Happy Holidays from the DC universe! I was a little weary when I found out that this year’s annual for Red Hood and the Outlaws was going to be Christmas themed. However, Lobdell was able to capture the magic of the holidays and subsequently present the Outlaws with new challenges that have the potential to be consequential to the monthly series. Divided into four chapters, the book is beautiful from start to finish and uses pacing to keep the tension just below the breaking point for a majority of the issue. Furthermore, the wild and ridiculous nature in which the holiday characters are handled was over the top in all the right ways. This issue is fun, fresh, and a welcome break from the normally somber tone of this series.
There is nothing more exciting than being a kid on Christmas morning. The twinkle of the lights on the tree, presents stacked neatly in a row, and of course the thought of Santa sneaking in to leave gifts for good girls and boys. However, if you happen to be a child Outlaw, a terrifyingly jolly Suzie Su stands at the foot of your tree in place of Santa. These first couple of pages set the bizarre yet wonderful tone for the rest of the issue. Seeing the youthful Outlaws wage war against the makeshift Santa was wildly comical only to be topped by the chiding they receive from Batman. Seeing Batman merely reprimand the Outlaws for committing murder in Wayne Manor is first indicator that something is very wrong with reality.
In search of the real Santa, the youthful Outlaws commandeer a sleigh they find on the rooftop and make their way towards the North Pole. Upon their arrival, the troop is faced with a rabid herd of reindeer. The art direction in these panels perfectly captures the nonsensical nature of the context. Holiday themed shenanigans continue before it is revealed that the entire experience was an illusion placed into the consciousness of Jason Todd by an otherworldly being.
Scott Lobdell seamlessly transitions from the nonsensical antics of our youthful Outlaws to Jason Todd being faced with a serious threat. The reveal at the end of the issue is reason enough for the reader to revisit the issue as a whole. I would recommend this annual to all fans of the DC universe, even if they were not particularly fond of Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Seeing the Outlaws in childlike forms was both fun and well executed. Furthermore, connecting a holiday themed issue to thought provoking plot points made the issue feel like a solid entry into the ongoing monthly series. I am looking forward to seeing where Lobdell takes this series moving into the New Year.