Sunday, June 23, 2024

Jason Todd Faces His Demons in Red Hood and the Outlaws

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When we last left Jason Todd, Artemis, and Bizarro they’d been shot out of the sky by the military dictator of Qurac, General Heinle, via the legendary Bow of Ra, a weapon of mass destruction. Bizarro found himself with a band of refugees, Artemis woke up in chains to find Akila still alive, and Jason is in custody and having some serious PTSD flashbacks.

Artemis, like the rest of us, is utterly gobsmacked that Akila isn’t dead. Especially since she had to, you know, kill her. To brush up on the Bow of Ra, it’s an insanely powerful weapon that can only be wielded by a shim’tar of Artemis’ Amazonian tribe. Who was Akila? The problem with the bow is that it completely corrupts the user, and to save Qurac, the rest of her Amazonian sisters, and the word, Artemis had to put the dearest person to her down.

So yeah, she has some emotional whiplash. Especially when Akila leads her to join the rest of their sisters in feasting and shows her a restored Qurac for their tribe. Akila doesn’t blame Artemis for killing her, in fact, she’s happy Artemis and Diana were able to stop her before she hurt anyone else.

It’s so moving and touching! … I don’t trust it.

Now, wait a minute. How is Akila alive? Well, you can thank General Heinle for that. He took some of her genetic material to clone so he could wield the bow and inadvertently brought her back when he used it.

Akila pledges their sisters to the cause of overthrowing Heinle and restoring peace to Qurac.

Meanwhile, Bizarro is still leading that camp of refugees to go find “the reds” (Artemis and Jason) as he thinks they’ll know what to do. The only problem is that he runs right into a mountain. The refugees begin to wonder just who it is they’re following because there’s no way they can traverse a mountain.

Before they can figure out a Plan B, the General’s aerial forces descend on them. It turns out, Bizarro wasn’t far off, Heinle’s forces are on the other side of the mountain, and they want the refugees to turn back. Said refugees angrily point out that thanks to the General, they have no homes to go back too. Bizarro engages them in combat and then has another lovely hero moment where he determines that if a mountain stands in the way of help, he’ll just have to move the damned mountain.

Now for Jason. This issue has probably one of the more major breakthroughs for Jason in recent memory. Faced with his traumatic flashbacks, he first echoes Superman in Injustice and drives a blade through the Joker’s heart. Granted, he can kill the Joker as much as he wants in his disassociated state, but he can’t save himself as Robin. So he’s stuck, reliving the night he died over and over again as young Jason Todd begs for help. And it’s here that Jason realizes that the Joker is never going to die. Not in Jason’s mind. Not unless he can finally move on from that night, and everything that led up to it.

That means telling his younger self that he has to walk away from him as well. And own up to the fact that he had some blame to shoulder as well. See, he’s been with his group long enough to realize he doesn’t have to be alone now. He has Kori, Artemis, Roy, and Bizarro he can turn to. He doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t be the lone wolf. And yet that’s what he did as Robin. He never let anyone in, charged into Qurac alone, and in his words, died as he lived. Alone.

No literally. Those are his words.

He’s suddenly jolted back to reality and realizes he’s been so far into his own head he completely missed the fact that he’s been tied to a chair and literally beaten for information. Shame for his captors, including General Heinle, a lucid Jason Todd isn’t going to be tied down by such shoddy bonds for long.

Jason is out lickety-split and turns the tables on Heinle, holding him at gunpoint and demanding to know why he shot them out of the sky.

And here’s the twist. It turns out that yeah, Heinle totally had the bow. But only a shim’tar could wield it. He tried, and we know he messed around with Akila’s remains. But if only a shim’tar could truly use it and Heinle looks terrified as he says he let the genie out of the bottle then that means…


This issue moves quickly, but it’s packed with a ton of emotional punch. I am loving Bizarro’s progression as a hero, and honestly had a few goosebumps when he decided to move the mountain. Scott Lobdell is cementing his take on Bizarro as my absolute favorite.

As I mentioned above, this is quite an issue for Jason. Perhaps the closest we’ve seen him finally accept what happened that night, and that he’s a different person now. It’s incredibly gratifying to see him realize he doesn’t have to fight alone anymore, and that he trusts his team to have his back.

And Artemis. Oh, Artemis. This is going to hurt. A lot. But we’re gluttons for pain because we can’t wait for issue #11.

The art is on point as usual. The page layouts themselves are brilliant, especially with how they framed the cells for Akila’s recounting of how she’s alive. Dexter Soy’s line work is crisp, and his facial expressions work beautifully to convey the gamut of emotions the characters are dragged through. Combined with Veronica Gandini’s color work, Red Hood and the Outlaws comes to life in visceral, hyper-realistic explosions.

Also, as a completely irrelevant aside: I cannot see the General’s name and not automatically read it as General Heiny. Not sure if that was intentional, but I’m having fun with it anyway.

Stay tuned next month when our poor baby Artemis is going to have her heart broken again when Red Hood and the Outlaws go to war!

Fanfinite Rating: 9/10

Red Hood and the Outlaws #10

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Pencils: Dexter Soy

Colors: Veronica Gandini

Letters: Taylor Esposito

Images Courtesy of DC Comics

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