DC’s Rebirth has taken the comic world by storm since it’s launch in 2016. Since then, we’ve seen a wide array of comebacks, revivals, and new characters. Red Hood — or Jason Todd to his die-hard fans — is a character that seems to have reached his prime. But with Artemis and Bizarro by his side, a new and interesting team has been born within the DC Universe.
What Is The Story?
The story begins with a young Jason Todd attempting to remove the wheels from the Batmobile. This familiar first meeting with the Dark Knight is what captured the imaginations of so many back in 1983. As Jason guides us through his time with Batman, we can see that the childhood wonder of being Robin soon gave way to rage and animosity. And so begins the adventure.
It’s Red Hood vs. Black Mask and Gotham City should duck and cover. Despite Batman’s lack of trust, he allows Jason to go undercover in Black Mask’s gang with one simple rule: no killing. Earning the trust of the crime boss, Jason is asked to steal a highly valued item on the black market — a clone of Superman.
Enter Artemis: a fierce Amazonian looking for an ancient weapon of untold power. Unlike her wondrous counterpart, she has no bulletproof bracelets or loving morals. But, she knows how to sass Mr. Todd and bring him down a peg or two.
She is an anti-hero just like Jason, willing to do anything to achieve her goal. As you can imagine, their mutually strong personalities clash hard at first, until they realize they are pursuing a common goal. But once Bizarro is captured, Jason and Artemis really step into their own, working together to take down Black Mask.
“The world’s got enough heroes. Maybe it could do with a few outlaws.”
Who Says Comics Can’t Be Deep?
First and foremost, this comic reads like a heist movie. Three loners who through sheer circumstance end up together; pursuing a similar goal and learning to get along in the process.
Under The Red Hood
One of the most interesting things about this story is seeing Jason constantly battling his killer instincts. The comic constantly flashes back to Jason’s time as Robin. His brutal demise and his monstrous resurrection.
This serves as a constant reminder of Jason’s dark past. One that older readers should feel responsible for since DC asked its readers to vote for Jason to live or die. They chose the latter.
Death in the Family, Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo, 1988.
His years as Batman’s sidekick are still visible in the way he moves, fights and schemes. Yet, he is itching to shoot Black Mask in the head. Enter the rest of the team, which has a real heart that lends itself to the name Outlaws. Loveable, yet on the fringes of heroism.
Artemis is young, brash and headstrong, but unlike Jason, she’s never let that distract her from her goals. Her strength and ego make her formidable, but melt away at certain points to reveal a capable warrior and compassionate friend.
Which is where Bizarro enters the fray. A fan favourite (and definitely one of mine), this Superman doppelganger will capture your heart with his strange language and cursed existence. If you liked Bizarro in the New 52 story-line Forever Evil, then you’ll love this iteration.
Despite being created to be a perfect clone, his exposure to Earth’s atmosphere causes his skin to turn white and his mind to become child-like. But when it comes to defending his friends, he’s just as formidable as his Kryptonian counterpart.
Every Frame A Painting
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Dexter Soy’s fantastic artwork. It blends the dark tone of Red Hood’s inner psyche with the bright colours and speed that comic book fans have come to love.
Soy — of Captain Marvel fame — provides a gritty filter to the hyper-acrobatic action that this story brings. The character designs for each of the three main characters are flawless, with Bizarro’s innocence, Red Hood’s rage and Artemis’ pride all filling the page.
Plus, Black Mask looks terrifying.
To Sum It Up
Humour, action, and depth are the three words I’d use to describe this story. As a long time fan of both Bizarro and Red Hood, I was excited to see how this team’s dynamics would work, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Batman’s guiding hand in the story in the team’s creation felt right, without stealing the limelight from the three worthy main characters. Overall, I would give this graphic novel an 8 out of 10, because I couldn’t put it down and I want to read the next installment immediately.