redhood cover 18RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS 18
Writer: Scot Lobdell
Artist: Tyler Kirkham
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Before I climb atop my high horse, let me say this is an amazing issue. I would say THE BEST issue of RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS to date. Lobdell peeled away psychological layers in Jason Todd that few writers have ever dared to explore. This issue fully redeems the once nostalgia-riding upsell tactic of Todd’s resurrection into an actual honest to God good idea for the Bat and DC universe.

Kirkham is a wonderful welcome change to Rockafort. I’ll miss the Rock, I’m on the hells yes side for his unique stye. I’m also a bit upset I must retire my coined LobRocster contraction, because LobHam just doesn’t sound as good, but Tyler keeps the energy strong and fast which is a staple of this book. His style brings a darker less cartoony tone, which is exactly what was needed for the deep soul searching Jason undergoes in this issue.

However, I have an issue. And it’s not aimed at Scott, Tyler or any of the other creators on the Bat books. Unless you just woke up from a coma, you know doubt that Damian Wayne is no longer with us. To commemorate this event, the Bat books following Damian’s demise have all come with the sub-brand of “Requiem” with a beautiful Robin branded R leading the phrase.

Requiem is defined as “a mass for the dead.”

Makes sense, no? I mean Damian did die.  So why for the sweet love of Fisher Brothers Funeral Services have I read two books now that have the Requiem moniker and not an ounce of Damian?

I actually defended BATGIRL on our Spoiler Alert podcast this past week when the guys wanted to rail on this topic…until I realized I couldn’t. Yes, I laughingly tried to argue that Dick Grayson telling he Babs he was too upset to talk right now counted as a nod to Damian’s death. I know I was reaching, but at least there was an attempt. RED HOOD though has not one mention of Damian. Not one.

Redemption. Regret. Hell even Rebirth would be very fitting R’s for this title as we watch Jason recoup from recent events in “Death of the Family.”

In his fugue state of recovery we see scenes from the monastery he went to after he was resurrected – a hallucination that crosses ever so gently into reality – interlaced with his lifeless body where Bruce and Alfred hold constant vigil. Between the words of the dead wise-woman we met earlier in the series and Alfred’s tough but tender caring of both Jason and Bruce a transformation occurs. Jason realizes he’s held grudges and those grudges have consumed whatever soul he was resurrected with. He comes to an understanding of self and more importantly the responsibility his gifts place upon him to live by some kind of ethical code. There was a tenderness and endearment to this issue that makes me glad it came so late in the series, because I think all the Mommy bloggers who came after this title simply don’t deserve this level of good storytelling in their lives (yeah, I’m still not letting that go).  When Bruce and Jason hugged at the end, I was a little verklempt and not once felt it was forced or hokey.

I’ve had a few even stauncher than I defenders try to say this isn’t a literal Requiem. First off, no shit, I didn’t expect a cross-over comprised of Gregorian chants. When I probe further these Internet sages try to say it’s a metaphorical Requiem for the “Death of the Family.” I’ll be honest, I was close to buying this, until once again I look at the word on the cover and the R is clearly off of Robin’s costume.

This issue was a departure from the flippant norm (not a slight – I like the irreverence in which this book dabbles usually), but a great departure. It wasn’t a damn Requiem for Damian though.