Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 review

And this would be the New 52 comic I was most expecting to hate. A title starring the ever-annoying Jason Todd and the patron saint of rubbish choices, Roy Harper - in a baseball cap! Gotta hate it. Well, unless the presence of the always enjoyable Starfire lifts it.

I rather liked it. And I feel a tiny bit bad about that.

The story has Jason rescue old pal Roy from jail in Qurac, where he wound up after packing in the life of a hero to be a soldier of (mis)fortune. Jason arrives in a fat suit, disguised as a man of the cloth. Kory arrives in a few strips of purple metal. Weeks later, back on Jason's home turf, Gotha ... St Martinique?

Hang on, what's a member of the Batman Family in bad standing doing hanging out in a happy place?

Having fun. Lots of it. And much of that with Koriand'r, but she's as happy to get Roy into bed as Jason. Not that Jason notices, as he's put on to a mystery by another old friend, Essence, albino oracle, and is soon in the Himalayas, getting into trouble all on his lonesome.

So what's to feel guilty about? Starfire, for one thing - certainly she's been a bit of a sex kitten (literally, with her people being descended from cats) since her first appearance, tonguing Dick Grayson to learn English. And she's never been shy of showing some flesh. But pretty much every panel of Kory in this issue includes a wiggle of the hips, shake of the tits or arch of the back. She can't remember Dick, or any other New Teen Titans, because, says Jason, 'Tamaraneans don't see humans as much more than sights and smells. And they have a terribly short attention span about all things Earth.'

Ohhhh dear. I know the DC relaunch is a chance to tweak characters and situations, but this is basically a lobotomy. Kory has fans for a reason. Yes. she's relaxed with her sexuality, but she's never been a slapper - the girl just loves to be in love. As well as being open with her feelings, she's whip smart, a born warrior, loyal to her friends ... can she even have friends now? Using a made-up-ten-seconds-ago species-specific trait as an excuse to have the female star sleep with both of the males, well, it's a bit wet dream, isn't it?

I suppose the cover is our first clue - the boys have bodies, Kory is a head, breasts and a couple of stunted arms.

Worse, though, is that her fresh perspective on Earthlings looks to have made her happy to turns tanks to slag with men inside them. The old Kory killed, yes, but not when there are other options; this version is oblivious to the murders she's committing. I'm all for alien perspectives, but heroic ones are preferred.

It's a shame the treatment of Kory is so annoying, as there's plenty to like in this comic book - the recreation of Jason as adventurer rather than Black Sheep of the Robin line; the implications of Jason and Roy's friendship (traditionally Dick Grayson was his best friend, has that changed?); adventuresome larks around the world; a visually arresting new supporting character in Essence; a mystery man in Chicago with an even more enigmatic shadow; genuinely funny lines and some enjoyable groaners.

And Starfire's contortions apart, Kenneth Rocafort's artwork is perfect for the comic, full of facial expressions that speak volumes, well-pitched battles and mad dashes. He varies panel design to control pace, jollying the story along nicely, and adds fun bits of business such as tropical panel borders. Blond seems to have spent days perfecting Kory's skin tones, but has still found time to produce cracking colourwork throughout - never mind the comely Kory, I could spend all day just staring at his twinkling Caribbean.

I'll certainly give this book a few issues, to see how things settle down - Kory having bedded the supremely dim Roy, and the more interesting Jason, there'll likely be a bit of tension, but hopefully everyone will move on and concentrate on derring-do. Who knows, Kory and Roy may even grow a brain between them. If nothing else, I'll hang around long enough for the following statement to be explained. (click to enlarge image as you marvel at Kory's flexibility/deformity).
Dustin?

13 comments:

  1. I'm not positive, but I think that just before Jason leaves at the end, he get's his stuff from the room Roy and Starfire are in, going from the bed in the picture, so he may not care that they slept together. Jason only implies he HAS slept with her, not that he has slept with her recently.

    Also, it isn't said that Starfire doesn't remember any of her past, and it seemed to me that when Roy was asking her about it, she did her best to change the subject. Could it be she doesn't remember and has an incredibly short memory? Yes.

    Could it be she SAYS she doesn't remember so she doesn't have to talk about it and it will be explained later in the story? Seems more likely.

    Good review, I know I'll be happy to keep picking it up and so far have no issues with it.

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  2. Nice review. I also thought the book was a lot of fun. But I did't even feel guilty about the new take on Starfire. It's a new DCU, and this version worked just fine for me. I actually wrote up a defense of Lobdell's take on Starfire here:

    http://readrant.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/is-starfire-a-bimbo/

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  3. My theory about "Dustin" is that Roy suspected Kory was faking it. So he tossed in a bogus name amongst the ones she should remember, to see if she reacted any differently to that one. He's testing the parameters. Not really that dim!

    So far we only have Jason's interpretation of what's up with her memory, and that could be very different from the truth. Clearly she wasn't always like this, since it comes as a surprise to Roy, who knew her previously. Everything here screams setup, so I expect to learn more in future issues.

    I thought it was funny and lighthearted, with some lovely one liners and set pieces, and I loved that these heroes take R&R between missions. It's nice to see characters who remember how to enjoy life.

