Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
Some Spoilers Ahead
If you thought it couldn’t get any better than last month’s introductory one-shot, well, you were wrong. Scott Lobdell and Dexter Soy are seemingly strutting with all the confidence of Black Mask because they’re well on their way to owning Gotham City. Even if you didn’t read Red Hood and the Outlaws in The New 52 days, know that it’s safe to jump on board right now. No Batfan will want to miss this because I believe it to be one of the strongest Rebirth debuts to this point.
Before I discuss some of the intricacies of the story, let me say that Soy is the perfect artist to lead us on this journey into the Gotham underworld. The fact that he also inks his own artwork allows his vision to be more fully realized as the various shadows thicken the atmosphere. Plus, the recreation of the iconic shot from A Death in the Family – only this time with Jason Todd holding Ma Gunn – was a stroke of genius, yet subtle enough that not everyone will catch the homage.
Speaking of Ma Gunn, her return was something I never expected. This throwback could have come off as campy in the wrong hands, but Lobdell (read my recent interview with him here) integrates her into modern continuity quite smoothly, while also fleshing out Jason’s history.
As Jason goes deep cover in the criminal underworld, he is forced to work alongside Black Mask, who is quite fearsome and happens to be a villain who naturally complements Jason. If we’re diving into the underworld like this, there’s probably no better villain to choose aside from Penguin. I also think his new mask is pretty cool; it’s different, yet doesn’t betray what we’ve become familiar with. It kind of reminds me of something Sid Wilson from Slipknot would wear.
Another thing I liked about this book was seeing Batman through the eyes of others. From that perspective, you learn new things about him. This title really gets to the core of Jason and you can’t do that without exploring his relationship with Bruce.
The creative team is thankfully not rushing things, but don’t mistake that for thinking the story is moving along slowly. You will get some payoff when Jason comes across someone who will go on to form the Dark Trinity with him, just don’t count on me to spoil whom that may be. In all honesty, this is easily the best Bat Family title that doesn’t star Batman himself – but it sure is giving the flagship books a run for their money.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment