If there's one thing I loved about writer James Tynion IV's second issue on RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, it's the huge boost in momentum that hits us in the final scene. Tynion's certainly a talented writer, but in all honesty, I really wasn't digging the issue all that much up until that point. But when we finally reach that moment, it mostly countered the mundane feelings I had for everything else in the issue. Maybe it's my love for DC's assassins and lesser known villains, but the concept of everyone gunning for the trio has me super excited. It's by no means the most original idea around and -- perhaps it's eluding my memory -- the detailed reasoning behind it hasn't really been elaborated on all that much, but when it comes to this premise, I'm totally game.
Julius Gopez's art is definitely a mixed bag for me, but there's one panel that really won me over. Roy fires an arrow and it's just so amazingly cinematic. There's excellent use of blur to let us fully appreciate the momentum behind the projectile and, compared to the rest of the issue, this was easily the most engaging panel for me. Additionally, I liked the way Gopez illustrated the issue's surprise cameo at the conclusion.
A trip into Jason's head to justify his drastic choice to his allies should feel emotional and powerful, yet I wasn't hooked. Personally, it felt like covering too much familiar territory without really attempting to showing it in a different light. Yes, we saw his time with the League of Assassins, but it was rather short and didn't do anything other than showing Todd's not a terrible person -- and that's something we all know. It's almost as if they knew this argument over his choice had to happen, so from there they went through the motions simply to lead us to the bigger story that's hinted in the end. It essentially feels like trying to quickly acknowledge Todd's new origin before allegedly leaving it in the dust. It was implied Todd can reverse the memory-wipe, so there's always potential for these elements to come crashing back into the series.
Gopez's art definitely isn't bad, but I'm not a fan of the facial expressions. I can't quite put my finger on it... they basically feel overly dramatic or painfully awkward. Also, we took a stroll down memory lane and saw Jason Todd as Robin, though he was every bit as physically fit as current Todd. He's shorter, but he by no means looks young, so having Starfire say, "He's so small" definitely felt off because... well, he wasn't. He was quite ripped. Minor gripe: Batman's cape. It felt slightly organic and way too large in a standing position. I wouldn't be surprised if he tripped over it.
Covers are notorious for being misleading, but it would be nice if this one didn't give away the fact S'aru had an ulterior motive. Sure, it was fair to assume it, but it would have made the reveal more effective if the cover's dialogue didn't make him so blatantly suspicious.
I'm very curious to see where Tynion will go from here. While the action-packed plot has me stoked (can we please see the return of Drakon?), I'm even more interested to see how he'll handle Todd's future. Like I said above, it's implied this memory-wipe can be reversed, but there's no guarantee he was being honest or that Todd will indeed change his mind. As someone who feels like Scott Lobdell overcomplicated Todd's origin with new elements (his elaborate training, Joker's connection to everything), my interest is certainly piqued. With these dark elements allegedly erased, will we see him become a hero with morals similar to Nightwing instead of an anti-hero? We've already had a small taste of Todd being quite optimistic in this issue, so I'm anxious to see how that will unfold as he's tested in more dire situations and what this could mean for his relationship for the rest of the Bat-family. The poor guy has been through hell and back in The New 52, so giving him some happiness (even if it's just for an arc or two while he's being hunted) is something I'd love to see. Is this a permanent change and a new direction for Todd... or will his memories come rushing back when all is said and done? Only time will tell and, while I thought this issue was just okay, I'm fairly excited to see how this will all play out.