Monday, March 6, 2017

Red Hood and the Outlaws #7 Vol. 2

Judging by the cover image we might have a "Of mice and men" type of story with Bizarro.


Jason starts off the issue by kicking out Black Mask's drug dealers. I like this change from UTH where he just took a percentage and forbid them to sell to kids. He isn't fond of these people as his mom was an addict. Naturally they think their just kill him but Bizarro is acting as the muscle to prevent that.

It's still a struggle to keep Bizarro in line as he's not quite aware of his own strength. This prompts a memory of Jason's about being too tough as a Robin. "Killer Croc" works as muscle for one of the men but luckily it's a robot otherwise Bizarro would have killed the real deal. Bizarro claims he knew it was a robot but Jason's not sure the big guy is being honest.

Artemis brings up a video showing another test subject and how Bizarro could turn into such a threat. This makes Jason question what is right, whether he should believe in Bizarro or take him out to make sure others are safe. He gets a shard of Kryptonite just in case and tries to relate to Bizarro.

The big guy recalls Superman memories but knows their not his. He promises to be the best he can be and Jason decides he can't kill him.

Overall: As always I like how much Jason relates to Bizarro and how smart this Bizarro is. This was the relationship many thought would be the weakest but it feels natural. Unfortunately most of this issue didn't flow right for me because it felt rushed. It especially feels like we missed a few steps with Artemis as she has none of her previous snark and seems pretty invested in both of them. This actually made me stop to check to see if Lobdell had a co-writer or something. Artemis expresses concern about Bizarro and refer to Jason by his first name when she previously stated she didn't care who he was. Saying she's not arrogant enough to think Bizzarro shouldn't live but didn't she think along those lines in the previous arc? She kind of teamed up just because she was needed and now she doesn't mind the set backs to her mission?

I'm not sure if the art plays a part in this feeling of disconnect I have with the story but I feel like this story should have happened at a later point in the series. Maybe after the Artemis arc.

Don't get me wrong with my complaints about Jason this issue. I think Lobdell is the best writer for the character and unlike many current bat writers actually researched him. But I think that he has fallen into a few pitfalls other writers have used. The computer scene implies what was stated in the last arc that Tim did something to make it easier to hack. Many writers prop Tim up while making other Robins look dumber in the process. While I think Lobdell was going for comedy with the exchange I don't want his abilities to be nerfed. This is a guy that in old canon could eavesdrop on Deathstroke and kept up to date on his Intel. Different methods sure but he still wasn't caught.

It's not horrible but I hope it doesn't help the "dumb Robin" vibe other writers have latched onto. There's also mentions of Jason being violent and I don't think any current writer including Lobdell fully realized the real reason for it in their stories. This would have been the perfect place for it as Bizarro reacts out of fear and a need to protect Jason. Lobdell did have Jason react in a similar way when Batman was endangered by Two Face but he hasn't shown that its always been the reason for the violence. Jason simply wanted to protect others and hated how they were treated. Winick mentioned a "mean streak" but that wasn't the case.

I also get what he trying to say about being a small part of the world and relating that to Bizarro. I like that Bizarro understands what Jason is trying to say I'm just unsure if that's how Jason would see things. Scared? Yeah. Hate? Not so much. I might like this issue better the more I read it but at present it doesn't work for me. Oddly enough Bizarro is the only character I think is perfect while Artemis feels like an entirely new character and some Jason moments just feel off. I don't mind Artemis getting along with them but it seem to come out of no where. I know previous editorial wanted Lobdell to rush character development to make them a team and wonder if that happened here.

It's still far better than many titles I tried but for Lobdell, especially this run, it's a little weak.

Say what?: "Me am friend he referenced!" Not perfect English but I'm still impressed with the level of intelligence Lobdell gives Bizarro. You don't really see him being written with an understanding of what's going on around him. He's acknowledging that here and even the word usage is better than usual. It's the little things that really stand out.

Bizarro mentioning Jason (Red Him) as his only friend before adding Artemis (Red Her) under his breath then "Pup Pup." The only thing that would have made that funnier is if he listed Artemis last.

Ma Gunn has a place for the crminally infirmed? That's a big change, I know about Black Mask but how does she profit from this? Why would Jason stay there if she suspected he was Jason Todd? Even if she dismissed it that's a risky move. Black Mask lives there now!

There were nearly a dozen Bizarros made with the current one.

Questions Asked?: Clark remembered his parents sending him away?

Could he kill Bizarro with green Kryptonite?

Did you notice? The doctor going from a clean cut professional eager about his assignment to a haggard looking man with serious concerns. Great art details.

Are those folder titles supposed to mean something to us? Like hints about an upcoming event? I think the X ones might be a X-Men nod since the weapon X program had a lot of lab experiments.


  1. I don't think the dynamic with Artemis feels rushed when you take into account her personality. Being an honor bound warrior, is only natural she mellowed out after deciding to take responsibility by her actions. Plus, she did watch first hand Bizarro's intelligence through the last arc.

    I also don't think Lobdell is saying Jason is dumb or anything. He's been pretty consistent on giving Jason some limitations and the fact the script is ambiguous I think than rather being Tim the author of the program, is actually Roy's handiwork. We know thanks to Crux's appearance that the previous volumes are in continuity and a hacking program is the kind of thing Roy would make.

    Another thing, a constant of Lobdell's Jason is that when scared, he lashes out in anger. So the dialogue about hate is also in character for him, even more if you take in account that was back when he was younger and thus, with less control of his emotions.

    The stinger for the previous issue already revealed that Ma Gunn turned a new leaf and now is focused on helping former criminals rather than children and an easy explanation for Jason setting down there is that he's keeping an eye on Roman. Keeps your friends close and your enemies closer after all.

  2. Artemis takes awhile to "mellow" out. From the time Diana met her to Artemis' death they had a somewhat tense relationship despite Diana taking a liking to her. Artemis still snapped at her after she returned. This is partly due to her arrogance and her competitive nature.

    Now that's not quite the same thing as her relationship with the guys but she's stated her goal and showed no interest in becoming a team long term. She barely made Jason a promise not to kill Bizarro and seriously doubted his skills. If she doesn't have a strong connection to the guys then I can't buy this change.

    I'm not saying Lobdells is saying Jason is dumb. I'm saying that others have and playing off limitations as a joke might not help in that regard. While I appreciate limitations I'd like to have more wins under Jason's belt as most of his accomplishments in recent years have been team efforts. Right now it's not even. Roy, Tim and Simon have done things Jason could of or should have done.

    That bit might sound better in re-reads but at present it still feels off to me.

    I know Jason said it was risky but this is riskier than living under the police station. I read that as Gunn just wanting to torment Roman not change her "daycare scheme" to this. Plus its odd that Jason would want to stay there if he hated being at Arkham.