Red Hood #51 – Shawn Martinbrough, Writer; Tony Akins, Penciller; Stefano Gaudiano, Inker; Paul Mounts, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Sometimes the most pleasant surprises in comics are the ones you never see coming. Coming on the heels of a nearly ten-year run by Scott Lobdell on Jason Todd’s solo title, this short run by Shawn Martinbrough is coming only two months before another creative change for Future State. But quietly, it’s one of the best-executed Red Hood stories in a long time. After a long journey, Jason Todd is finally ready to take a break from Bat-family drama. So he returns home to his old stomping grounds—The Hill, an area of Gotham where he grew up before he was taken in by Bruce Wayne twelve years ago. There, he gets a crappy apartment and meets up with his old friend Dana, the one person who remembers him from before the neighborhood changed a lot. But this isn’t a relaxing vacation—The Hill, which survived the Joker War mostly intact, is dealing with its own major crime problems.
The villains get as much page time as Jason this issue, with the main focus falling on a pair of small-time crooks—a legacy criminal who shakes down businesses and trafficks in weapons, and his partner—an ambitious white rapper wannabe who is a little too eager to get into deals with known supervillains. Add in an armored vigilante named Strike who’s messing up their operations, and it’s a tinderbox waiting to happen—especially when Killer Croc gets involved. Croc has had some nicer moments in recent years, but here he’s back to his roots as a slick crime-lord ready to leverage his monstrous appearance for financial gain. This is the grittiest, most down-to-earth Red Hood run we’ve seen in a long time, and that’s a big compliment. For the first time, Jason seems to have his own world to operate in, with Batman only at the fringes. Martinbrough came out of nowhere, but this is hopefully the start of something big for him.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.