    It's also about eleventy billion times better than the last book Roy was in, which makes me ridiculously happy.

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  4. Dustin is obviously Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on Saved by the Bell. In the nuDCU, he had sonic powers. He was eventually ground into hamburger by Trigon.

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  5. Have you read the great review on the FA Comics Fanzine site?

    This is just really pitiful.

    I don't think there's going to be a 'reveal' that Kory's faking it. This is just how it's going to be.

    One of my tutors at Uni (eons ago) had a bent for analysing 'homosocial exchange.' This is it at it's most basic level - buddying up by banging the same broad who can't remember what she's embroiled in. It's something you wouldn't even see on the most desperate exploitative TV genre show.

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  6. You're right Jeff, same room. And ace Jase looks a little sad. I think he may have feelings.

    Thanks for the link, Lebeau, I'll take a gander at that.

    Excellent theory, Jules. I do hope you're correct. Maybe she's on a R.E.B.E.L.s mission. OK, obviously not, but please let there be more to this than meets the eye.

    Dustin Diamond, eh, Rob? It'd be fun if Mario Lopez turned up and taught everyone a few dance steps.

    Is that Will Morgan's review, And-Ru?

    http://comiczine-fa.com/reviews/red-hood-and-the-outlaws-1/

    It's well worth a read. As for your tutor's ideas, I can see how that may be the case.

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  7. Good review and it seems you had basically the same view of this as I did.

    http://readrant.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/review-red-hood-and-the-outlaws-1/

    I really am hoping a better reason soon comes up why Starfire doesn't remember her entire time with the Titans. Especially Dick who she nearly married for crying out loud! Amnesia due to something, faking it for some reason... Just something better than Jason's explanation.

    Still, I think this will be a guilty pleasure of mine.

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  8. I'm in complete agreement here. I ought to hate this, but the funny script and the Roy/Jason dynamic is actually quite good.

    It's kind of like those dreadful Armerican frat house comedy movies starring people like Ashton Kutcher, when you know it's really BAD but whenever you turn over to one on late night TV you can't help watching and chuckling.

    If they got rid of Kori and made this a Roy/Jason team-up book, it would be great.

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  9. I love how people are trying to JUSTIFY Lobdell's writing by saying that "Well maybe we'll have a huge reveal in the future that this isn't really how it is". That's a HUGE what if/maybe. You know the biggest problem with this comic? It's a buddy comic and Starfire is treated like an object in the story, not a character. She's just there as a plot device to cement part of the buddy feeling and so that the guys can have a babe to drool over, but she's not an actual character any more than the beach chair that Roy sits in or the jeep that Jason drives. She's just.. there b/c they need a blow up doll and the straight readers want cheesecake. It's horrid. I hate what has been done with Kory. It's horrid. She's been given the memory of a goldfish. Are we going to get story after story now of Kory lost and unable to remember her own name? because it's that bad. That's not even getting into how Roy has magically been dumbed down so that Jason Todd can seem like the smartest one in the book (when he's probably the dumbest).

    Btw, did anyone else notice that Roy magically gets a new tattoo after sleeping with Kory? Is that a new power of hers? He starts with just the two poison scorpion tats on both arms.. then after sleeping with Kory, he gets a fire tat on his chest? And also notice, that while Kory is detailed in the art, her face is drawn and defined, the artist even throws little beeds on her bikini, but Roy and Jason's faces are very sketchy.. they're bodies are not as finished almost as if the artist didn't really want/like drawing those parts, he just wanted to do more pervy moves with Kory.

    All in all, this title was a horrid idea and I hope it gets cancelled and forgotten VERY quickly.. and Jason Todd can go back to being DEAD as he should be. (Maybe he can take Damien with him? Please.. pretty please?)

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  10. Jan - I totally agree. I guess this is being pitched at the audience they imagine / hope is going to read their relaunched titles.

    If so it's pretty depressing.

    Did you see the interview? Scott Lobedell's favourite page is the one where Starfire is coming out of the sea like a Page 3 Stunna.

    Maybe comics like this should come with a warning label. Not 'for mature readers' like in the olden days' but 'you make like this if you're 12 - 15'

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  11. I'm glad to be in good company, xxadverbxx. I hope Kory's past with Dick hasn't been wiped out.

    I could enjoy this book more if Kory were written out, or written as Kory, as created, David. If she carries on like this it's a waste of potential.

    Great points as regards Kory's role within the comic, Jan. The goldfish analogy is especially apposite. I didn't spot the tattoos on Roy, I suppose they just stopped registering with me. I'm not keen on the Roy design, it reminds me of Rick Mays' from the Arsenal mini a few years back - nothing wrong with it per se, just not appealing to me.

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  12. Not to take away from discussing Starfire, but did Speedy's arm grow back? He's the luckiest junkie alive. It's like watching Requiem for a Dream backwards.

    (I wonder if they're tossing as much of Roy's history out as they can--dead child, relationship with Chesire, maybe even his heroin habit.)

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  13. It looks as though Roy never lost an arm, Googum. And somewhere in an alley, a cat rests in peace.

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