This review contains spoilers!
When it comes to writer James Tynion IV's take on RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, I've been mostly down the middle. There's a lot of potential in the story he's building, but up until this issue, I felt like I was waiting and waiting for something to truly reel me in. Well, #21 accomplishes this and it's a super exciting build-up for something that's clearly massive.
If you're a fan of lethal DC characters, this issue should have you cheering. Bronze Tiger? Cheshire? Lady Shiva? Ra's al Ghul (kind of)? And even a few new ones? Oh yes, it's quite delightful. Now we just need David Cain (and therefore opening up speculation about Cassie) and I think some fans out there would pass out from joy. And best of all, Bronze Tiger can indeed change to a human form. Although, if being in the animal form takes away from his soul, I can't help but wonder why he was like that in the annual's cliffhanger (I'm going to assume it was just to look cool and tease him, yeah?).
Also, it's revealed Jason Todd received training from Lady Shiva awhile ago. This is something I really hope Tynion showcases because training under her would definitely step up someone's game. I know he may not recall it, but it would be neat to see him display some awesomeness through muscle memory. Hell, it even made Shrike better. Remember him? No? It's okay, he's probably best left in the past anyway.
This issue opens with a draw-joppingly good splash page. The detail, the colors, the cinematic feel... it's phenomenal. While we never get quite that level of quality in the rest of the book, it's definitely able for a good chunk of the reading experience. I noticed at least once Starfire appeared two dimensional when there's an aura around her, her eyebrows are still absurd and some facial expressions felt awkward, but despite those complaints, it was still a mostly solid looking chapter.
The split between Arsenal and Starfire felt super abrupt. The past two issues have clearly made a strong effort to grow the connection between them, so to have them go their separate ways so easily felt off to me. Now, I'm sure we'll see them join forces sooner or later (or at least I think so), but this felt like a rushed move. Also, as stated above, I thought the artwork had some inconsistencies.
I'm also left wondering what the point of Hugo Strange was if that's the last we'll see of him. I really hope a potentially interesting villain wasn't added just as a tool for Roy to elaborate on what's going on. So yeah, it goes without saying that the cover is quite misleading. That's a totally common thing, but I figured I'd throw it out there in case there's a handful of Hugo Strange fans out there who jumped for joy upon seeing it.
Tynion does a fine job giving Roy a relatable voice and the issue moves at a thoroughly entertaining pace. He's now moving all of the mystical and deadly pieces into place and establishing the basics --why there's a hit on their heads, who the two key sides are and what they allegedly want. The momentum is growing and finally, I'm legitimately excited for the next issue.