A series I’ve been following for a long time is Red Hood and The Outlaws, and it’s been amazing to see how Jason Todd has grown over time. Since DC Rebirth, Red Hood has been operating with Batman’s approval, providing he didn’t kill anyone. But after finding out the Penguin was involved in sending Willis Todd to prison, Jason shot the crime boss in front of the world. Red Hood and the Outlaws #25 deals with the aftermath, putting Red Hood and Batman on a collision course with each other. The emotion-packed issue is one of the best that Scott Lobdell has ever written.
The story opens with a flashback to Jason’s Robin days, where he saves Batman from drowning. Bruce tells Jason that if he ever thinks of leaving that it will be his choice. The flashbacks provide some impressive foreshadowing. Back in the present, Red Hood is on the run from the police, with Artemis and Bizarro trying to help their friend.
The highlight of the issue is Red Hood and Batman’s fight, a heart-rending confrontation that damages their relationship again. I’ve enjoyed Jason’s journey back to the Bat Family, but he’s at his most compelling when he’s fighting his own mission. Red Hood doesn’t listen to Batman and it’s good to see him living by his own principles again.
The confrontation is made more satisfying by Jason and Bruce’s motivations. Both have valid points, but their relationship will always be marred by a difference of opinion.
A secondary story unfolds with Artemis chasing after Bizarro through a portal. It’s a convenient way for Jason to be left on his own, but it was good that Artemis finally made a move on him. Their relationship has teetered between friendship and intimacy since the series began, so I was glad to see it resolved.
There’s also a couple of surprising appearances that round off an issue brimming with potential. Dexter Soy has proven time and again why he’s an amazing artist, so he makes every panel count for the story. The attention to facial detail comes through when Batman hits Red Hood hard enough to shatter his mask. The look of pure rage on the Dark Knight’s face is damn scary.
Red Hood and The Outlaws #25 is a spectacular issue that hits all the right marks. It pushes Jason in a new direction, while also reminding fans why they got behind him in the first place. He’s getting a new costume in the next issue, so I’m interested to see how that will look.