Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Red Hood/Arsenal #5

Back in Gotham the pair have to deal with not just the new Batman but also Underbelly.


Robocop-Mecha Batman (Gordon) decides the direct approach is called for and blows up Underbelly without getting much information. Seriously he does this in the first page, last issue ended with the bad guy threatening them and Gordon asking if he was a friend of theirs. Sure Gordon is a cop in Gotham but I thought he had a little more restraint. Even Jason asks if that was overkill and he shot up the guy last issue. The usual fight over who's in charge comes up and Jason is more irked by a guy claiming to be Batman than control. He thinks about the way Bruce would have approached the situation by helping them out with their case rather than listing their rap sheets. Luckily Roy doesn't have that problem and figures out when Underbelly will reform.

Turns out Underbelly was listening to Jasons' story last issue and finishes it to explain he's created using an experimental device from Arkham to lobotomize evil minds which has psychic energy. During the fight Joker dropped it in the remains of the innocent man that was murdered. Gordon beats on Underbelly while Roy works on a plan B. During this Jason gets taken over by Underbelly for having evil in his heart? Are we talking about the Sith sort of deal with anger leading to hate, etc? Anyway Jason overcomes the influence because as he says he's not evil. Take that haters.

Roy takes Underbelly down with a special arrow while Jason thinks about how much he misses Bruce. The day is saved and Gordon is an ass. The revenge squad is after the boys and I'm still not a fan of Suzie Su. Anyway as many of us guessed we see the Fox center. We learn this was a place Jason would end up after his dad was sent to jail and his mom overdosed. Much to his surprise he finds Bruce and doesn't know what to think. It's a great moment. Then Roy gets attacked by someone I wasn't expecting making it look like he was shot in the head?

Overall: The story of Underbellys' origin does feel rushed and a little odd but hey it works because Arkham Asylum has done some questionable things. I do like the idea that Underbelly represents the evil of the city by coming from the worst minds in Gotham and forming in the blood of a slain innocent man. There's something very poetic about that and the fact Joker never realized he created him. I looked back into last issue and you can't see when it happened as the device is only seen for a moment. It might have happened when Batman attacked Joker. There's also the detail of Jason sensing something was off that's a little convenient but also oddly poignant. I say this because even with the murdered man there Jason as a kid was the most innocent person in the room at the time.

I do think it was more than a little naïve of Jason to start talk of redemption when dealing with a manifestation of pure evil. Does he just think it was Jokers' influence? Does he believe Underbelly still has a little bit of the man in him? I never expected him to be the cool headed one and Gordon to be the more trigger happy. Sometimes it works well for Jasons' character, not so much here. It does make Gordon look brutal from a certain POV but his way also makes a lot of sense. I like that Jason is able to tell he's a cop.

I don't like that once again Jason--the bat kid--doesn't do anything impressive and Roy once again saves the day. Yes their partners but this is starting to get ridiculous, even Gordon commented on how weak it was to use bullets. Doesn't Jason have any other tools at his disposal?

I did like how Jason realized how much he missed Bruce while working with Gordon and how worried he really was. The part where he thinks Bruce might have been less serious around the other Robins is a nice subtle touch. Jason never thinks he's as important as the others and just acts like it's normal. It's heartbreaking. Lobdell has his faults but his strength has always been emotional moments which really shines during Jasons' meeting with Bruce. I knew it was coming because if the set up but I still got misty eyed.

I'll write more of that somewhere else but onto something else that got to me. Roy is once again spying on Jason and wondering if he should talk to him about his problems. Pretty creepy Roy. Oh and he might be dead but I don't believe that for a moment. My guess is the revenge plot turning up. Gordon will be pissed because they didn't leave but this wasn't their fault. Plus there's Robin War which they need to be around for.

Say What?: At first I was a little taken aback about Jason referring to Robobat as Batman. Then I remembered that he doesn't know who's under the suit or why. For all he knows it's someone Bruce approves of. I would have gone with him calling Gordon "Batman."

Jason objecting to Underbelly being taken down with sonics when he knows the guy is an a immortal. Maybe he's just concerned about someone using Batmans' name using potentially lethal methods and how that would affect Bruce?

Gordon knowing who Underbelly was when Jason didn't before his encounter. This is weird especially since, as Roy pointed out, he was briefly a "crime boss." Plus Gordon didn't seem to know him last issue although he could have been asking if they were his partners. Maybe?

Bruce isn't much for redemption? Is that just Jasons' biased opinion in regards to his relationship with Bruce? Because the guy has made several attempts to reform people like Harvey Dent.

Jason says he promised someone he'd go there but he didn't.

Did You Notice?: The "blam" sound effects. That implies a gun but Jason wasn't firing he was covering his ears like Roy. Underbelly was falling apart and Gordon was using sonics. So where was that sound coming from?

I noticed the Batman shadow for Bruce but it took me another look to notice Jason had a Robin shadow. Wonderful touch.


  1. This was a fantastic issue. However I also believe that the whole thing with Underbelly was really handled poorly. His origin while interesting seems like a waste of time if he's dead already and him being so Gotham focused only reinforces my impression something happened between issue 2 and now that forced Lobdell to change his original plans with the character. Having Gordon suddenly well aware of Underbelly was also a weird narrative choice.

    I'm not a big fan of Gordobats but I don't believe he was badly handled here. As a cop Gordon has been known by going for the killshot when the situation calls for it (he went for the killshot during Endgame for example)

    While Jason didn't had a big role on taking Underbelly down, I think his resilence to Underbelly's influences serves perfectly to balance the show of power between him and Roy (and is gonna make me cringe when any other writer makes Jason victim of brainwashing. Yes, I'm looking at you B&R Eternal's writers)

    Lobdell keeps getting a lot of crap for the narration boxes (and c'mon Snyder was worse on this month's Batman and no one complaints) but those served perfectly to drive home Jason's thoughts about Bruce. He has come a long way since Under the Red Hood and honestly, I think his meeting with Bruce was very superior to Dick's.

    The end totally took me by surprise and while I honestly doubt Roy was seriously harmed I have to admit is an excellent way to built interest for the next issue. Interesting that Roy's erratic behavior seems tied to whatever will happen on Titan's Hunt.

    I'm really gonna miss Medri's work.

  2. I thought the same but I shrugged it off because I'm sure Lobdell could bring him back if he wanted. Essence wasn't dead after Jason zapped her. Underbelly feed off crime and he was in one of the worst places. Plus I got the uneasy vibe he might have left something in Jason. It's pretty clear that Lobdell had to change things.

    I'm not saying going for the kill was bad just unexpected especially since the guys were almost pacifist in comparison.

    They brainwashed him? I'm not that surprised actually. Disappointed though just like I am to discover his first meeting with Cass is set with them fighting which should be predictable. It's good to see Jason fight off the influence, better to say it's because he's not evil. But I'm a little tired of Roy being the brains and saving the day. At least in recent issues and it doesn't help that he's pulling Jason into everything.

    Snyder is far worse than Lobdell and at least with the latter I never wanted to skip it because I was bored. Jason has come a long way and while I haven't gotten the issue yet I have no doubt this was better. Simply because Dick was playing a role while Jason couldn't contain himself for once and actually wore his heart on his sleeve. I adored Jasons' thoughts during this whole issue.

    I was thinking it was totally out of left field especially considering who it was. Makes sense although I'm worried Roy will open up to the Titans and not Jason.

    Me too.