Friday, March 28, 2014

Scott Lobdell back on RHATO

What he says and just some thoughts I have on it.

Nrama: We might feel like we already know what your Red Hood is like, but will there be any changes in your approach now?

Lobdell: Part of the thing I always loved about Red Hood and the Outlaws was that from page one it defied expectations. It zigged when everyone was expecting it to zag.
Instead of Jason shooting up Crime Alley, we learned his post-Batman training was more subversive than we realized.

While a vocal minority of readers were more than happy to read another 30 years worth of Kori wailing over Dick Grayson, readers met a woman who was firmly in charge of her sexual agency.
And while Roy had been defined more than once by his moments of weakness through his addiction to alcohol, we met an Arsenal that had never fallen off the wagon, in part because of the world's most unexpected AA sponsor.

Similarly, we're going to continue to defy expectations in the coming months. Bob Harras recently texted me out of the blue with a suggestion about Starfire that was so startling that I laughed and thought "Hey, if I'm surprised then I can only imagine how much fun the readers will have!"
So yeah, whatever you think Red Hood and the Outlaws is going to be — take solace in knowing you're wrong.

Some of the outcry against Koris' portrayal had to do with Rocaforts' art and her uniform too. I don't think it was fair even if I think the construction of her armor top was ridiculous. Of course some had to do with character interpretation as well. Personally one of the things I hated about how Kori was written pre-relaunch was how she was all about Dick Grayson for such a huge part of her history. He could move on but she had to go running back to him even when he used her for sex/didn't love her anymore? Some have questioned her relationship with Roy copying this but under Lobdell they never were "official" even though they were only shown with each other. Tynion added the boyfriend/girlfriend titles and made them weepy over a drama that was never solved.

I would like to see more of the Roy/Killer Croc dynamics because Waylon usually doesn't get much development and I found this interesting for both characters.

I'm not sure what to think of the "Startling Starfire reveal" other than remembering how well the other editorial suggestion of Tims' real last name not being Drake went over.

 Nrama: Since the day you first launched the title, how have the three main characters evolved? We saw Jason, in particular, go through so much during "Death of the Family," but they've also been through a lot since you left the title. How would you describe each of them now, compared to who they were when we first met them in the New 52?

Lobdell: - Kori: I think when we first met Kori the New 52 she was still comfortable in the "I'm not from around here" role. Everything about her new relationships with these two was brand new. As time has gone by and we realize what a brilliant military strategist Kori is, we realize that she's always five or six paces ahead of the two of them. So I think initially there was a lot of curiosity there on her part -- and now there is more caution: they are simply not as smart as she is and so she has to be gentle with both Jason and Roy.

- Roy: When we met Roy, he was more than happy playing Tonto to Jason's Lone Ranger -- he felt more comfortable being comic relief because, well, he's a fun guy and he prefers being happy to being glum or needy. But as time has gone on and his relationship with Kori has developed, he's had to accept the fact that the three of them are equals. Considering how badly things went the last time he tried to form an actual partnership with someone (Oliver Queen) you can appreciate what a challenge this has been for him, and how much Jason and Kori mean to him for Roy to be trying at all.

- Jason: Jason has kind of lacked for healthy relationships his entire life. From his drug peddling dad and his addict mom and letter his — let's be honest — myopic father figure Bruce... its not like he's had a lot of experience actually interacting with people who genuinely like him. I think that was what was most surprising to Jason when he first started bonding with Kori and Roy — that they accepted him warts and all, his sense of humor, his need for space that was always competing with a need for intimacy.

It is hard to have a genuine relationship with someone if you are spending all your time and energy on someone else. Jason has spent a lot of time since his resurrection focused on his relationship with Bruce. Now that that has been put to bed and they have come to terms with who they are to each other, I think we're going to see him getting even closer to his Outlaw buddies. He has more room in his heart now.

...Huh? I never got the impression that after everything they went through Kori thought she was smarter than the guys. At first yeah, but she warmed up to them and even asked them for advise on the whole "should I help the people that abandoned me" thing. Does he mean she came off that way to him under Tynions' run? Maybe she'd feel that way with how Jason ran away (when he had his memory loss) and Roy joined forces with the enemy while she went to Essence to figure things out. But she didn't really do much there. Sure she and Jason tease Roy over his intelligence but they both know he's a genius with tech. Is this suggesting she had a ego?

It's funny to see how vastly different other writers takes are because I think both Tynion and Pfeifer have said that Roy doesn't think he's as good as the other two. I never saw anything either wrote that made it clear that changed. It wasn't explored much under Lobdell but again I didn't see a big shift to show Roy feels that way, he's still very clingy like he expected them to drop him. That doesn't say secure to me.

I'm kind of relieved to see Willis Todd referred to as a drug peddling guy even if it's not stated in the comic. Yeah there were some subtle hints but it was never said. I'm happy because the other suggestion is that he might have pimped Jason out (RHATO #0 has a panel that makes this unclear.) I doubt Lobdell could print it in the comic anyway if that were his intention (since I take Winicks' statements to imply the editors don't want that for a Robin.) I think his description of Jason is the best I've seen which makes sense as I think he's written the best Jason Todd to date.

Nrama: In your last issue of Red Hood, you showed a reconciliation between Bruce and Jason. Does that open the door for the Outlaws to work more with the Bat-family?

Lobdell: I hope so, though keep in mind that while Bruce may forgive Jason, that doesn't mean the rest of the clan is racing to embrace him once again. We'll just have to see!

If editorial wants there to be a tie in they might show up but I don't think they ever forced any interactions in this book before. Barbara for example showed up and made herself clear in her distain for Jason which works since she has been against anti-heroes in other books. I'm curious to see more of Dicks' relationship with Jason which was always hard to define depending on the writer.

