WARNING THERE BE SPOILERS!!!
Jason and his crew have gotten their own annual!!!
This is a really big deal for a title, especially one as this. Relatively, Red Hood has been doing pretty ok in sales, and annuals usually go to high selling books. It feels as though DC was going down their line and slowly but surely moving their way to other titles that were selling, and it is finally RHTO's turn. Just in time too, because the next wave of annuals go back to the top selling books.
Here is where many people are worried; the first two issues of James Tynion's run on the Outlaws has drawn a lot of heat from the passionate fans. Frankly this deals with Jason's memory loss and lack of humor. The art has also been on the downside, which makes it harder to enjoy what was good in those issues. But we have an annual coming up, and a fill-in artist who doesn't look half bad.
What I think needs to be said about this series and James, is that I believe that we have entered a very awkward and troubling moment. I am going to say a few things that may get me in trouble, especially since I am a huge fan of the book and most of what Lobdell did. So here it goes.
WHAT NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR:
Scott Lobdell needed to leave the book. Honestly, after he got his gig on Superman, I felt as though he would have to drop one of his books, and the Outlaws seemed the least important to him. Nothing against him, but that is honestly how it feels. A lot of people rant and rave over the series, and though it is a unique book, it had some troubling points. Primarily, the ending of the Untitled arc, the ending of the Space arc, and the dreaded issue 16 of the Death of the Family tie in, where he basically set up Jason in this very emotional situation and didn't even bother to finish it off, leaving it to the stale Tim Drake and his book to finish off Jason's participation in the crossover. Scott left the series on a very high note, mind you, but the way this game works is how well the finish is. James came on in a very sensitive situation, Jason was apparently supposed to get his face burnt off or either lose his memory from Joker's attack, and then literally nothing happened. Jason would later have a reconciliation with Bruce, only later for Damian to die and the effects of his death transition through the other titles. With Lobdell's last issues in the bag, James was already starting an uphill battle, also dealing with the passionate hoodies who would attack at the first sign of trouble, art wise or if someone intruded on what Lobdell did.
WHAT JAMES IS DOING RIGHT:
James took a very unexpected direction by returning to the All-Caste. It is a very nice nod to Lobdell, that a lot of people are overlooking, and also verifies the importance of what Lobdell set up. He also brought back Essence, a character that was sort of discarded for a time. There is a lot to be told of her, and her true intentions, so that really draws people in.
Starfire's memory was a subject of controversy, and James seems to have a firm grasp on it and clarified it. He is also bringing back Roy's past, which is something that Lobdell lightly touched on, and is actually the main focal point of the annual.
Though some may not like it for warranted reasons, James has nonetheless created a new and interesting situation that will put the resolve of the Outlaws to the test, and even put their friendship in jeopardy. This is pure conflict that hasn't been explored before, and is very welcomed.
WHAT JAMES IS DOING WRONG:
Unlike other books when a new team is brought in to shake things up and make the stories and characters interesting again, when a somewhat cult classic or fan based title is tampered with, there will be blowback. Especially if you mess with the core of the title. I am not saying that James shouldn't be doing this, but this feels like a story that he thinks Lobdell wanted told. James does not need to answer to the passionate fans this book has. He needs to establish himself and create his own stories and adventures instead of tinkering with what was left to him. I appreciate his concern and interest in the past of these characters, but this is a story left a little further down the line. Just start off with a short arc, and then transition into this. This gives the reader time to adjust to James, as well as making them prepared for the heavy things to come. James jumped right in the deep end, and the deep end has sharks in it, ready to tear him apart at the sight of trouble.
Jason's memory is the huge problem. It is a nice idea, but creates problems with his involvement with the team. He is now the useless guy on the team, and will most likely appreciate his lot in life. James has to be very careful from this point on, especially with how he handles the memory thing, if he wants my readership for this title.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE ANNUAL:
The annual has been said to mainly feature Roy and his past of Green Arrow, something that Lobdell didn't bother to do and the GA Zero Issue failed at. Jason's memory will still be gone, though last issue I felt it was a hindrance, this coming issue seems like it will work to James' advantage.
We should some character interactions we haven't dealt with before, especially Ollie's, as well as some new characters such as Cheshire. There are a lot of things to look forward to, it just is left up to how James will treat it.
GIVE THE ARC A CHANCE:
Lobdell was heavily criticized in beginning of his run, scrutinized for the treatment of a character's origins, and dismissed as a bad writer. I don't believe any of those things, and I am damn sure James deserves a chance. Once the arc is complete, and you feel the same, then you will be entitled to that, but as of now, there is still a lot to be seen. I recommend reading Tynion's work in Batman and Talon, which have both been phenomenal.
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE ANNUAL?
Is there anything specific you want to see?
Is Cheshire welcomed by the hoodies, and will this mean that Lian has a chance to exist?
Will you give this annual a chance?
Answer below and please be respectful to everyone's opinion.