The Psychotic Perspective: Red Hood and the Outlaws #13
The Moon's Up, and the Sun's Down -- and a Thousand Starry Eyes Have Caught Me Dying!
In case anybody was wondering, the stupid title for this comic is a parody of a song from Fame. Three cheers for Google for answering life's most meaningless questions.
Thus far, I have enjoyed Red Hood and the Outlaws. I would not accuse issue twelve of greatness, but I though Lobdell crafted a very interesting origin tale for Jason Todd in the zero issue. (I am assuming that the bit about Joker making Jason Robin was a "What if?" scenario) In my review of RHATO #12, I predicted that Blackfire would once more go evil as in her pre-DCNU version, but the Outlaws would be prepare for the betrayal. Do I prove to be a prophet, or am I preaching heresy?
In this issue, the Outlaws have a final stand against the Blight and Depalo recalls his history with Starfire.
While the previous issues have given me a rather pleasant feeling, this one left me feeling more confused than anything else. First of all, there appears to have been a major editorial mistake. Depalo recalls his time serving with Starfire, but rather than call her Koriand’r, he called her Komand’r which is Blackfire’s given name not Starfire’s. This served to make the flashback sequence very confusing to me as I tried desperately to understand this previous interaction between Depalo and Blackfire before I eventually concluded that it must have just been a spelling mistake. I suppose that is easy to do, but why do editors exist if not to catch that sort of thing?
I also found the entire battle sequence to be a bit of a mess. There are certainly elements of the battle which are entertaining (a kiss from Starfire being chief among them), but the whole thing lacked a sense of scale. It appears that the heroes are battling a contingent of about a hundred soldiers of the Blight. Is that all of the enemy force on the planet, or are these sorts of battles going on all across the planet? Where are the heroes fighting in relation to one another? These are small issues, but they served to make me feel off balance.
More problems popped up later. Starfire lets loose with her full power and causes a wave of energy, but the panel that shows the blast does not give any reference to establish the size of the blast. Did her energy blast consume ten feet or ten miles? There is no way to tell. Blackfire gets stabbed through the stomach in a wound that appears fatal, yet she appears later with no reference to the wound. The whole issue feels a bit off in pacing giving no time to explain the wounds yet giving two pages for a meaningless “Death of a Family” tease.
I complained in my Nightwing #13 review that the cover for that issue is a lie, but it is rather minor compared to this issue. Blackfire never betrays the Outlaws and in fact seems nearly sickeningly sweet towards her sister. It is no new thing for a cover to inaccurately reflect the truth of the comic, but it should be at least symbolically true. For instance, if Blackfire had not tried to kill Starfire but instead exiled her, at least there would be some justification to Komand’r’s stance on the cover, but there is really no justification for the cover in this issue.
Let’s Set Up Campy
In my first couple of issues of RHATO, I was surprised to find the light-spirited tone of this series despite the fact that RHATO is actually much darker than most superhero tales. In the previous issues, the tone seemed to reflect the attitude of our heroes who get through pain by joking, but in this issue, the tone went beyond light-hearted and was instead bordering on campy. Arsenal’s narration is very tongue-in-cheek which was a bit out of place in the epic battle. The Blight was stereotypically evil to the point of almost being a parody of itself. Jason makes a snappy comment or two which may make sense in the prelude to a battle you believe you will lose, but seems out of place in the actual midst of such action. Kori and Kom’s attitude at the end of the issue also seemed a bit too convenient.
I am probably being a bit generous to this issue based on my enjoyment of the previous issues, but I found this to be a bit off. It is not horrible, but this issue delivered a lower quality product then what the series deserves. If you have enjoyed this series so far, then go ahead and pick this issue up, but I would not recommend it for any non-veteran readers.