself as a writer by adding unneeded complications and ends up contradicting more than Lobdells' run, he does the same to himself. Tynion hasn't kept any of his promises coming onto this title and I can only hope that his declaration that this arc will carry over to something bigger won't come true either. This story deserves to be forgotten.

*1. I know Essence appeared in Team 7 but I'm mainly talking about where their mythos were built and the villains rather the All Caste members.


Did You Notice?: It claims that Jason talked to Ducra and S'aru "months ago" to get the mindwiped plan put together. If this is supposed to be the same trip in #19 that ended with the memory loss then how the hell could months have passed? They said that the assassins were closing in on Jason and it really took months for them to find him? Especially if Blood Mage and the Untitled have the power to spy on people? I really doubt this hit on their heads could have gone on for months with just Green Arrow finding out about it. Yeah the assassins made sure he found out but what about the freaking bat family?! Jason couldn't have been captured for that long by the LOA because the Untitled gave Roy a short deadline to help them out. Plus that would mean no one in the LOA told Jason what the hell he was supposed to do, why the Well of Sins was important, or anything else for months/weeks!

Was the Well of Sins destroyed? I couldn't tell and if it wasn't then the whole plot was even more pointless since Ra's could just take the power back!

Say What?: I hate when the characters in bat books refer to that early point in Batmans' career as "Year Zero" or "Zero Year." It's namedropping a storyline and makes no sense in context.

Another retcon, Ducra claimed that she still existed as long as the mountains still have magic but now she says it's because Essence exists.

The writer might have forgotten the tacked on "he can read minds" inclusion he added on the Untitled because Ducra doesn't mention it as a factor in her plan to wipe Jasons' memories.

Did we really need Roys' condensing "aw he made doubles of us. He really did need us" bit? Way to take away more of Jasons' victory.

Speaking of underplaying Jason he wouldn't have muttered his insult under his breath.

Nor would Jason suggest that he wants to sleep in other beds, that would have been Roy before he got with Kori. Thanks for once again missing the point of the character Tynion, I sincerely hope he never write him after next issue because it's obvious Tynion don't get Jason Todd. The only way that line makes sense to me is if Jason means he wants to travel otherwise that's very out of character. Especially since the solicit claims he wants to get back with Isabel.

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