Red Hood and the Outlaws #5
Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Dexter Soy and Veronica Giandi
Lettering by Taylor Esposito
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
There’s something to be said sometimes about simple things done well, and Red Hood and the Outlaws #5 feels like a fitting example. Out of all of the titles out of DC’s "Rebirth," it’s not the flashiest in high concept or the most ambitious in stakes or execution, but thanks to Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, and Veronica Giandi simply committing to producing some fun superheroic action, Red Hood is beautifully rendered book is you really shouldn’t sleep on.
It doesn’t hurt, by the way, that this book is extremely accessible. Even if you don’t know anything about Jason Todd trying to infiltrate Black Mask and his gang, you can pretty much dive into this book cold, just knowing it’s a team book featuring Red Hood, the axe-wielding Artemis, and the blockheaded bruiser Bizarro. The plot is simple - time-honored, even - but Lobdell knows that these characters work just as well fighting one another as they do playing nice as a team, so he just shakes them up like a bottle of Coke and waits for the whole thing to explode.
And it works nicely - having Jason and Artemis both get their hits in as the possessed Bizarro goes amok serves as a nice bit of tension, utilizing Superman’s nigh-omnipotent power set as a challenging obstacle to overcome. While one can critique some of Lobdell’s individual lines of dialogue (or the use of a “techno-organic virus” as kind of a nebulous device to make the plot move the way he wants it to), when you get down to the brass tacks of pacing a fight comic book, Lobdell certainly is more nimble and quick-footed than some of his more ponderous, exposition-heavy peers. Rather than dwell too deeply into backstories or how the Outlaws got here, Lobdell would rather have Jason leap and dive around the room, or have Artemis hit someone so hard that shockwaves appear.
And you know what? For a book like Red Hood and the Outlaws, that’s exactly the right instinct to have - especially when you have artists like Dexter Soy and Veronica Giandi on board. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again - if you need just one reason to justify Red Hood and the Outlaws’s existence, it’s to have seen Soy’s tremendous evolution as an artist. Pairing him up with Giandi’s colors, Soy’s artwork no longer seems garish and overrendered, but instead fluid and bouncy, with some fun beats swiped straight from first-person shooters, letting readers get inside the Red Hood’s head as he fires away with his twin .45s. There are shades of ‘90s-era Joe Madureira artwork to Soy’s style, but for a book like Red Hood, that style works well to play up the grittiness and attitude of these characters.
And “attitude” is exactly the word one might use when summing up Red Hood and the Outlaws. It’s not about creating heady premises or redefining the comics sphere, but instead just delivering some good, old-fashioned fisticuffs, about having men and women with superpowers beat the tar out of each other, and look fantastic while doing it. While Red Hood might be thought of as too “low brow” for some superhero snobs, the artwork alone makes this a fun diversion for action fans.