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Written By: Scott Lobdell Art By: Javier Fernandez, Blonde, Dave Sharpe Cover Price: $2.99 Release Date: December 9, 2015
*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
Now before anyone goes and does something crazy, like buy this book because they think they need it to complete their Robin War collection, just let me tell you that isn't the case. Yeah, while Red Hood may be in Gotham and the Robin War #1 is actually going on around this issue, it doesn't really play into the events of this book. In the previous issue we saw our pair of heroes take on the Hero Manifesto and ultimately take on a new hire for their Rent-A-Bat business in the form of Joker's Daughter......... Yeah, calm down, I haven't been a fan of that character either, but out of nowhere it seems that Scott Lobdell wants to make her interesting by giving her some sort of redemption, since the anger that's within her is very similar to what Jason felt when he was her age. Yeah, it's a stretch, but I'd rather have Joker's Daughter be a character that I like instead of something that I loath every time she's mentioned and if that means a complete overhaul of what we've seen of her so far...... Well, I'm all for it. So yeah, Joker's Daughter is a part of the team as a long as she sticks to Jason's newly initiated "No Killing" rule and the Robin War is going down in Gotham tonight. Let's jump into this issue........... that's not a tie-in at all really and see what's going down.
Our issue begins with Jason running off to go meet Tim so the two of them can get in front of this whole Robins Laws thing before the street Robins get hurt worse than they already have....... Pretty much everything that we saw them do in Robin War #1. What we see here is them first getting together and discussing things that we've heard a million times, like Jason's backstory in being a Robin, dying and coming back to see that he was replaced by Tim and Tim's backstory about how he felt he needed to be a Robin and how he became Red Robin because he knew he'd never live up to the name Robin when the one before him died in the line of duty. Even though all of this seems old hat, I have to tell you that the way it's presented here is probably my favorite from anything that we've seen in the New 52 and the DCYou. There's just something about the comradery and understanding that these two characters show for one another, not to mention some really great dialog that makes the opening to this issue stand above and beyond anything we've seen of these two character's origin stories, especially since we see them from both perspectives. It's a really minor part of the book and the only thing that really ties into the Robin War, but I could have read a book with these two written like this all night.
Once Jason and Tim head off to do their Robin thing, we're left with Roy and Joker's Daughter and while that's not a bad thing, it certainly isn't anywhere near as interesting as what we dealt with previously. Jason wants Roy and J.D......... Roy calls Joker's Daughter J.D. in this and I actually really like it so I'm going to adopt it myself. Anyway, Jason wants Roy and J.D. to stay away from what's going on with the Robins, but he never said that they couldn't go on a job together and since they got a call needing some heroes at a circus, Arsenal and Joker's Daughter run off to go get paid. It seems that while everyone is dealing with the Robin situation, a couple of members from the Circus of Strange use this opportunity to steal some orphan kids that are working at a.......... circus. We've got Phosphorus Rex, Big Top and Siam apparently doing some freelance work for someone other than Professor Pyg and even though Roy takes out Phosphorous Rex and Siam pretty easy, Big Top gets on top of him........ Literally on top of him and if you don't know, Big Top is a big ass bearded fat lady and getting on top of him might be the worst thing she could do. Knowing that his spine is now in jeopardy, Roy calls J.D in and she goes balls to the wall crazy on these villains and takes them out. After the fight is over though I get a little confused because later after J.D. comes to, Roy says that he had to taze her to make sure she didn't kill anyone, but in the previous scene we saw that she was lowering her gun and Roy's hand never let go of the arrow........ so yeah, confused.
In the end, Roy's about to drop J.D. off at Arkham because with that "I had to taze you to make sure you didn't kill anyone" thing, he thinks that the best thing for her, no matter what Jason thinks is to admit her to Arkham and hope that she gets the help that she needs.
Too bad that they're attacked by lava zombies that come out of nowhere and suck them into the ground......... Maybe I missed something in a past foray into the Gotham Underground, but I don't know what's up with these lava zombies or why they would come out of nowhere and kidnap Roy or J.D..
That's it for this issue of Red Hood/Arsenal and even though I loved the first act of this story with Jason and Tim, the rest was just sorta so-so for me. I don't know if it's because it was just a random fight with the Circus of Strange, showing us how Roy and J.D. work together...... and don't really trust one another, but there wasn't any sort of information about Joker's Daughter wanting to change her evil ways besides her simply saying....... I want to change. Yeah, admitting you have a problem is the first step, but since this new development is so out of character from what we've seen of her, I just kind of wanted something a little deeper I guess. Maybe we'll get it in the future and I'll be happy, but another problem that I foresee coming down the road is Joker's Daughter just becoming a Harley clone and as much as I hated J.D. in previous stories since her introduction to the New 52, I think I might hate that scenario even more. Now, I'm not going to tell you that this was a bad issue or anything like that because it still had the charm and appeal that this title has maintained since it started, it was just weird because it called itself a Robin War tie-in without really being one and the story that we got instead was a little flat.......... and ended with lava zombies. As for the art, I found myself really digging Denis Medri's style as this series progressed issue to issue and even though we have Javier Fernandez on art duties this issue....... and I thought I was really going to be thrown by a new style, it turned out to be really wonderful and I look forward to see what he brings to this series in the future...... Hell, even though I can't rightfully say that I know anything about art, this entire team did a hell of a job and the entire book looks fantastic.
Bits and Pieces:
While readers might not get the Robin War tie-in that they were hoping for, what they will get is for my money the best depiction of both Jason Todd's and Tim Drake's origin story that I've ever seen since the beginning of the New 52. It doesn't last very long, but it delivers an emotional impact and really solidifies why Jason and Tim are so close. We've also got a Roy and Joker's Daughter story...... that while most of this book consists of, it never lands the punch that we got from the beginning of this book, but still ends up feeling like a half decent story for this series. Put all of that together with excellent art all the way through and you get yourself a fine installment to the Red Hood/Arsenal series, just not the Robin War event that was advertised.