Red Hood and the Outlaws #18 – Scott Lobdel, Writer; Sergio Sandoval, Penciller; Juan Albarran, Inker; Michael Atiyeh, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Note: Corrina has withdrawn from reading this series as she does not enjoy it.
Red Hood and the Outlaws has been very up and down over the course of its current run, with the new crop of characters accompanying Jason giving the book some new life – but with the old bad habits never far behind. Red Hood and the Outlaws #18, focusing on Bizarro, is definitely one of the better ones of the run, even as it oddly begins abruptly with Queen Bee – now calling herself the Hive Queen – taunting the heroes. She’s not much more than a plot device, though, as she’s quickly defeated by Red Hood with the help of Bizarro’s new technology. However, Bizarro has his own, bigger problems – inside his mind, as his newfound intelligence starts to fade, bringing with it bizarre side effects. Those side effects include an odd chibi Superman, Pup Pup, who taunts Bizarro and threatens to tell his secret. As his mind starts to deteriorate, Bizarro starts to act more and more erratic.
This issue has a lot going for it, particularly in the stories of two of its three lead characters. Jason Todd’s search for answers from the mysterious Ma Gunn (his childhood criminal mentor) starts a new mystery as he finds her missing with an odd message. But it’s Bizarro that dominates the story, as he becomes more determined to leave a legacy before he returns to being a mindless brute – and that takes the form of an increasingly elaborate, Orwellian approach to crimefighting. The arrival of the Creeper as a potential fourth member – and maybe a replacement for Bizarro, per his intentions – causes some conflict in the team, but you’ll notice I never mentioned Artemis yet. That’s because she has little to nothing to do. She fights a bit with Creeper, stands and observes the fight scenes, and that’s about it. A character like this, with a rich history in the Wonder Woman line, deserves better.