Overview: In Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Red Hood #2, Joker sets out bring Red Hood’s attention back toward killing the Clown Prince of Crime.
Title: Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Red Hood #2
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Nikola Cizmesija
Colors: Rex Lokus
Letters: Troy Peteri
Main Cover: Carmine di Giandomenico
Variant Covers: Dustin Nguyen & Riley Rossmo
Release Date: October 24, 2023
Please Note: This comic book review may contain spoilers
A week ago, former henchmen-turned-thieves Simpson and Brinks are pulling a heist, discussing the death of fellow thief Bash (presumably killed by Scarecrow in Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Red Hood #1). As the two thieves drive away, relishing in their success, they find the Joker sitting in the backseat of their car. Joker wants to relay a message to Red Hood (Jason Todd), who has been helping train Catwoman’s thieves. The Clown Prince of Crime worries that Red Hood has dropped the ball on finding him, and he can’t have attention taken away from Hood’s quest to kill Joker.
Across town, Red Hood busts up some thugs in a bar, demanding to know where Scarecrow is. Catwoman (Selina Kyle) interrupts his brawl, issuing a warning to Hood. The two step outside, and Selina levels with Jason, telling him that Bash’s death isn’t on his hands. Scarecrow used them as an excuse to kill someone because he’s sick. It’s a moment of clarity from Catwoman, which feels surprising in this series, as much of Catwoman’s mannerisms and actions seem wildly erratic and simplistic throughout much of Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War.
Catwoman then gives Hood a pep talk, reminding the former Robin that she brought him on because of his passion, which is strange. When Hood isn’t written as some overly violent, kill-happy anti-hero, he’s typically portrayed as an undercover arm of the Bat-family, reporting back to Batman (Bruce Wayne) of the goings-on of criminals. One would assume that Catwoman is well aware of this and would shy away from Hood. That said, it’s not writer Matthew Rosenberg’s fault that these are where the chips have landed. Rosenberg is continuing his Red Hood saga through The Gotham War, using the cards dealt to weave together a narrative that fits within the overarching, albeit nonsensical, plot points of Chip Zdarsky and Tini Howard’s battle of Bat vs Cat.
When Hood asks Selina if she only showed up to give him a talking-to, she tells him that there’s someone who urgently wants to see him. In comes Ravager (Rose Wilson), but she’s not the person that wants to see Red Hood. It’s Brinks, whose body Ravager finds in some bushes near the meeting spot. His eyes have been clawed it, seemingly self-inflicted, which could have been a side-effect of Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Ravager checks Brinks’ pockets, finding the note given to him by Joker. It’s a list of locations, written out to Red Hood.
Red Hood hands the note back to Ravager, ordering her to give it to Manhunter, who can make sense of it all. Jason, on the other hand, has another task at hand. He’s going after Scarecrow, promising to meet back up with Rose in 48 hours.
Time flashes forward in a series of panels, letting readers know that in the next 48 hours, the events of Catwoman #57 and Batman #138 take place. While Ravager waits, Hood is abducted by Batman and taken out of the equation. Ravager calls Marquise, who we now from the events of Batman #138 is Scandal Savage, daughter of Vandal Savage. Vandal orders his daughter to free Hood, as he could be very useful to them. For readers keeping tabs on The Gotham War, we already know this happens.
Meanwhile, Joker paces back and forth. He’s upset that Hood hasn’t found him, and it’s Solomon Grundy and one other who reveals that Hood has been abducted by Batman. Days later, Black Mask (Roman Sionis), Two-Face (Harvey Dent), Victor Zsasz, and Professor Pyg are talking about the events of The Gotham War while they wait for their host, Scandal Savage.
This leapfrogging through time is frustrating and exhausting. Whereas the beginning of this issue picked up from the events of last issue, this whole middle section feels like filler and an incredible waste of space. Though artist Nikola Cizmesija tries to panel everything asymmetrical boxes, it’s a boring and uninspired read.
Through Dent and Black Mask, readers are reminded that Red Hood is mentally broken after what Batman did to him. Elsewhere, Red Hood is running free, scared out of his mind. He comes upon a building that Scarecrow lights on fire, then rushes in to save a girl. Before he can leave, Scarecrow arrives, and Hood collapses to the floor in terror. Scarecrow notices that Jason is genuinely mortified. This vexes him, and there’s no fun in scaring someone who’s already squirming with fear from Batman of all people.
Before Scarecrow can finish off Red Hood, Joker arrives. The two villains fight, and it’s an anime-style flurry of pain. Truly, the battle between the two is an eyesore. Thankfully, it ends quickly. Scarecrow runs away screaming, leaving Joker to Hood. He promises to fix the former Robin, but before he can do anything, deus ex machina rears its ugly face again, and a wooden beam falls on them.
Joker bails, as he can hear voices signaling the arrival of help. The issue ends with Red Hood sitting in the fire, a wooden beam pinning him to the ground.
A Painful Read
Let’s not sugar-coat it. Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Red Hood #2 is awful. While the dialogue isn’t as bad as Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Battle Lines #1, the art throughout this issue is mostly an eyesore, coming across as if penciled and colored in a rush. That’s seemingly the most logical explanation, as the creative team on this book usually turns in high-quality and awe-inspiring art in other titles. Aside from weak art, that doesn’t help lift up a slapped-together story, half of the book is devoted to reminding readers of events and plot points that already happened, and paired with what little actual story there is in this title, it’s a slurry of disjointed, poorly paced nonsense.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with an advanced copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.