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Art By: Denis Medri, Blond, Dave Sharpe Cover Price: $2.99 Release Date: October 14, 2015
*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
Red Hood and Arsenal might just be the funnest book that DC Comics is putting out right now and that's do to Scotty Lobdell just killing this book every month and putting our duo back in Gotham......even if it's just a short time, was just brilliant. Yeah, we're used to Red Hood and Arsenal galavanting across the world in their fight against evil, but there's just no place like Gotham and as we saw from our previous issue, it looks like they'll have their hands full not only taking on Underbelly, but also Jim Gordon's Batman. Let's jump into this issue and find out the secret origin of Underbelly and how Jason will react when he comes face to face with a father figure he thought was dead. Let's check it out.
We pick up here, right where we left off, Batman vs. Underbelly...... and I guess, our two title characters are there to help too. Batman uses his sonic blasters, which he believes destroys Underbelly, but as we all know, some silly sonic device can't kill a thought........ we all know that right? After a bit of banter between Batman and our Outlaws, Underbelly reemerges and Roy heads for the hills. No seriously, Roy high tails it and while we know that he's just going to do something ultra smart, it's still funny to see........ but it's also at this point where the book decides to become strange.
Underbelly tells his origins, which if you caught the last issue you'll know about the story that Jason told us about when Joker and a bunch of Gotham's worst escaped Arkham and Jason realized how serious the job that Batman and him do really is. Jason witnessed the death of a security guard and the Joker had himself a supposedly super device....... apparently, this device was a psychic siphon, that Arkham created to lobotomize patients and when this device was broken during Batman and Robin's fight with the villains, Underbelly was born. Underbelly went on to create other forms of himself all over the world and thanks to how awful all of us are, it became very powerful......... For the most part, all of this is fine, but I don't know about the idea of Arkham developing something that is capable of creating evil incarnate and I also don't know how the hell Batman didn't know about it....... Hell, even Jim Gordon seemed to be on Underbelly's trail, but this being the first time that we heard of him doesn't really work for me....... Also, Underbelly is under the impression that all of us thought that he was that poor security guard that Jason saw gunned down years ago and until the monster got all presumptuous on our asses, that idea never crossed my mind.
After the back story, we see Jason Todd's eyes start glowing and him apparently turning on Jim Gordon........which immediately turns out to be a ruse and I don't understand the point of it because all Jason does is shoot his bullets into Underbelly's goo, which does nothing. I guess you can say that he was simply distracting the monster so Roy could take his shot with his specialty arrow, but it just comes off unneeded.
In the end, we find out that Roy ran away to go retool one of his arrows that he created to disperse a crowd so that it would reverse the effect that created Underbelly in the first place...... something to do with electromagnetically delivering a nerve pulse or some such nonsense. I've read the explanation over and over again and it doesn't really make sense to me, but since Roy's a genius, I'll just go with it because I don't need the details, I just need him to make me believe that it would work. Underbelly is gone for good and for their work in fighting this threat, Jim Gordon offers them the chance to leave, but before they do, Jason wants to go check out the Rec Center that he spent so much of his time at as a youth. Yeah, he gets to see Bruce Wayne and even though he didn't understand why Bruce was acting the way he was, he was just happy as hell to see him alive. Even though I would have liked to see more of Jason and Bruce and Jason showing us some of his sensitive side, I really liked what we got here because while it was underplayed, it worked really well. This might be a good place to end, but it's cliffhanger time and we see Roy keeping tabs on Jason's little trip to the center, but someone is watching Roy too. As our issue closes, we see Joker's Daughter pointing a gun at Roy's head and it looks like she might have splattered those genius brains all over the ground.
That's it for this issue of Red Hood/Arsenal and even though I went on and on about how much I love this book in the beginning of this review, this issue just wasn't up to par with how good this book has become. Underbelly's explanations felt really forced and unneeded and the whole thing with Jason becoming possessed or just acting possessed....... you know, because his eyes were glowing just didn't feel right and didn't make much sense to me. It's really only that part though, but sadly it takes up the middle of this book. While the interaction with Batman was brief, I did dig what we were given here and I was happy as hell to see Jason find out about Bruce being alive, even if he didn't go home to see Alfred about it........ how are you going to end up in that family portrait if you don't put the time in Jason?...... He better end up in that damn painting! The art was great in this book and I'm really happy that Denis Medri and the entire art team have upped their game with what seems like each issue........ now if we could only get Roy and Jason back in their old uniforms, everything would be pinatas and RC Cola.
Bits and Pieces:
It's great seeing our duo in Gotham City, but this finale to the Underbelly story was really underwhelming. The explanations for things just felt off and all the build up for our duo taking on the embodiment of evil was easily dealt with so we could just simply move on. I still love this series and I think that the art is great in this book, but this issue left me wanting a little more.