Red Hood and the Outlaws #23 – Scott Lobdell, Writer; Trevor Hairsine, Penciller; Ryan Winn, Inker; Rain Beredo, Colorist
Rating Ray – 7.5/10
Trevor Hairsine jumps on board Red Hood and the Outlaws to do some rare interior work for him, but he’s not getting to draw all the Outlaws. Artemis and Bizarro take the issue off for a gritty story focusing entirely on Red Hood and taking the story back to his early childhood.
After an opening segment where Jason takes on an army of Penguin’s goons with only a segment, the story flashes back to Ma Gunn’s house. There, Jason finds a series of letters from his father, written from jail and trying to tell Jason the truth about his abandonment of the family – from, Jason thinks, beyond the grave. Willis Todd tells the story of how he was a low-level drug dealer who sold one day to a girl from a good family and became infatuated with her. He won her over, but the possibility of a relationship between them was rejected by her family. They ran off together, lived in a flophouse, and struggled with drug abuse – until Catherine became pregnant, and they decided to try to clean up.
The issue is interesting in just how gritty it gets with the depiction of how they lived at times. I’m not sure if this is all filtered through Willis Todd’s portrayal of himself, but it’s intriguing. After Jason is born, he tries to go straight but eventually winds up falling back into old habits due to mounting debts. However, when he takes a job for Penguin, he’s set up and sent to prison for his crimes. Jason’s mother dies from an overdose while he’s there.
The reveal that he later took an opportunity to get out of prison by undergoing an experimental medical procedure is interesting. So is the fact that, after Jason fights his way through Penguin’s army, he finds Willis’ grave empty. So is Jason getting his own version of Under the Red Hood? Maybe. The whole storyline feels a bit rushed, but Jason remains the one character that Lobdell writes consistently well. I’m intrigued to see how the possible return of his father upends the title. DC’s displayed a surprising amount of faith in this title over the last seven years, and it may finally be paying off.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.