Nrama: Will the title tie into what's happened with Forever Evil, or what's coming in Batman Eternal or Futures End?

Lobdell: Hmmm. In a way, I kind of hope not. As much as I love playing in a bigger world whenever possible — painting on a larger canvas — Scott Snyder is always counseling me to stay out of other books and just focus on the title I'm writing at the time.

So my plan right now is to keep Red Hood and the Outlaws in its own 'verse. So we'll see!
That said, there is a really painfully super dark Future's End story I'm writing that focuses almost exclusively on Red Hood — and we'll see how much Kori and Roy have balanced him out when they aren't around any more.

The Scott Snyder comment sounds like Snyder doesn't want Lobdell to hop onto the crossover bandwagon which is odd considering other interviews where he thinks it's fun when others do that. I suppose it could also mean not to let other continuity hold your story down? I'm not sure I want to read that story because we have a lot of dark Red Hood tales as it is. Why can't there be a potentially happy future for Jason?

Nrama: What about your first story arc on the Red Hood? The solicitation for #32 says the team is being pursued by S.H.A.D.E. What's the premise of that pursuit? Why are they in the organization's crosshairs?

Lobdell: Personally, I think S.H.A.D.E. is DC's "Most Undervalued Concept" right now! I just think there are so many super cool stories that can be told with this group! I love them! (And in case I don't mention it later, Jeff Lemire's original run was brilliant at fleshing out these amazing concepts. I remember meeting him in San Diego one year and telling him how envious I was about rubber ball sized floating headquarters created by Roy Palmer! I hate when someone comes up with an idea I'd never have thought of on my own!) Right now it looks like I have permission to bring in a famous winged bat character into the organization... and if I had my way this whole arc would function as a pilot for a new series called M_NB_T, AGENT OF S_A_E! (You can fill in the blanks!)
In story, during Wil Phiefer's stellar run, we're going to see Jason and Kori take liberties with some of S.H.A.D.E.'s resources, which has the unintended consequences of putting the Outlaws on their radar.

Well at least we know his story connects to Pfiefers' arc.

So far Lobdell has done the best writing in RHATO making the characters fun but I realize that's not a guarantee that things will be the same when he returns. I admit one of the biggest appeals of his return--besides potentially getting back to the RHATO I love--is the hope he'll retcon Tynions' run. I just really disliked/hated a good portion of that but I realize Lobdell might not care if that's canon or not. Judging by some of his answers here it sounds like he's either not aware of the changes or is ignoring them. He doesn't for example seem to be aware of the rift between Jason and Bruce after Bruces' jackass behavior in Batman and Red Hood #20. But to be fair the story beats from Batman and Robin rarely get addressed in other books. Even the Batman/Superman Annual ignored it completely although that issue ignored a lot of canon.


  1. The only thing I have to add is about Jason's future.

    Bruce proposing to Selina aside (which... yeesh, but if I begin on that I may never end), Jason seems the only one in the Batfam (if we ignore Duke since I have yet to get 'his deal') that actually had a genuine and prolonged (definite) 'change of heart' so to speak. Never mind Rebirth for now (which Jason even abides by the 'no killing' rule even if he doesn't agree with it), Jason is the only one that was as obssessed as the rest of the Batfam in A 'mission' and was able to move past it.

    Just as his war against Bruce would never end because Bruce would never give him any satisfaction (either killing the Joker or saying what Jason actually wants/needs to hear). Bruce's mission against crime is also never ending.

    Both 'missions' are doomed (even if Bruce's is 'honorable' or whatever), but Jason actually steps back and pursue a life outside what was caging him and with a single rock, by leaving Gotham behind, Jason is (relatively) free of both: Batman and the Joker.

    Idk, imo this is a huge deal. So far, the only truly healthy decision directly connected to their 'demons' any Robin had and whether or not Jason realises in a counscious level how ridiculously 'healthy' the decision to leave Gohtam and all its complications behind truly is for him.

    Like Lobdell said: it's difficult to have a relationship with a person that is spending all his time and energy on something or someone else.

    Back to the point I wanted to make since I got sidetracked: Jason leaving Gotham, barely being involved with anything Bat (his costume and Tim Drake aside) is what gives me hope that his future might be extremly 'pedestrian'. Unlike the other Robins, I can see a future where he settles down perhaps even married and with kids a là Mr. Miracle and Big Barda in the suburbans but just like the New Gods couple, not totally managing to permanently hang the helmet because of various reasons (being dragged due to expertise, seeing that it was a 'all hands on deck' situation etc) and while willing (even if not completely happy, at least trying to look that way) to help also looking forward to go back to his quiet family life.

    So far, it seems that Jason can be as obstinate as the Bat but when he progresses it's truly 'in leaps'. First by leaving Gotham behind (New 52) and slowly opening up to the other people and working alongside them and then by abiding the 'no killing rule' and even trying to TEACH it to Bizarro (Rebirth) and even taking initiative on making friends and all that without missing the traits that make fans love him.

    I admit I was a little worried that with all those changes that the character would be unrecognizable but I was happy to see that it's not the case because there was a clear and firm character development, so far and in conclusion: I can perfectly see a Hapy!FutureJason.

  2. Yeah I remember an early RHATO where Lobdell said that Jason knows Bruce's mission is doomed and unlike him can step away from the mission to relax.

    I would love to see a future where Jason is happy and has a loving family like you suggested. In all honesty Jason is the only one of the Robins that really feels like their developing at the moment. At least from what I've read. If DC is intent on making Dick into a playing then let Jason be the committed relationship guy.