The focus of the Death of the Family arc is for Joker to try to get rid of everyone close to Batman. Joker feels Batman has become too distracted with those in his immediate "family." Even though things are still a little rocky between Batman and Jason Todd, he is still part of the Family. We've seen Jason's willingness to help out during the Night of the Owls storyline as well as discover his role in helping Batman in BATMAN INCORPORATED. What we want to see is Jason deal with the fact that Joker is the guy that killed him when he was Robin.
Now in the pages of RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, we're seeing Jason evolve a bit. He has come to terms a little with what Bruce means to him and will still do heroic deeds when needed only he will do so with his brand of justice rather than Batman's. Jason has even let his guard down a little which we're seeing may prove to be a fatal mistake.
As in the other titles, Joker is unleashing a meticulously crafted plan. We know he has had plenty of time to set everything up and has been taking all the possibilities into consideration. This isn't the typical goofy Joker we've often seen. He's cold, twisted and calculating and Scott Lobdell guides him along as he tries to push Jason's buttons.
Because this isn't just Jason Todd's series, the other Outlaws, Roy and Starfire, also play a part. The nice thing about Lobdell writing two series crossing over into this arc is he can also bring in the Teen Titans as they try to figure out what happened to Red Robin. This meeting of the two teams is going to make these issues work better than some of the other Death of the Family tie-ins. Joker may have had a lot of time to plan for everything but it's getting harder and harder to accept that he could be taking on all the members of the Bat-Family on their own. If Joker can deal with both Jason and Tim at the same time it's almost like the old saying about two birds and a stone.
It does feel as if we're getting Joker-overload. It's not fair to hold that against this issue in particular but with every additional crossover issue, we're being asked to accept Joker as a brilliant criminal mastermind capable of taking on every single member of Batman's inner circle plus have the time and means to be at every trap in each separate comic. Jason almost falls too easily into Joker's plan. He needs a way to get Jason to go along a certain path. He sets up the events nicely but you have to wonder if Joker had a half dozen different routes planned or just got really lucky he was able to 'predict' the exact way Jason would try to make his escape in the opening pages. Yes it's comic book logic but Joker is becoming almost omniscient in each issue he appears in.
The art is still taking some getting used to. I'm not one to compare one artist to whoever worked on the book previously. I have voiced my support for Timothy Green II with his first issue but there were moments here the art fluctuated a little. Blond's color does help the book have the same feel it's had throughout the New 52.
Death of the Family continues with Joker targeting yet another member of the Bat-Family. Now we're seeing Jason's role in Joker's attacks against the heroes. With the history the two share and what we've seen in the zero issue, this can easily amp up to epic proportions. The biggest problem with this issue really isn't a direct fault of the book. There's getting to be too many Joker stories in this event. We're on the verge of Joker-overload, something I didn't think was possible. The other problem was the fluctuation in the art. There were moments the characters looked good and others they felt a little flat. Joker is proving himself to be one of the most elaborate criminal minds in the DC universe as he continues to have plan after plan and is coming up with contingency plans for every event that would impress even Batman. Seeing some follow up on the events in the zero issue is great and crossing over with TEEN TITANS is going to be fun.