radbackflips's Red Hood and the Outlaws #25 - Zero Year: The Beckoning Dark review

And Things Finally Start To Make Sense

On two levels, actually. But let's start with the basics.

RHaTO's Zero Year tie-in focuses specifically on Jason Todd, which is to be fair, considering Green Arrow just got off the island (and thus no Roy anywhere near the hero business), and Kori's still a slave. And it does a brilliant job of showcasing both Jason's life on the streets and his budding connections with Talia and the All-Caste. Unlike most Zero Year tie-ins that have been released, RHaTO 25 actually manages to add something substantial and necessary to the series' plot, rather than just throw in a one-shot that wasn't really relevant either way, and should completely restore any reader's faith in Tynion IV's current plot and writing. So. What happened?

Positive

- Brilliant writing; the emotion is real in this issue and that is something fantastic. If Tynion's good at anything it's characterisation, and he does not disappoint in any way shape or form. Jason and Talia absolutely shone in this issue.

- It's relevant. Really, almost every Zero Year tie-in so far hasn't added too much depth to the plot of their series. RHaTO 25 does the exact opposite and masterfully builds off of Lobdell's established world, managing to tie believable links between Jason, the gritty life of Gotham and the mysticism of the All-Caste as well as his place in the war (and why he's even involved at all). It even ties in with Lobdell's shady #0 issue - basically, the part that had Joker apparently pulling the strings to have Jason end up with the Bat. We know Joker's hanging around, and we know he's paying attention.

- Jason Todd himself! As opposed to a kid that stole from Leslie Thompkins and was seemingly dumped off on the Bat, Jason shows just why he'd be a great Robin - his developing fighting prowess and the ability to pick up new skills is just the beginning. It also puts a brand new spin on Jason's character within the New 52 and how exactly Batman picking him up would have influenced him. And the amnesia plotline is finally starting to make sense, which is wonderful.

- The art. The art, the art, the art. I could marry this art. Jeremy Huan, the artist of Red Hood: the Lost Days finally returned to working on Jason Todd. Forget Rocafort; if we could have Huan doing the art for RHaTO permanently I could die happy.

Negative

- Some issues. Is... Jason keeping his dead mother on a shrine, or is she just passed out? Who knows.

- Joker. It's great to know he's been hanging around and may have a reason for manipulating Jason to Batman, but we're still not too sure why, or how. Joker's definitely involved, but to what extent and just how much he knows is apparently to be saved for another day.

- The cover. It irks me. Initially, it was supposed to be Talia's ominous shadow standing behind Jason, but it has since been amended to be the mummified Joker, who had nowhere near as much of an impact as Talia did. It was truly an unnecessary change - and a rather misleading one at that.

Your Mileage May Vary

- Jason is stepping out of Batman's shadow in a big way. As opposed to constantly being stuck in an endless loop of hatred a la pre-52, it's shown here that being Robin was likely very much just a stepping stone for Jason to move onto other things. It's the reader's interpretation as to whether or not this is a good thing.

- This proves we haven't seen Tynion's Red Hood yet. And considering he's written seven issues and an annual already, that's... well. What we have seen, however, is Jason being thrown back into a pre-Bat state of mind. That's right - amnesia!Jason is, in fact, pre-Robin!Jason thrown headfirst into mystic war. Again, YMMV.

Final Opinion

If you buy a Zero Year tie-in, buy this one. It's relevant, it's well-written, it just restored all hope I had for Red Hood and the Outlaws as a series as well as Tynion's writing. This just ensured I'd be sticking around for the long haul, and I strongly urge anyone reading RHaTO at the moment, or dropped the series for whatever reason, to pick this up.

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