Oh boy! I think this is going to be good. Let’s review, shall we?
Jason had his memory wiped because he was tired of his life sucking, Arsenal is determined to get Jason his memories back whether he wants them or not, Starfire was just revealed to be lying about her poor memory skills.,Ducra and the Proctor are manipulating the Outlaws for an unknown purpose, the worlds’ assassins are going to be hunting the Outlaws down at the behest of some unknown financier, and Green Arrow is coming into town to save his ex-partner in crime fighting, Roy Harper. It sounds like a good time to me. Let’s get to it.
Does Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #1 show that James Tynion can deliver solid action as well as drama or is this going to be another issue which gives Hoodies a conniption fit?
In this issue, Green Arrow and Cheshire pay a visit to the Outlaws’ island.
Just Like Old Times
This issue felt much more like the series did under Scott Lobdell’s (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer of Teen Titans, Superman and Action Comics) pen that Tynion’s (current writer of Talon, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and Batman)past two issues, and that’s a bit of a mixed blessing.
The main thing that this issue has in common with Lobdell’s run is that the action is back to it’s previous level of intensity. The Outlaws fight quite a bit, and there is also a fun line or two of dialogue. The story is definitely not slow covering a good bit of ground in its forty or so pages.
Also like Lobdell’s run, a lot of elements feel thrown in at random. For instance, Cheshire plays the part of the main villain in this issue, but in addition to her martial arts prowess and skill with toxins, Tynion changed her to have some superpowers which…seem a bit out of place to me. I suppose as new unexplained power go, they are okay, but she would have been a much more impressive threat if she had managed to keep the Outlaws on their toes without this new power. I suspect that fans of Cheshire from previous series will probably be outraged by the idea that she needs to rely on superhuman abilities now to be one of the world’s best assassins.
Similarly, Bronze Tiger makes an appearance in this issue, and as has already been made clear by the drawings released earlier this month, he has now been transformed into a feline form rather than simply being a man with a Tiger theme. It seemed a bit odd in the earlier released character design sketches, but it actually seemed ever more peculiar when he was shown without explanation here.
An Origin for Arsenal
From the solicits, it appears as if this issue would be geared around Arsenal, but Jason fans will be happy to know that Red Hood gets some significant, if brief, development his own. Starfire plays her usual role of being the muscle and little else though the issue of her memory is still in play. However, Roy is indeed the star in this issue, and his past and present with Green Arrow share the spotlight with the attack from Cheshire.
As origins go, this one seems pretty good to me, but I’m not terribly attached to Roy’s pre-Flashpoint early days, and this very well be anathema to someone who loves those old stories. In the DCNU, Roy essentially acted as the tech support for Ollie’s war on crime. He was a petty thief in his early years much like Roy on Arrow (I suspect Tynion was encouraged to unify the two presentations which means we might be getting insight into the future of Roy Harper in this coming season of Arrow) before being recruited by Ollie. Roy wanted to get out in the field and Ollie would not let him partially because of concern for his safety and partially because Roy was an alcoholic. This story seems to work well in the DCNU portrayal of the characters, and it does establish that older brother/younger brother vibe between the two that characterized their relationship before Flashpoint. However, it does minimize Roy’s fall from grace if he always struggled with alcoholism.
Hugo Strange is seen in the past as Roy’s psychiatrist. The exact nature of his role in events should be quite interesting as things develop.
My only complaint about Arsenal’s origin in this issue is that crucial information is still missing. No doubt, Tynion wants to string this out for a later reveal, but this is somewhat annoying. Still, I suppose the teasing is fair game.
I have not been a fan of Julius Gopez’s (former cover artist for Devil’s Due’s Dragons of Spring Dawning and penciler of The Ravagers and current artist for Red Hood and the Outlawsand Earth 2) art on the RHATO’s regular series. Thankfully, there is a different art team working on the annual. Al Barrionuevo (former penciler of Gotham Knights and Teen Titans and current artist of Red Hood and the Outlaws) handles the art in this issue, and I much prefer him to Gopez though he’s still not my favorite. His art strikes me as a bit cartoony, and it does not seem to jibe too well with the tone of the book. There is nothing wrong with his work, (except perhaps some slightly off faces. GA’s domino mask always looks off) and some pages are quite nice, but it never really wows. The coloring also feels a bit to simple though I lack the artistic sensibilities to pinpoint what exactly is wrong.
1. The vehicle GA flies is kind of odd. Is this a product of Justice League of America or Green Arrow’s own series? Somebody drop me a line if you know. Just curious because it doesn’t seem particularly like Green Arrow.
2. I did enjoy the Roybots.
3. Obviously, there must have been something that caused Ollie to reach out to Roy and recruit him. I assume GA doesn’t generally pick his potential team members from prison cells, but I’m willing for this to be revealed later.
(Spoilers until Conclusion)
4. This is the second time in the last couple of months I’ve seen someone rescued by a catchall set of poison antidotes. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way, but I suppose I should do some research and write an article on it.
5. I didn’t care for Cheshire’s teleportation power, but I do like her use of poisons. Despite being outmatched in terms of power big time, she held her own in a manner I thought was reasonable because she had planning, surprise, and a concoction of chemicals.
6. It will be interesting to see what happens next with Jason.
This was a pretty fun issue, but it felt just a tad scattered and I didn’t care for Cheshire’s new power. Still, this is a solid purchase for any RHATO fan.
Jeremy is a a collaborator for DKN, but he also has his own Batman site called BatWatch.net. You can check him out there as well. See his other Batman book reviews down below of your favorite Batman universe characters.