Thursday, March 10, 2016

Red Hood/Arsenal #10 Review and *SPOILERS*

Duel Identity

Written By: Scott Lobdell
Art By: Dexter Soy, Jose Villarrubia, Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: March 9, 2016

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

We're finally out of the Underground and hopefully that means that we can get back on track with having fun while reading this title.  Yeah, I guess if we're going to do this whole "Reform Joker's Daughter" bit we needed to go back down to where most of her story lies, but that doesn't mean I had to like it........... because I really, really didn't.  When we left our last story we saw J.D. leaving the Joker's face behind in the Underground so that the dwellers would know that someone was watching out for them, but really it came off that the character was finally moving on and hopefully becoming something worth reading and we had some weird shit where Arsenal apparently worked with that undead Iron Rule......... but don't expect any continuation of that here.  Let's jump into this issue and see how Jason and Roy's Rent-A-Bat business is doing and how well Joker's Daughter is adjusting to legit life.  Let's check it out.

Explain It!:

Our issue begins with a little flash forward of our heroes dealing with some psi-operatives from HIVE aboard a battleship and if that wasn't enough to satiate your Red Hood/Arsenal thirst, well before we go back to the beginning of the story we see that our pair are face to face with a big ass bomb, that Roy refers to as the god of doomsday bombs.  So yeah, some pretty serious shit right there.  Let's take a break from all that intense action and excitement and go back to where it all started with the government fixer "Ms. Battleworth", who we previously saw showing our heroes the door and remarking that she never wanted to hear from them again.......... Yeah, that didn't last too long.  The thing is, we don't really get a explanation about why Tara Battleworth is willing to help our heroes when they called her out of the blue and asked her to get a therapist for Duela.  Is it just curiosity?  The enjoyment she'd get out of all this when Jason and Roy fail to reform their new employee?  It's all kind of up for interpretation, but we spend half this issue jumping back and forth between our heroes' battle with HIVE and Duela's time with the head shrinker.  

I think I'll start with Red Hood and Arsenal, who take a case from a woman who was offered a position in HIVE for her knowledge of the battleship the organization plans on attacking, but after she turned them down, they threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone in the military because apparently they have operatives throughout the Navy's ranks and if she said anything they'd know........ which led her to call Rent-A-Bat to get some fast justice at a reasonable rate.  This pretty much leads us right back to where we began in this issue with Roy and Jason going up against the HIVE Regal, who apparently invented this doomsday device and he tells us that the bomb isn't the exploding kind, but the kind that imprints HIVE minds into the people around it when it goes off........... Now that's some Weird Science right there........ Mind fuck bombs!  So we've got this big bad monologuing his evil plans at our heroes and us and then everything is resolved in an instant, when Roy simply disarms the bomb by sticking an arrow into the control panel and Jason shoots the HIVE Regal to death even though bullets didn't seem to work against him a minute ago.  It's a very lackluster conclusion to this dilemma and normally I would probably be all about it because of how aggressively simple it is and how that plays with this title's attitude, but because of the art I'm not completely certain that Jason's bullets are the thing that took the HIVE Regal down or if it was something to do with the bomb being deactivated........ plus, I found myself pissed that Jason was killing fools throughout this issue because we just seemed to have a bunch of growth with him and his new stance on no murder......... and then BLAM, BLAM, BLAM......... fools be dead.  

In the end we head over to Duela's therapy session and as for much as I really don't like the character of Joker's Daughter, I found this section of the story to be the best.......... except for the inclusion of Lilith Clay as her therapist out of nowhere because even she says at the end that she's an addiction counselor and it doesn't make any sense for her to be seeing how sane Duela is.  Besides that though we get this great back and forth between Duela and Lilith that lays out her story and her path to destruction and how with some work she can eventually become a real girl.  Out of everything that we've seen of Joker's Daughter since her debut in the New 52, this feels like the most character development that we've ever gotten and the greatest part is, it all turns out to be bullshit because we see her go back down into the Underground at the conclusion of this issue to reclaim her face.  Now this could just be me reading too much into things and maybe a little bit of my own craziness seeping through, but another reason that I loved this section of the story is that it also played on the whole duel aspect of Duela.  Now Duela probably won't ever be the daughter of Two-Face in this continuity even with her name, but it kind of leans that way in my mind for the way that her mind is split from the stories that she believes to be true, to the facts that actually happened.  The thing that really got this going in my mind is one of the last lines of the book where J.D. goes to collect her face and she's talking about how she doesn't need it, but she does.  I don't know, I might be completely off base here, but the sheer idea of Joker's Daughter getting me all worked up about her character and her psychology just makes me think that this section of the book was written with great care.

That's it for this issue of Red Hood/Arsenal and while some of the fun that made this book one of my favorite guilty pleasures is back in form with this issue, the overall Red Hood/Arsenal story wasn't great and even contradicted previous issues, where Jason was going on about a no killing policy...... and hell, even having Tara Battleworth and Lilith Clay in this issue didn't seem to make much sense to the characters themselves.  One of the main problems with the story, besides for being incredibly simple, without any real payoff is the art and it pains me to say that because I'm a big fan of Dexter Soy and for some reason whenever our title characters were involved the art seemed to suffer, but for whatever reason straightened itself out when Joker's Daughter's parts came about.  Besides for the excellent aspects to the writing when it came to J.D. it's the fact that the art became excellent as well in these parts that really put this segment to the story on a goddamn pedestal because say what you will about the Joker's Daughter character, this issue really made her interesting in my mind and I can't wait to see more of her because of it.  

Bits and Pieces:

While you're paying for the Red Hood/Arsenal name, it's Joker's Daughter that really made this issue worth the price tag.  I know that's a crazy thing to say because of how disappointing that character has been, but it's the truth and by the time you're done reading this you might have a new found interest in Duela Dent........ man, I hope I'm not just talking out of my ass, but I really enjoyed it and I think others will too.  Only problem is, our main characters don't really shine here because of a lackluster, simple story, but at least the humor of these two are back and that's something after we've been trudging through the Underground the last couple of issues.

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  1. As much as I am critical of Scott Lobdell's work, I have to give him credit in that he seems to be trying to develop the J.D. character. I personally didn't mind the art at all. I thought the issue was better than the last two.

    1. I did enjoy this issue more than the last two, which I gave a 4.5/10 and a 3/10.

  2. Well, this was a train wreck. Is there any writer who can make this book work after Rebirth. Red Hood and the Outlaws was a cold dead flop from the start of the New 52. I doubt any of the current Batfamily writers (King, Orlando, Seeley, Fawkes, Valentine, Bermejo, Tomasi, Glrason, etc) will write it, they've already earned shots at better titles. Has to be someone completely new.

  3. This was great setup issue. And the art was a much needed welcome. It's cool to think that they'll get some noterioty for once. Jason wasn't really killing anyone. All the people were drones besides the Leader. I'm still a fan of Duela in this series. I was actually hoping it wouldn't be that easy to fix her. Or at least get her somewhere close to Jason & Roys level of fucked up. I hope that this series crossover with the new Titans Book after Rebirth.

    Also did anyone laugh when they saw that the weapon was a mind control bomb. I bet Mother really wished she thought of this bomb first.


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