Thursday, October 13, 2016

Red Hood and the Outlaws #3 VOL. 2

Last issue Jason and Artemis met, fought, sort of teamed up and found Black Masks' weapon. Where do things go from here?


Flashback to Jason on his first night as Robin going on patrol solo. It didn't go well and he returned to the cave with scrapes. In present day Artemis and him try to decide what to do with their Superman clone. Black Mask shows up and gases the place knocking the pair out. Jason wakes up in a posh room unmasked and sees it as a sign he's still in Black Masks' good graces. More disturbingly Black Mask has a new helmet waiting for him that looks just like one of his spares. It makes Jason wonder if one was made for him or one was taken from his bunker hideout.

Black Mask seems to think Jason lured Artemis to them. When Jason asks where she is BM shrugs it off like it's not a big deal. BM shows Jason the lab the clone is in revealing how he got information on Lexcorp dealings. Seeing the clone again triggers another memory of being brought back to life with the Lazarus Pit. The clone wakes but the air changes his skin and makes his muscles bigger. Black Mask wonder is it was worth the risk to bring him, that maybe Lex Luthor wants the clone destroyed since it was a failure.

Trying to condition the clone to know his powers and obey orders isn't something Jason likes. He suggest BM let him try something. Waiting for him is Artemis locked in her cell saying she plans on using BM for information. She doesn't think it's worth his time trying to deal with the clone claiming there's nothing there. Jason thinks otherwise and buys a toy Superman for the clone.

Later Black Mask invites a maskless Jason to dinner. He seems to have some suspicions but still acts friendly towards Jason. Seeing Jason approaching the clone Artemis warns him against treating him like a child when he's a weapon. Jason gives the clone the toy explaining that the clone isn't Superman and doesn't have to be. Artemis says he's a monster upsetting the clone who proclaims he's not a monster or Superman--he's Bizarro.

Overall:  It's funny to think that prior to the relaunch we wouldn't have had such an easy to understand image as Jason as Robin staring at Dicks' Robin suit. Because pre-Flashpoint it would be the exact same suit and it looked ridiculous. The image we're presented with says so many things. How much pressure Jason was under to match up with Dick and ultimately how it's his suit that ends up in the case. It's impossible for me not to feel bad for him.

I like that Jason instantly made this connect with Bizarro because they both have this image of their predecessors forced upon them. Having Artemis snap him out of it and wondering how he could lose interest on the clone was pretty funny too. It didn't overplay the spacing out bit yet still poked fun at it. The fact that Jason doesn't know why he thought of that moment was nice too.

I can't tell you how much I love the fact that Jason's helmet being broken is the reason he passes out. I think it was Endgame that had him wearing a gas mask OVER his helmet. I don't know why although I guess the "face" designed helmet made Capullo think it was just a cloth mask. The helmet being broken and allowing Jason to pass out also came into play during the fight with Joker during the DOTF tie in/TT crossover. Personally I think BM might have used it to his advantage or tried to anyway.

The creepy factor really comes into play here with Black Mask and how much he knows. For the people saying Jason isn't aware of BM being ahead of him well he knows but there's not much he can really do about it besides playing along. Although I love how unsubtle Jason is when concerned about Artemis. It's cute to see someone who's normally the badass around bad guys come off as someone pretending to be heartless and failing. I also love how BM doesn't seem to think Artemis is a big deal while Jason mentally rolls his eyes that someone wouldn't take an Amazon as a threat.

I like the DC links with them talking about Lex trying to be Superman then Forever Evil. It comes off more natural than some nods to other series. It also answers why Lex--so far--hasn't done anything about the theft. When I heard Lobdell state in an interview that Jason relates to Bizarro I assumed it would be something he'd realize after Artemis said something. Jason instantly connects with Bizarro and how neither of them had any say in whether they live or not. Every once in a while Lobdell gives out details of Jason's POV on his death/return to life. It's always fun to see.

I like that it's still being explored because FAR to often death is treats like it's no big deal. Jason's death is a huge part of Batman lore so acting like it's nothing would be a disservice. There's even a mention of drowning which I find intriguing given he's said to have died from breathing in smoke and his All Caste training had him at the bottom of a pool. Yet no one gets into the fact he died not from the beating or explosion but by not being able to breathe.

Jason felt like it was wrong to return to the world. There have been a lot of implications of this throughout Lobdell's work on Red Hood books. Jason has called mobsters "regular people", showed a desire to have some normalcy but feels awkward when he tries to be normal. To have Jason comfort Bizarro...that's Jason Todd. This is the character that did everything to protect his mom(s), that felt so much for others that it hurt him to see them harmed. His anger came from his empathy but at heart he's a caretaker. No one took care of him and he doesn't like seeing others suffer like he did.

He literally sees this kind of scary looking clone based on the guy he was previous wary of looking scared and helpless. Instead of worrying about his own safety or looking good in front of Black Mask he comforts Bizarro. It's perfect. Unfortunately Jason can't make good on his promise as Black Mask has other plans. Which brings about this exchange when Jason suggests he tries something:

Black Mask: I trust your instincts.

Jason Todd: ...Thank you. [At least someone does.]

At this point BM has been the most supportive person Jason currently deals with which is naturally suspicious. Still you get this bond, Jason isn't used to such praise and does on some level appreciate it. Batman thinks he can't handle this and Artemis hasn't been positive either. Artemis chose not to escape and mocks Jason for not figuring that out sooner but how could he know? He didn't even know she was alive until he entered the room. I adore Bizarro mimicking Superman and Jason's knowing "nothing there" remark to Artemis. I'm not sure I buy her explanation of staying for Intel. I don't think BM even knew about the bow until Artemis mentioned it.

