After finding an overdosed Isabel, Jason is forced to run from the police only to be captured by the Joker. As with all the other members of the bat family, Jason is forced to relieve the most traumatic moments of his life with the added twist, the Joker claims that he has pulled the strings in Jason's life all along from his father's arrest, his mother's overdose, his rise to the role of Robin all leading to his death. Jason tries to escape Joker's trap only to stumble upon Red Robin Tim Drake as Starfire and Roy Harper attempt to save their friend.
This title has come a long way since it’s launch in 2011. When its started it received a critical bashing as well as fan backlash for it’s unusual opening storyline as well as it’s portrayal of the female lead Starfire, especially in issue #1. How far this title has come. Scott Lobdell has managed to develop the characters and their relationships to make this title quite compelling. From the budding relationship between Starfire and Roy Harper, to Jason not only growing as the leader of “The Outlaws” but his relationships with not only both Starfire and Roy but his unique relationships with the bat family, in particular Tim Drake.
With quality of character building, we also have seen the start of the variety of stories that can be told with these three characters as well as unique interactions with many of the DC Universe's non bat family characters such as we saw last issue with Superman. From space adventures, to all out action and more personal characters driven pieces drawing on these characters rich histories, which brings us to our current issue.
The seeds of this issue were planted a few months ago with the back-up of issue #0 where the Joker narrated over the back-up stating he was behind all of the key moments in the life of Jason Todd. That is the basis of this issue, making it a personal one for Jason. While in other titles we have seen key events re-created to torment and take down the bat family in a personal way, while the same thing is taking place here, the story in this instance feels more personal with the added element that Joker may have been pulling Jason’s strings all his life. While Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been the architects of the Death of the Family event, credit must be given in this case to Scott Lobdell and Timothy Green II for not only creating an interesting plot twist that is actually paying off with Jason Todd's origins but also creating a thicker layer to the overall Death of the Family arc in both story and art.
The art has been a strong point of this title especially the depiction of Jason/Red Hood. This was no exception to that as I have enjoyed Timothy Green II's art during his run. The inclusion of a plainer looking Red Hood helmet resembling the one we first saw Jason wearing in Under the Hood all those years ago was a nice touch as that was Jason and Joker's last interaction (at least in old continuity) making the art choice a cool little call back. I did have a couple of minor art gripes though. First was the color choice here. I'm a fan of the standout color scheme this title usually uses as it really compliments the art and story tone. This is a darker story with a more personal feel, I would've liked to have seen the coloring here reflect that with a darker edge to it. Simple things like more shading over faces and duller colors during the Jason and Joker confrontation would've added a little more to the overall issue. My only other gripe is Starfire's costume. I was a fan of the Tamaran armor used during the last arc and would've liked to have seen her use it going forward as opposed to the bikini style costume she is famous for. It would've reflected visually the character growth from the previous arc as story wise here it was always going to be Jason heavy. Minor gripes that for myself didn't take too much away from the overall issue.
This was an enjoyable story set-up in issue #0 and works as a Red Hood and the Outlaws solo arc as well as part of the deep story line of the Death of the Family event. With a nice little cliffhanger at the end involving a cameo from the only bat family member Jason seems to get along with in Tim Drake, there is a lot to not only enjoy in this issue but plenty to look forward to over the next few issues as we get to see how this will all wrap up, but the after effects of this story as well.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #15:
Reviewed by David Cook