Monday, September 14, 2015

Red Hood/Arsenal #4 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: Scott Lobdell
Art By: Denis Medri, Blond, Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: September 9, 2015

Home Is Where The Evil Is

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

While I loved Red Hood and The Outlaws while it was going on, I have to say that this series has been a joy to read right from the get go....... yeah, I had some trouble with the art initially, I have since gotten over that because it seems that with each issue it keeps getting better...... and who doesn't love that?   The only complaint that I can make is all very personal because I loved the way our title characters looked before this title and I don't think that I'll ever get behind their new looks.  In the previous issue we saw our heroes for hire go to Detroit to meet their new employer, but it turned out that the business wasn't on the up and up when they found out their employer was the physical embodiment of evil itself, named Underbelly.  After giving this disgusting monster a old fashioned Red Hood and Arsenal workout, our two heroes decided to go to Gotham because if this thing can arise wherever evil is present, well there's no better place to go looking for him........ It's just too bad that Gotham has a new Batman in town who doesn't take kindly to vigilantes and outlaws.  Let's check out this issue to see how our heroes make out.  Let's check it out.

Explain It!:

Our story begins with one of those classic tropes where we find ourselves towards the end of the issue, only to jump back to where it all started.  I could take or leave this, but I have to say that beginning the issue with Jim Gordon's Batman scanning and trying to apprehend Red Hood and Arsenal certainly got my attention.  As any of us saw who read the previous issue, our two heroes have made their way to Gotham to try and track down the evil incarnate monster Underbelly and while we have no proof that fatty boombalatty is actually there, it's a good bet.  Once we get to when Jason and Roy first get to Gotham, we see the fun of this book immediately when we're presented with them in a diner that reflects the classic painting Nighthawks...... It isn't much and probably won't "wow" any one, but it's simple touches like this that make this series excellent.  Anyway, our boys are back in Gotham to search for Underbelly, but while they're there, they'll also have to confront their pasts.  Roy makes an excuse to leave Jason and we see him go find Killer Croc, who you might remember helped Roy through his worst when he was dealing with his addition issues, while Jason is confronted with a face from his past in the form of a woman who once gave him hope when the two were in a group home together as children.  Roy's bit in this is excellent because while he's been building things like he always does, lately it's come off a little excessive and we find out from his talk with Croc........ that takes place in a sewer underneath of an A.A. meeting because I guess Croc is still dealing with his own addiction issues, that Roy has been feeling an emptiness inside of him and he's scared that he's going to slip up one day soon.  Croc tells him not to worry and that he already has someone to talk to and he will when the time is right.  Jason's bit during this memory lane is kind of nice as we see that Jason knew that he wanted to be a good guy way back when because even though he would resent Gabby for her optimism to her face, it really struck a cord with him and he ended up spending his days defending her from bullies.  The scene ends with Jason telling her that he's only in town for the night and that he's thankful that she was who she was........ and ends up leaving his entire money clip as a tip.  It's just too bad that memory lane doesn't end for Jason on this high note.

Once Jason and Roy meet back up in costume, it's time to get down to business and Jason has scoped out an abandoned high end club and he explains to Roy that he believes that if Underbelly is anywhere in the city, it's most likely that he's there.  The reason behind this shows us another flashback to Jason's days as Robin, where one night after a big Arkham breakout, Joker assembled Penguin, Catwoman, Clayface, Mr. Freeze and Two-Face to unveil a device that he's acquired...... It's just too bad that the night custodian wasn't told about this meeting and that he should have probably taken the night off because when he interrupts the villains, he ends up like Peter Weller in Robocop when the gang kills Alex Murphy........ It's a fucked up scene.  Well, better late than never, Batman and Robin show up and take down the villains, but it's at this point where Jason sees the body of the man and realizes that the life he lives with Batman isn't all fun and games and that it's deadly serious.  This riddled body before him in my mind is the point when Jason started becoming more brutal in his tactics to take monsters off the streets because this was a man who will never return to his wife or children and as we see from this, this scene haunts Jason's mind.  It's an awesome scene and I love the fact that it's in this book.  I love seeing Jason Todd's time as Robin and I'll take it anywhere I can get it........especially, when it's a future shaping moment like this.

In the end, the flashback ends, but before Jason and Roy can enter the old club, they're confronted by Jim Gordon's Batman.  Even though Jim (the other reviewer on this site, not Batman) didn't like this scene because of Jason and Roy taking on the metal Bat without them knowing who's inside of it....... it comes off as straight "Outlaws" to me and I love it.  Before any damage can really be dealt on either side, the fight is interrupted as Underbelly makes his appearance and it looks like our duo will make it a trio in the following issue to take on the embodiment of evil........... and I can't wait.

That's it for this issue of Red Hood/Arsenal and I love this freaking series.  Each issue keeps getting better and better and the biggest problem that I had with this series was the art and I don't know if Denis Medri was holding back or just trying to get his footing with the style he wanted, but he gave us a really great looking issue here and I only wish that our characters looked like they did in Outlaws because if that were the case this would be almost perfect in my mind.  Let's hop off that dick and get on Lobdell's because up until now this series has been fun....... and really that was it, but here we keep the same good time that we've become used to while Scotty added an emotional element really diving into the character's pasts and what they fear from their future.  For the most part I'm really in this book for Red Hood, but Roy's addiction problem and the use of Killer Croc's callback in helping Roy overcome it worked so well in this story and just adds a whole other element to this series....... with that and Jason still dealing with his past just makes this series more solid.  A great issue overall that everyone should get.

Bits and Pieces:

Red Hood/Arsenal kicks it up a notch with this installment, while continuing to be the fun book we all know and love, it adds an element of heart as well that really rounds out this whole series and makes it feel bigger than I've ever thought of it before.  Combine all that awesomeness with the best art that this series has seen so far and you've got yourself one hell of a book that you won't want to miss.

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