Saturday, January 4, 2014

Red Hood and The Outlaws, Volume 3: Death of the Family

 The "Death of the Family" crossover keeps a'chugging along...this time: READ HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, VOLUME 3: DEATH OF THE FAMILY!

 Disclaimer: I have never read a comic written by Scott Lobdell that I have even remotely enjoyed.

 Until now.

 This isn't a GREAT comic, but I didn't spend every page wondering how someone like Scott Lobdell ever managed to get work writing, like I used to do with his '90's Marvel output. So that's a good thing.

 Being totally new to RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, this third volume is a great jumping-on point, as it starts with a retelling of Jason "The Red Hood" Todd's origin, before quickly getting readers up to speed with the rest of the team (Arsenal and Starfire), and giving enough information to make things flow smoothly. From there, we segue into a vaguely pointless crossover-within-a-crossover, as the "Death of the family" crossover gives way to yet another crossover, this time between The Outlaws and The Teen Titans. From there, we get to the actual meat and potatoes, which is Jason's abduction by The Joker.

 As they've done with all of the "Death of the Family" collected editions, DC has included BATMAN #17, which wraps up the crossover. I've read a lot of bitching about how people who are buying the whole assortment of crossover collected editions are basically paying to get this same Batman story about a half dozen times.....For what it's worth, I think DC is doing a very wise thing here by providing readers, both casual and hardcore, with an actual ending to the story, rather than a gaping hole that requires you to go out and buy another book.

 My previous complaints about this crossover still stand, with a new one added: For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that goes on about whether or not The Joker knows the Bat-Family's secret identities, I have to wonder what difference it makes, considering that HE MANAGED TO FIND AND OVERPOWER ALL OF YOU! He kidnapped Alfred, Bruce Wayne's Butler. He kidnapped a little boy...Bruce Wayne has a kid THE SAME AGE. He kidnapped Jason Todd, and brags about killing him when he was Robin. If you know you killed Jason Todd, who was wearing a Robin outfit, then you know he was shacking up with Bruce Wayne....so how could you NOT figure that, if Jason Todd was Robin, maybe that big, muscular guy that he lives with is Batman????? It's all a bunch of convoluted bullshit, and as much as DC dances around it, I don't see how The Joker could NOT know who all of these dummies are. Trying to wrap my brain around what I've seen in this crossover, and Scott Snyder's solution to the "Do he or don't he" secret identity mystery, made my brain hurt something fierce. Also, I found the retcon to Jason Todd's origin particularly far-fetched. The Joker basically spent years tormenting some random kid, because, of course, Batman will certainly adopt that kid, and make him the new Robin, and then you can kill him. Of course that plan would work flawlessly! How could it not? Bullshit.

 But, whatever......Lobdell, mercifully, seems to have let go of the Claremont-esque giant blocks of text that marred his already dreadful work on the Marvel X books in the 1990's, and his work here is much less cluttered and faster-paced. There wasn't enough here to make me want to come back for Volume 4, but Volume 3 was a decent read, and a fun way to waste a few hours.

 DC Comics provided a review copy.