Controversy Week continues with another creator who did some stuff that really bothered people.
But for this review, I’m looking at the DC Rebirth version of Red Hood and the Outlaws.
The controversy: Writer Scott Lobdell is, more often than not, probably harmless. He’s not exactly the kind of guy who seems to excite people one way or the other, doing a lot of journeyman work for various books and titles over the years. A friend of mine famously said Lobdell could write a great downtime issue where the characters relax and try to catch their collective breaths after a big storyarc. I’d argue my friend wasn’t wrong. But Lobdell worked for a good long time on various X-Men titles, and he was responsible for this issue:
Yes, Lobdell wrote the issue of X-Men that led to the temporary death of popular X-Man Colossus, and he wasn’t killed in action or anything but due to a rather ridiculous plot element to cure the Legacy Virus. It was self-sacrificing, which did fit the character, but it still felt like a cheap gimmick to end a longstanding X-Men plotline as quickly as possible.
Now, one of the accusations made about the New 52 is that many of the writers DC brought in were all working for Marvel in the 90s, and they were writing the books exactly like 90s era Marvel books. Lobdell was one of those writers brought in, and one of the books he was working on was Red Hood and the Outlaws, a series heavily criticized, and rightfully so, for treating longtime Teen Titan Starfire as a sex object, one who seemed to exist solely for the pleasure of her two male companions. This Starfire has no recollection of any of her old teammates but was more than willing to sleep with either Jason Todd or Roy Harper, and neither of them seemed too concerned about that. Or so the criticism goes. I haven’t actually read the book.
The work: But then, for some reason, Lobdell is still writing DC books, and one such book in question is the Rebirth version of Red Hood and the Outlaws.
And, oddly enough…I actually liked this one. It’s still Jason Todd and two teammates, but the teammates are different this time, and neither of them are here strictly as eye candy or a sex object for Jason.
This time around, the Red Hood is operating out of Gotham City, fighting the good fight in a more excessively violent way to mask that he actually is fighting the good fight. He goes on an infiltration mission with Batman’s blessing on one condition: no killing. After infiltrating Black Mask’s gang and indeed becoming the crime lord’s next-in-line, Jason soon meets up with renegade Amazon Artemis and a newly cloned Bizarro, forging the subtitle of the trade, a Dark Trinity. And I gotta say, that’s actually pretty clever. Whatever Black Mask is up to won’t be good for Gotham, and while Jason flashes back to his days as Robin, he has to contend with a simple-minded Bizarro as well as deal with Artemis’s being essentially on her own mission that just happened to bring her to Gotham. Lobdell uses all three well, and I liked the book way more than I thought I would have. Not necessarily enough to keep with it, but it wasn’t a bad trade at all. My biggest issue is that Lobdell’s characters tend to talk quite a bit, and these characters were no exception. And maybe I could point out Artemis is drawn with such an excessive amount of hair in her ponytail it is literally lying on the ground in some panels. Otherwise, let’s say 8 out of 10 not-so-harmless little old ladies.