Reader’s Guide to the New DC Universe

Reader’s Guide to the New DC Universe: Red Hood and the Outlaws

Each weekday, Tim will take a look at what we know about each of the upcoming 52 new comics from the September DC relaunch, one series at a time. Today: RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS!

The Concept and Characters: Jason Todd has had one of the strangest histories of any character in the DCU, and if you know anything about the DCU, then you realize what a bold statement that is. Here’s a character who was the second incarnation of Robin, before hitting a revamp post-Crisis on Infinite Earths into more of a hoodlum-who-became Robin, then the fans voted to kill him off by dialing a 1-900 number, but, a decade-and-a-half later, he was brought back to life by the Superboy from another dimension punching at the walls of reality, before he became a multiversal continuity cop, then a street-level vigilante who followed the equation of Batman + More Violence and Murder = Better Vigilante, and now he’s leading a team of “outlaw” superheroes?

Yes, that is new status quo for the Red Hood, apparently. And, just to add to the insanity, his team of outlaw superheroes features Arsenal, a.k.a. Speedy, the former Green Arrow sidekick who was also a smack addict before losing his arm, then losing his illegitimate daughter in an explosion and sliding back into drug use and hallucinations involving dead cats.

The other member of the team is a space princess.

In the it’s-so-crazy-it-might-work lottery, the concept of this comic has a better chance of success than imaginary team-ups like Psimon and Mammoth: Prison Pals but less of a chance of success than almost any other comic starring characters who used to hang around with Batman and Green Arrow. Still, it’s fascinating that someone thought to put these three characters into a comic and launch it as something that might appeal to a wider audience.

The Creative Team: Scott Lobdell writes, and Kenneth Rocafort draws. Lobdell is a veteran scripter, but although he has his fans from his lengthy stay in the fields of the X-Men, he has never written anything that you might call legitimately good. X-Men good maybe, and his High Roads series with Leinil Yu was some swift-moving fun, but he doesn’t have a strong enough writing voice to make his comics more than a collection of events. Rocafort is an expressive stylist who makes the layers of his sketchy linework a part of his finished process. His stuff doesn’t look like anyone else’s, which is a bonus, but his not so powerful a stylist that he can overcome a generic script.

Recommendation: Take a look at issue #1, but it’s probably safe to skip it. This series sounds like a train wreck of a concept with a writer who won’t be able to do anything interesting with it, but it could also be a crazy fun team up between a resurrected superhero, a drug addict, and a princess from beyond the stars. Unfortunately, it probably will be nothing more than a story about a guy with guns, a guy with arrows, and a girl with laser beams shooting at bad guys. Flip through the issue to see how far it goes off those boring old rails.


Tim Callahan writes about comics for Tor.com, Comic Book Resources, Back Issue magazine, and his own Geniusboy Firemelon blog.

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