Red Hood: Outlaw #48
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Brett Booth
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Arif Prianto Letters: ALW’s Troy Peteri
Covers: Dan Mora & Tamra Bonvillian; Phillip Tan & Jay David Ramos
Editor: Ben Meares & Ben Abernathy
Publisher: DC Comics
Listen. I hate The Joker. I hate crossover events. I hate when characters are Worfed to make other characters look good. So, I was inclined to hate everything about this entire issue pretty much from the jump.
We take a brief break from that bananas af ending of the previous issue to detour into the hot mess that is The Joker War. I’m not going to get into any of that because frankly, unless the changes we saw in that storyline stick, then I can’t bring myself to care. What I will talk about is the interesting dynamics going on in this book. One of the more disturbing aspects of the relationship between Batman and The Joker is Bruce’s refusal to put The Joker down, despite all the horrors he’s inflicted on both Gotham in general and the Bat Family in particular. Yes, he finally does so (sorta) in Batman #100 but it means nothing since, once again, he doesn’t finish the job.
Which brings us to Jason Todd, the ‘son’ of Batman and The Joker. Both claim him, despite him wanting nothing to do with either of them and both want to control him in their own way, one doling out just enough affection and promises of family to keep pulling him in (but always resorting to violence when Jason doesn’t goosestep to his tune) while the other is, frankly, more honest in his need to make sure that Jason lives or dies at his hand and his hand only.
Meanwhile, Jason just wants to be left alone with his Outlaws and his kids, but Gotham is on fire, again, some more, and it’s all hands on deck, especially with The Joker having the brainwashed Ric Grayson (ugh) and the terrifyingly efficient Punchline in play. They lure Jason into a trap using his own tactics and his big heart against him and we get a character we haven’t seen in a long, long time brought back in a way that’s deeply upsetting, right on brand for The Joker, with the potential to be a huge problem for Jason down the line.
Lobdell does his best to keep this issue from derailing all the growth Jason has had in the last few years while still tying him realistically to the The Joker War situation and for that I thank him. There are still some dodgy dialogue in this issue (I’ve yet to see anything in canon for quite some time that shows that Bruce Wayne ‘cares’ or that Jason, of all people, would excuse his appalling behavior these last few years) but I’ll take what I can get if it keeps Jason on track and away from the fallout of this event.
Guest artists Brett Booth and Danny Miki give us some truly dynamic and amazing artwork. Every panel is full of detail and action with special attention paid to the moment Jason realizes that something is even more wrong than he thought at Ma Gunn’s former home.
Overall this issue is surprisingly good, building on Jason’s mythology, moving the story forward in The Joker War and keeping things tight and right throughout.
3.5 Crowbars out of 5