Red Hood and the Outlaws: Scott Lobdell, Pasqual Ferry, Ig Guara, Brett Booth, Blond, Dezi Sienty, Kenneth Rocafort
So here’s something. This issue did very, very well at telling us a good, emotional story about Jason Todd…enough even to make me feel something for the Robin I never really cared about…and then it goes and screws it all up in the end.
This Zero Issue is literally the life story of Jason. Don’t expect to get any of the Outlaws in here. We start by meeting Jason’s parents when they were kids, falling in love (kind of?) and making Jason. The ish even goes so far as to explain Jason’s dad’s backstory a bit! So Jason grew up in the typical broken home full of fighting parents who are either committing crimes or drugged out of their minds. After they die, he goes to the streets to take care of himself.
It’s pretty impactful, actually, with each panel containing a good image that sticks. That’s not easy to do. Although, the art style changes in a few different places, and I can’t tell which is Ferry and which is Guara. I’m familiar with Guara, but not at all with Ferry, so it’s up in the air for me…as none of the work really reminds me of Blue Beetle or Teen Titans (when Guara filled for Booth).
We also meet Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who’s been absent for much of the New 52 (that I’ve seen) as well. So that’s really nice, to show that she was wanting Jason to have a second chance. It does end up changing Jason’s origin from the less-realistic “boosting the batmobile’s tires” to the much more believable stealing prescription drugs. I like this, for the aforementioned reason.
The story follows the preboot origins pretty well, after that, so enjoy that, Todd fans. It’s AFTER everything, the second story in the issue, where everything gets totally screwed over. Where Todd’s origin goes from a boy with nothing, overcoming all obstacles to become a hero alongside the legendary Batman, to nothing more than a scheme, a plan hatched by the Joker to prove a point to Batman…a means to an end.
Suddenly, Jason’s growth isn’t self-developed. It’s machinated. He didn’t make the choices he made in order to survive, he made them because they were unknowingly forced upon him by an outside force, a plotter: the Joker. Also, the reason I have a really hard time swallowing this addition to Jason’s story, is that for it to have worked, Joker would have to have known he would cross paths with Batman and that the Dark Knight would take sympathy on him, take him in and train him, and then offer him the role of Robin. I daresay Joker would almost have to know that Bruce Wayne is Batman, as well! How else does he explain Bruce Wayne taking in Jason Todd, and then Batman getting a new Robin six months later?
So that much was really frustrating. The only good part about this second story is the artwork by Brett Booth. It’s quite different from his style in Teen Titans, and I think that’s because he either inked it himself, or did that thing where he pencils it so well it doesn’t need inks (yeah, he can do that). It has a heavy 90s style, too, which I really liked.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #0, the verdict: So there’s Jason’s story, retold for the DCnU. I can’t help but think there are lots of Todd fans out there pulling their hair out and screaming over the decision to make Joker the “man who created Red Hood.” To me, it just doesn’t make sense. There were way too many variables, and far too many coincidences within the equation to build Jason Todd into Batman’s next Robin, only so he could kill him later. Luckily, the entire issue is filled with really great artwork, every panel of which I enjoyed. It’s a touching, emotional story that feels farted on by this Joker story in the back. How like the Joker.
(Photo Source: DC Comics)