Red Hood and The Outlaws #12
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
Colors: Veronica Gandini
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Clay Mann & Tomeu Morey; Guillem March
Editor: Diego Lopez; Alex Antone; Marie Javins
Publisher: DC Comics
This issue should come with a hanky warning. Seriously. After the gang reclaimed the Bow of Ra and helped to make a tentative peace between the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall and the citizens of Qurac things seemed to be on the mend, with the Outlaws finally reunited after spending several issues apart. However, almost immediately Bizarro collapsed and everything went to hell. We come back to find everyone back in Gotham and the Outlaws, with (surprisingly) Ma Gunn’s help, desperately trying to find a way to save their friend as Bizarro’s cells degenerate more with each passing moment.
I know I’ve said it before but The Outlaws are a family and never has that been more present than in this issue. From Jason, Artemis and Ma Gunn’s vigil at Bizarro’s bedside, to their teamwork when an engineered crisis hits Gotham (more on that in a bit), to their utter devastation when all hope seems lost, these three – now four as Ma Gunn has officially allowed them to make their base at her school and is actively protecting Jason from outsiders – have become more than friends. Scott Lobdell, in only 12 issues, has managed to organically make these people a team who would gladly die for each other but, more importantly, fight for each other to live. This entire issue is one heartbreaking moment after another and the reason for that is the phenomenal writing and thought that has gone into who these people are.
Dexter Soy and Veronica Gandini live up the writing as we get some truly haunting artwork and detail throughout the issue. Little things, like how small Jason’s hand looks as he holds Bizarro’s at his sick bed or Artemis’ anger at the situation coming through in the way she stands, as if her grief would snap out at a moment’s notice, go a long way to make every emotion real. Their work on the guest stars are gorgeously done as well, letting you know that something deeply unsettling is up with subtle shading and wonderful uses of colors.
It all adds up to an issue that will utterly wreck the reader and that’s not even getting into the fact that Jason most definitely has a stalker who’s been getting closer (and more obsessed with him) with each issue.
Five ugly cries out of Five.