Tim's death mention: this was handled well without feeling out of place. The fact that he couldn't handle going to the funeral is pretty telling. Tim was the only one in the family that he is really seen spending time with. Damian treats him like crap, Dick is just kinda there (no one really looked into their relationship well), there are issues with Bruce and Alfred still pulled some crap after Endgame. This is another distressing tragedy to happen to him recently and the simplicity really worked.

It's always sad to know Jason didn't have much of a childhood but not feeling comfortable in a toy store because of it? I'm still touched that he's making the effort. When he's with Black Mask they talk and the amount of tension has always been just underneath the surface. Now it's gets turned up a notch as they discuss family. As expected BM tried to find out who Jason was while he slept and came up with nada. He asks about the bat symbol which Jason claims is just there to piss Batman off. I admit I'm disappoint that Artemis seeing Jason unmasked wasn't a bigger moment. Honestly I thought I heard they were keeping a tighter lid on Jason being unmasked so much. Still I think I get the reason for this choice.

It works for the bit in the prison with the "Dark Trinity" because the helmet has been used by Jason as a physical means to separate him from others. To hide his expression from others and act as an indifferent image. He's vulnerable without the same emotional defenses he started out having in RHATO VOL. 1. He doesn't have his friends to back him up, Tim is "dead", the family hasn't really been there for him even before this mission. In the prison he's trying to bond with Bizarro and having no helmet makes it easy for them to make a connection. It's bringing in a humanizing atmosphere that thus far Bizarro has only gotten from Jason. I think this also affects Artemis as she drops most of her snark and actually sounds like she's worried about him.

Most writers (Winick included) get one trait very wrong about Jason and that's his compassion. It's a HUGE part of his character and why he had "anger issues." This is the trait that's his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. He wanted to help Joker's Daughter because of it, he tried to help his mom and both of them betrayed him. It's why he was furious with Felipe. I know Artemis was being snarky with her "don't come back to me when you die" retort but yeah, that's a big factor of why he died. The only thing he did wrong was trust his mom because he wanted to help her. Artemis wonders how he survived so long as he has because of it but it's amazing that in spite of it all he is still so compassionate.

Back to Black Mask I think he knows who Jason is and is using this whole dinner conversation to try to test the waters. To see where he's allegiances truly lie. After reading and typing most of this review I checked to see what people thought online. A certain site had a few people that seemed to have read Black Mask's interest in Jason in a more...uh...dark fanfic-y light. I don't think that's what Lobdell trying to do (I hope not at any rate) and at present see it as him continuing to plant seeds. Reading it from a different perspective I think it might make more sense and in a less disturbing way.

Jason is more of the heart in this on and I really think it works for him. As always looking forward to more.

Say What?: Jason asks which was creepier the d├ęcor or that someone took off his clothes (not his pants) and tucked him in. The latter, Jason. There's no question it's the latter.

Once again a comparison to Bruce comes in when Jason thinks where to find Black Mask. I love that Jason instantly knows where to find him by seeing the two as opposites. Bruce works down in the cave so Black Mask would be upstairs to see the whole world.

Lex wanted to destroy this Bizarro? I thought Forever Evil had him wanting his creation back and hating that he had to wait for another. Not that I can't see Lex changing his mind it's just curious.

Black Mask claims he needed Red Hood to trigger the biochamber's defenses. That makes sense but something else is clearly in play given his attention towards Jason. Does he mean the gas? Didn't he say he used it to take out Artemis?

Jason not wanting to return from death was hinted at a couple times before this. During the drug arc in the first RHATO series while affected by Venom he recalled the peacefulness of his grave. In the Futures End issue Jason mentions being dragged out of heaven against his will.

A nod to Forever Evil and Jason calling them Crime Goblins.

It's not shocking that Jason didn't have toys but what about the Teddy bear in #1 st Ma Gunns's or the baby toys in issue #0?

Jason might just be a smart ass but there was a dog in #0. Sparky could be his name. They were both seen under the table when he was a toddler while Willis and Catherine argued.

Did You Notice?: Much like the main cover for issue #2 the main cover for #3 has humorous word bubbles. This one is a reference to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Instead of Superman and Batman asking who Wonder Woman was with Artemis and Jason are asking who Bizarro is with.

When Jason wakes up look at his exposed skin. There are reddish bruises from his fight with Artemis.

The Jason in the Lazarus Pit looks too old but since this is a freak out-triggered type of "flashback" it works. This did confuse me as I was reading with the guided view on the digital comic and confused Superman looking Bizarro for Jason.

The reflection of Talia helping Jason when he's helping Bizarro. It varies whether she assisted Jason for good reasons as the Secret Origins implied differently. I'm not sure it a perfect comparison if Talia brought Jason back via the pit as Jason didn't have much say with Bizarro. It works better if Talia just brought Jason's mind back.

Bizarro is adorable in his overalls and trying to say up up and away. It's totally worth mentioning.

99% off sale on toys?!

Questions Raised?: Why was Artemis acts like Jason was bragging about his intelligence? All he did was tell her that he was undercover and that his methods differed from Batman.

How did Black Mask get into the train car they were lifting into the air? Did Jason space out so long that they had landed?

So Jason was brought back with the pit? It's a question because previously Lobdell had said Jason was mindless before the pit. Meaning he wasn't brought back to life by it but his consciousness was. He hinted that Talia feared Jason because he wasn't natural yet she's seen lifting Jason out here. While that fear is still in the story it's presented differently. Why would she fear him if she experienced this with her father? Jason doesn't know why she was afraid here.

Does Jason know the techno organic virus controls people or is he just unsure BM is behind it?

How did Tim get that footage? Weren't the cameras down?

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