Top of the World, MaWritten by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini and Taylor Esposito
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: August 10, 2016
The Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth issue was a huge surprise to me, not because it was so good, Lobdell made me love it. He didn't use smoke and mirror, pomp and circumstance or shock and awe. Nope, he just gave fans a greatest hits tour of Red Hood's origin story along with a pretty interesting plot seed to show where the book was going. While I would have loved to see Bizarro and Artemis show up right away, Lobdell did one better by reminding me why I love Jason Todd first and foremost. That's right...I'm a Jason Todd fan and am proud of it! That being said, I'm not going to give a high score because of that. Nope, that shit has to be earned. So, does Lobdell earn it or burn it this issue? Let's find out...
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The issue starts out with another "Years Ago" flashback as we see Ma Gunn attack Batman while Jason Todd looks on from cover. It is a pretty damn cool callback to Jason Todd's past that put a smile on my face. It also, once again, showed anyone who didn't know it already, that Jason leaps before he looks, or at least he did way back when. The scene overlaps into the present as we see Jason once again leaping through the window with Ma Gunn in his arms, but this time she is the victim and Jason is saving her life.
Saving her life from an explosion that rocks the School for Wayward Boys. But who would want to blow up the school? I'm sure the list is a long one, but at this moment it was Black Mask. We then get to see why through the eyes of Ma Gunn and it's the usual tale of a crime boss making someone an offer they can't refuse and what happens when they do just that. The big kicker of the whole thing was that while the school was empty when the bombs went off, Black Mask thought it wouldn't be. Yep, it seems that while Roman looks like a gussied up gimp, underneath it all he's just a scumbag who doesn't mind murdering kids. Actually, I don't know which one of those I'd prefer.
Back in Jason's "cave" we get more Batman and Robin flashbacks that show us the hows and whys of Jason's detective work which leads to him researching Black Mask. It's a nice way to give us some Black Mask background without feeling too forced and I loved seeing the shout out to Genevieve Valentine's Catwoman run.
After pretty much telling Jason that he will become his second in command, Black Mask sends the former Robin off to get something for him and the issue ends showing us just what that "something" is. I won't spoil it, but this outlaw carries a mighty big axe!
This is a good issue that may not have impressed me as much as the Rebirth #1, but was still really good in it's own way. I loved seeing Jason following all the lessons he learned from Batman, but then doing things the Red Hood way in the end. It's a killer combination of careful detective work and over the top action and I hope that Lobdell continues showing us that. It makes sense as Jason is a walking juxtaposition and that's why I love him.
As much as I liked the story here, Dexter Soy's art was the real star. I liked his art in the Rebirth issue, but I am damn close to loving what he gives us here. Everything looked fantastic and while it's tough to pick my favorite panel, it has to be the cliffhanger page that takes the prize. Actually, it's so good that it really wasn't that hard.
Bits and Pieces:
Scott Lobdell keeps giving Red Hood fans a really good book and while I may not have liked this issue as much as the Rebirth one, that's probably because I loved the Rebirth issue so much. Dexter Soy's art is fantastic and I am really enjoying where this book is right now and am excited to see where it will be going. From the cliffhanger, we should be getting there sooner than later.