The Outlaws team up with the Teen Titans to battle Gotham citizens under the influence of the Joker toxin. Meanwhile the teams respective leaders Jason Todd and Tim Drake are still held captive by The Joker, who is putting the finishing touches to his plan to take out another two of Batman's trusted allies.
This was an enjoyable enough issue with a big spotlight put onto Roy Harper and his having to step up and lead not only the Outlaws but also the Teen Titans as well. The overall story in this issue was pretty basic, the two teams team up to battle Joker toxin effected civilians while having to deal with typical team up/crossover drama of who is in charge? How can a hero with no powers survive these types of battles? And of course typical quips and insults about intelligence and ability and so, ultimately coming together to do what has to be done. Very basic and predictable stuff here that in all honestly felt like a one shot filler crossover of these teams than an important piece of the larger Death of the Family puzzle that last issue started off being. Timothy Green's art in this issue again was quite good, the highlight of which was the scene between Killer Croc and Roy Harper, which I'll go into in a little bit.
This issue also teased what is to come (provided the creative team change doesn't effect these plans) for this title. We got two one page cameo's from Hugo Strange who it seems is a self help author and Deathstroke who was in the middle of preparing himself to take on the Outlaws. Potentially these are quite exciting developments going forward as it provides two different types of challenges for this team to face off with.
In Deathstroke we should be provided with an exciting and violent battle which is sure to highlight the team work of the Outlaws. Like Batman, Deathstroke studies his opponents in order to find the most effective way to kill them. A prepared Deathstroke is a tough match for almost any character in the DCU and over the years he has had epic battles with the Teen Titans and Nightwing. This has the potential to be a fun action story arc for the book.
In Hugo Strange we have the potential of a dark psychological war between himself and three very mentally damaged individuals who's dark pasts could be used against them. An interesting way to explore more backstory of this series three leads while also establishing Hugo Strange in the new 52 and potentially as an ongoing villain for this title. Building a rouges gallery is an important step in growing a series. All the best characters have ongoing villains, this series so far has none. Hugo Strange and Deathstroke could be great starting points for a rouges gallery for this title going forward, we'll have to wait and see how these characters and the stories they are featured in are handled by the new creative team.
The highlight of this whole issue however was the flashback of Killer Croc's intervention of Roy Harper. Since it was first mentioned that Croc was Roy's sponsor, I was curious to see Croc's intervention, but his continued relationship with Roy going forward. I'm hoping that along with the Hugo Strange and Deathstroke teases, this thread is picked up and explored in detail in future issues. It would help to really develop Roy as a character and by giving him a detailed back story. As a reader there is more emotional investment for that character as so from a singular character point of view only Jason has really been truly developing consistently while Roy and Kori have been stop-start depending on the particular arc. As a team book, equal weight should be placed on each character, the stronger the characters individually, the stronger the title as a whole will be. The other character that will benefit from this aspect of Roy's life being explored will be Killer Croc who is often portrayed as nothing more than a monster. Exploring his involvement in Roy's life would add much needed additional layers to this character and even make him somewhat sympathetic opening up more possibilities of how he could be used not only in this title, but others across the batman universe of books down the road.
My problem with this book and now with Scott Lobdell's contribution to the Death of the Family story is what I can only describe as a failed opportunity to tell a really compelling four issue crossover in which one issue would lead into the next making all four issues can't miss for fans of either or both series. I felt it started off strong with last month's Red Hood and the Outlaws and hasn't picked up since. As I've said a couple of times now this issue wasn't too bad at all, however we had one single panel of Jason and Tim in the entire issue. This whole crossover might have been better served intercutting the stories of Jason and Tim's capture by Joker and their respective teams coming to attempt a rescue over all four issues instead of how it was presented in Red Hood and the Outlaws and Teen Titans #15 and #16. The advantage of writing both books would've allowed Lobdell to present that or a similar scenario that would've been far more compelling as a self contained story and a more important element of the Death of the Family story. Not bad, but a big fall from last months enjoyable and promising start.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #16:
Reviewed by David Cook