James Tynion IV (current writer of Talon, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and Batman) has steadily grown as one my favorite writers since he started Talon, but I was dismayed to find myself disappointed in last months' Red Hood and the Outlaws. It was not really a bad issue, but it felt off as Roy and Kori stalked across the tundra to find Jason without any obvious motivation. Throw in a couple of lackluster fights, and you've pretty much summed up the last issue of RHATO except for the big reveal at the end where we learned that Jason had his mind wiped to forget all his pain. This concept intrigues me, but I can only hope that Tynion picks up the pace a little in this issue.
Does RHATO #20 restore the fun vibe the series used to have or will Hoodies need a mind wipe when all is said and done?
In this issue, S'aru the Proctor gives Roy and Kori some insights into Jason's life.
Now This Is More Like It
This issue was much better, yet it did not address one my main complaints about the last issue. One of the things that annoyed me most about the previous issue is it failed to add any humor or fun action sequences into the mix, and really, this issue is the same way. However, this issue feels fresh and gripping because all the action is happening on an emotional level. S'aru might not be trading blows with the Outlaws in the physical sense, but he is definitely taking swings at them emotionally.
S'aru takes the Outlaws into Red Hood's memories and allows them to see first hand the pain that poor old Jason has endured. Some of the scenes were simple rehashes of previously established events, but other moments, like the first meeting between Arsenal and Jason, shed new light on the Outlaws' relationships and Jason's psyche. S'aru's main target is Roy who desperately wants to restore Jason's mind and is willing to use force to force S'aru, but the Proctor also has some medicine for Starfire, and he sews some serious strife into the team.
Julius Gopez (former cover artist for Devil's Due's Dragons of Spring Dawning and penciler of The Ravagers and current artist for Red Hood and the Outlaws) is the artist that joined the book last issue with James Tynion IV, and I was less than trilled with his work last time. Thankfully, it has also improved this issue. Whereas last issue, everybody looked like their faces were carved out of wood, this issue actually featured people who looked more or less like people. There are still some funky and unnatural expressions most frequently to be found on Roy's face, but the art in general and the faces in particular looked pretty good. I also enjoyed, though this trick was only done once, a panel where the memories floated around the Outlaws in bubbles, and Kori stuck her hand through one of the bubbles and into a memory. That was a cool effect.
The art really seemed to have an entirely different tone this issue. Whereas last issue felt like it was going for gritty and realistic, this issue felt a bit more exaggerated. The colors were also much more vivid, so colorist Nei Ruffino (former colorist for Birds of Prey and Zenescope's Grimm's Fairy Tales and current colorist for Red Hood and the Outlaws and cover artist for Supergirl) deserves some love, but considering that most of last issue took place in the snow, there might be a reasonable explanation for the better use of colors this time.
Familiar Faces with Unfamiliar Motives
We see a slew of semi-familiar faces this issue, and many of their appearances raise questions. In one memory, Jason is shown working with a group of brutal mercenaries the leader of which was named Ben. This was probably the first appearance of the promised Bronze Tiger who is black and named Ben just like this character, but from my understanding of the character, Bronze Tiger was not a man who murdered for money. Also, Bronze Tiger looked much more trim previously than this version of the character, and of course there is the little issue that the DCNU Bronze Tiger, who was revealed by DC a week or so ago, was an actual humanoid Tiger, so a lot of questions are up in the air on this one.
Also, a woman who was probably Cheshire was seen with this group, and a guy who looked like pre-Flashpoint Green Arrow was also visible, but he was using a sword, so it probably has no connection.
Ducra, Essence and S'aru are all in play as well, and it is very difficult to determine what their angle is in all these events. Finally, a fairly major guest star makes an appearance at the very end, so get ready for some crossover action in Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual.
1. This whole issue actually poses a rather interesting moral dilemma. If a friend chose to mind wipe him or herself and you had the ability to restore their memories, would you do it or allow them to go without their memories?
2. Starfire fans have great cause to rejoice. I actually considered the general scenario that Tynion laid out in this issue. Too bad I never voiced it on record so I could appear to be a genius. Now if Tynion will just get Kori some clothes, she can be a respectable character again.
3. Is it just me, or is it nice to actually see some trick arrows every one in awhile?
I was truly worried about Tynion's run on RHATO, but my fears have been greatly alleviated. I do hope that some more fun comes into this series because it is still pretty heavy for a book which has been mostly light, but as long as Tynion keeps writing solid stories with good characters, I'm game. Anybody interested in the issue should check it out.
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