A lot has happened since the close of Red Hood and the Outlaws #16. If you have not had the opportunity to read Batman #17, turn back now. But if you are ready, then so am I! Let’s move forward to Red Hood and the Outlaws #17.
The start of the story sees Jason calling for Kori and Roy to come pick him up as they all head out to Wayne Manor. Jason has short conversation with Damian and Dick before making his way to the cave to speak with Bruce. Along the way we get to see some an interesting moments between Damian and Roy as they bond over a game of catch. Bruce and Jason seem to have come to an understanding and after their talk, Jason leaves the cave. In fact, he decides it is time to leave Wayne Manor altogether and in a tear-jerker of a goodbye Alfred reassures Jason that the manor will always be his home. As Jason puts on his hood to go he is greeted by a message from the Joker – Jason has ruined his joke and he is going to have his revenge. Gas fills into the hood and although Batman does get it off it, the damage is already done. Dramatic chords, gasps of shock commence.
If you are a Jason Todd fan and have been enjoying this title since the New 52 this is the story you have been waiting to read. We are presented with a true character story; there is almost no action in it all except the last few panels, and it is all the better for it.
The interaction between Jason and Damian is extremely well written and ends on a depressingly low note. Jason did try to extend the olive branch but it was slapped away. Why can’t we all just get along? I have always thought that these two really should be friends considering both of their pasts. Unfortunately, due to the events of Batman Incorporated #8 we may never get to see these two move into a better place. But we do get some really fun scenes between Roy and Damian as the two of them get into a schoolyard fight ending in both of the exclaiming “he started it!” Obviously, Roy’s maturity level is right on par with Damian who, for those of you don’t know, is all of ten years old. However entertaining that is, it does actually serve a purpose by positioning Jason as the clear leader of our little team.
Speaking of Jason, Kori is extremely relieved to see him alive and well though she does not dare step foot in Wayne Manor wither her former lover hiding out in costume doing backflips around the place. In Jason and Dick’s nice little conversation, Dick makes Jason swear to keep her safe. I understand the “you have to look after the girl” speech, but let’s face it, in this super team only one member has super powers and it is her. The odds are she will be the one protecting him. Let’s hear it for girl power! You would think that either Dick or Kori would be adult enough to have a conversation with the other one but alas, it is not to be. How sad when we are close enough to taste what an interesting exchange that would be.
The truth is nobody picked up this issue to see anything other than Jason and Bruce. Bruce gives us a fall-out-of-the-chair- moment when he tells Jason that while he does not approve of his methods, he cannot argue with the results. Although I personally agree with what Bruce is saying, it is not normally something you would think he would say. Bruce also squashes the notion that Joker was the man behind the curtain pulling the strings in his life. Jason is the man he is because that is who he wanted to be. This whole exchange is what I wanted to see for some time and it works well to move the story forward in the book. Since Jason was resurrected, so much time has been devoted to the angst between him and Bruce. Thankfully, we can now we can move past it. Jason also has a quick chat with Alfred on the way out. While Jason is taking a look in at his old room Alfred asks if he is going to stay for few nights and reassures him that Wayne Manor is his home. And that, my friends, is that.
At this point in the story you simply cannot make an argument against Jason being a full-fledged member of the Bat Family once again. He is, period. And honestly, hooray! Ever since Jason crawled out of a Lazarus Pit this is what I have wanted to see.
Of course, the feel-good mojo was going to have to come to an end. As Jason puts the hood back on, it becomes clear that all that fiddling with the hood by Joker was him leaving a surprise for Jason, executing a final joke. Joker does not like the fact that Jason ruined his punch line by coming back from the dead. At this point, it is unclear as to what direction we are going with this but I could speculate that we may be getting a slightly different look for Jason moving forward. The fact that he wears a full hood may come in handy. I am sure those of you who were reading the issue knew we would not get to see him ride off into the sunset but oh, how I wish we did. Once again the future is uncertain for our group of heroes.
The timing is debatable in this book. It is set after Death of the Family and after Jason and Damian worked together in Batman Incorporated but before Batman Incorporated #8. If Jason does end up permanently scarred, it would also have to be before the end of Batman #17. It is a bit of a mess, unless I am missing something obvious… maybe both?
Also, in the last issue we were teased with Hugo Strange and Deathstroke and we get nothing from them at all, not even a quick cut scene. I am not saying that they should have been in this issue; I say they should not have been in the last issue. What a can of worms.
The artwork in this issue continues to be excellent. If you have been enjoying it up this point then you will be gratified once more. The cover is cool, I mean seriously cool! Like, “if you find out what date it goes on sale as a poster, let me know and I will preorder” kind of cool.
One last note. For you close readers out there, be sure pay attention to what is really going on in this story and not just what is happening on the surface. There is a lot here to keep an eye on. The redemption of Jason Todd is upon us – he operates with the blessing of the Bat, he will always have a home at Wayne Manor and he does not get along great with Dick Grayson. Welcome back to the family, Jason!
By the way if you are a reader of this series I would recommend that you pick up DC Universe Presents #17 which features Roy with appearances from Kori and Jason.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #17:
Reviewed by Ed Grause