Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth #1 Second Opinion

Written by: Scott Lobdell

Art by: Dexter Soy

Publisher: DC Comics

If you listen to the Comics Dash Podcast (which you should), you’ll know that I’m the guy who regularly hates on DC. But let’s face it, there’s a lot of bad writing going around right now. It doesn’t help that almost all of the one-shot Rebirth specials have been overwrought with exposition, bad writing, boring characters that shouldn’t be boring, and rushed pacing.

So perhaps it’s that the bar is so low that damn-near anything can soar over it, or perhaps it’s that I don’t know who Red Hood is, but I quite liked the Rebirth issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws.

I suppose our plot is that Red Hood was once a Robin to Batman’s…Batman, but things changed and now he’s doing some crimes. Batman isn’t happy, but maybe there’s more than meets the eye here. Queue the “dun dun DUN!” music.

The first six or seven pages of RHatO are devoted to Jason Todd’s backstory. Normally I’d call foul, because the backstory given is heaped on in typical Rebirth fashion, but here I didn’t mind. Jason Todd has a charismatic voice, and Lobdell packs his exposition panels with tons of it. It turns what would normally be a dry, fact-driven set of pages into something worth reading.

That, and I actually liked how Red Hood came to be. Talk about a better origin than Flash’s stupid lightning strike.

For a comic with lots of facts and lots of setup jammed into 20 pages, there’s also breathing room squeezed in. Jason and Batman’s relationship is only touched on, but what is here is nice, and it serves to act as a great foil to the present where Red Hood and Batman are throwing punches at each other. You get the sweet and the sour in one go.

I also enjoyed some of the world building. Red Hood flashes back to being in a bar for big criminals, and like the hotel in John Wick, I love that idea. (Perhaps I love it more here since the criminals in Gotham are superpowered. It’s lovely.) I’d read a set of comics that take place in that bar and in that bar only. I hope we go back.

My only real complaint is, sadly, a big one. The majority of RHatO builds up towards a kind of Punisher-style character where Red Hood is off killing people that deserved to be killed, and then does not deliver. At all.

That problem is compounded when you realize that this is the introduction to the big story going forward, and I guess I don’t know how interesting that story will be.

Still, as far as Rebirth issues go, this is actually a good one. It’s not quite Constantine or Wonder Woman levels, but it does what it needs to do competently enough. I had fun with it, at any rate.