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Red Hood and the Outlaws misses the point of the New 52 and doesn’t manage to do much right. The point of the re-launch is to entertain and enrapture new readers into comic books by starting a new story and not expecting the reader to know much. This comics expects you to be a connoisseur on Red Hood and Roy Harper history. None of the characters are likeable, the story is barely there, and the artwork is nowhere near as great as expected.
The comic opens on our only action scene where Red Hood (the second Robin, Jason Todd, who went crazy after dying), rescues Green Arrow’s old sidekick Speedy, with some help from Tamaranian Princess Starfire. The motley crew continues to stay together and enjoys some time on the beach… and in bed.
The only good part of the story is some of the dialogue between Roy Harper and Jason Todd. They usually have witty retorts for each other, but these retorts are completely lost on new readers which is why the issue immediately starts out by missing the point of the New 52. Most of their talk references previous moments in comic book history, like Jason betraying Batman and Roy Harper’s rocky relationship with Green Arrow. But no origin for the two is given in this issue, so if you are seeing Roy Harper for the first time you don’t even get to see an A.K.A. former sidekick of Green Arrow. There is a great, short introduction to Starfire’s character that explains her origin well and was ironically not needed with her, but instead was needed for everyone else. This is because Starfire’s character is completely changed in this issue.
Fans of Starfire will not be happy. I’m not a follower, but even I was offended by how slutty her character was made in this issue. She does not care who she is sleeping with and does not even remember her old lover Dick Grayson because of some new alien characteristic writer Scott Lobdell introduces.
The story also hinders the characters since it gives them little to do. After the break-out in the beginning there are no more action sequences. And the action in the beginning was pretty solid. So why am I watching these characters lie on a beach for the rest of the issue? Oh, and they talk about banging Starfire. Red Hood also gets a visit from the Essence, which completely loses me. Without knowing the connection between Red Hood and Essence the story becomes confusing and uninteresting.
The art is also not very interesting. It’s not bad but not as amazing as I expected. Kenneth Rocafort is a great artist who has done wonderful work for Top Cow. His artistic style did not translate well into the DC Universe. The characters sometimes look like they’re wearing eyeliner and none have very interesting designs – except for Starfire who seems to be given all the artistic attention. There’s a full panel of Starfire in a bikini that should be in a pin-up calendar and not this comic. It’s also the best looking artwork in the comic, featuring a beautiful and tranquil tropical backdrop.
This starts out as an action-packed issue but quickly dies down. Nothing happens that isn’t confusing and there is never an explanation of anything going on. The characters, with the exception of Red Hood, have no motivation to be in the story and do not need to be there. None of them (and there is no exception here) are likable. Jason Todd is boring. Roy Harper is annoying and Starfire has become a ho. The art only impresses me when Starfire’s on the scene, but than I remember what they’ve done to her character and I go back to hating it. The banter between Red Hood and Roy is good but incomprehensible to the layman. And with this issue, you find yourself not caring about looking up the character’s history. Instead you just want to read something about ANYONE else. If you’re just interested in sex, which this issue seems to promote, you can still pick up an issue of Playboy – it’s not too late!