RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #0
Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Pasqual Ferry, Ig Guara, and Brett Booth
Without a doubt this is the best issue of this title since its inception. I have often been hot or cold in reaction to this book, and definitely have not loved it as much as Rusty has. Nevertheless, this issue offers probably one of the best, streamlined explanations of Jason Todd’s origin, and offers it with a little wink and nod to the character’s convoluted history.
The story is told from Jason’s point of view and he does not back away from letting you know about his weaknesses of character, nor that of his parents. Jason’s origins are right on the money from his violent tendencies that had Batman bench him in the first place to his death at the hands of Joker. Although I think Scott Lobdell’s writing is a mess on Teen Titans and Superboy, he always has fun when Jason’s the main cog in the story on Red Hood and the Outlaws. It is almost as if Lobdell understands Jason is everyone’s least favorite Robin, and does not mind taking the character to fun and dark places. I especially liked Jason’s comments about his resurrection.
There is also a back-up story where we learn that the Joker had a hand in creating the new Red Hood. The story Joker tells about creating his own Robin only to kill him is a short, and wonderful twist to existing cannon that I actually found refreshing. I cannot believe I just wrote that.
The art by Pasqual Ferry is excellent throughout the book and I really liked the scenes depicting Jason enjoying his violent streak as Robin too much. Ig Guara and Brett Booth provide the art for the Joker back-up story and they both excel at it. All around the issue was very well illustrated.
There were two Robin origins this week and surprisingly Red Hood beat out Nightwing. I liked how we got a compare and contrast with Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne, but the fact that Dick guessed Bruce’s identity when that had been Tim Drake’s claim to fame rubbed me to wrong way. Red Hood was a far superior book.
FINAL WORD: Best issue of the series so far, and an excellent origin story for Jason Todd.
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick
Art by Phil Noto
I read the original incarnation of Ghost, which disappointed immediately after Adam Hughes left the interior artwork. This resurrection (pun intended) of the character at the hands of Kelly Sue Deconnick and Phil Noto was definitely worth another trip into this world. Vaughan Barnes is a former journalist now forced to moonlight as a cameraman for a lame paranormal cable TV series. While on a ghost hunt he and one other use a cutting edge piece of equipment to summon ghosts, and summon one they do.
After they initially summon the lady in white known as Ghost she continues to appear to them, and after awhile it is shown she can turn solid as well as become incorporeal. Two men come for the ghost catching machine and while Barnes and Tommy Byers are held up, Ghost goes into action killing one of the hired guns. Soon Barnes, Byers, and the Lady in White are on the run, dumping a dead body, and committed to the idea of finding out just who Ghost is.
The set up has much more complexity than it did in this title’s original incarnation. I particularly liked how Ghost was used, and the little nuances she can offer as a character. I am curious to learn more about Barnes and Byers along the way. Is Ghost this Resurrection Mary character they think she might be? Is she someone else? It will be fun trying to figure it out.
I love Phil Noto’s artwork and although it is a long way from the cheesecake that Hughes once brought to the title, he did a great job with the new style of the book. I also loved Deconnick’s reinterpretation of the character and the purpose of the title that will continue in a new mini-series.
FINAL WORD: An old series brought back in a wonderful and interesting way. Cannot wait for more.
Written by JH Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Art by JH Williams III
This issue is the perfect jumping on point for new readers and a great companion piece for those that have been with this title and the Detective Comics run Kate Kane was a part of. It is not a rehash of Kate’s story more than it is a brief summary of previous material and a further fleshing out of things that have been hinted at.
The narration of the issue is by Kate to her father right before she goes out on patrol. In it we discover how she was as a child, the type of relationship she had with her sister, what it was like growing up with her father and where life took her, and ultimately how she started down the path to becoming Batwoman. In a clever and telling twist Kate states she did not believe she had truly become Batwoman when she put on the costume and instead it was when she learned her sister was alive after her own father had spent years lying to her.
The art is, as always, gorgeous when JH Williams III is providing it. What has consistently struck me about Kate Kane was in how interesting a character she really is. Her origin is truly her own and not a Bat-Family traditional variation. She does not have severe ties to Batman himself. And most interestingly her father has served as a catalyst for her adventures. She is one of the small group of strong, engaging, and well-written female heroes around. This book was also one of my favorite reads this week.
FINAL WORD: Kate Kane might be the best-written female lead in any DC superhero comic at the moment. And this issue shows why.