COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 (DC Comics — The New 52)

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 Cover DC Comics The New 52Week 3 of The New 52 is here, and it brings us a dozen more brand-new DC series! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #1 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. Next up is one of the most controversial, talked-about comic books of 2011: Red Hood and the Outlaws #1. DC has drawn widespread criticism for the caricaturization of Starfire as a sex fiend in this comic book, but that kind of treatment is really selling this book short. There’s so, so much more that this comic book can be criticized for besides the ludicrous character assassination of Starfire.

This review will be full of spoilers of stupid crap.

The Ridiculous:

Much like in my crucifixion of Green Arrow #1, I’ll forgo the formality of creating sections for “The Right” and “The Wrong” because it’s pretty apparent from the introduction what kind of review this is going to be.

Let me describe Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 in 5 words or less:

  1. Brainless.
  2. Sexist.
  3. Misogynistic.
  4. Disgraceful.
  5. Nonsensical.

Rather than split hairs and try to force myself to squeeze out the pros and cons of this first issue, I’m going to list off some of the particularly ridiculous things that occur within it:

  • Roy Harper (Red Arrow) is being held prisoner in some Middle Eastern country, but the mercenaries holding him hostage allow an immensely fat Christian pastor to come into the compound and have a prayer meeting with Roy in the middle of the compound. Uh, no. Just no.
  • The Bible that the pastor brings to Red Arrow opens up to reveal Red Arrow’s bow. Yes, Red Arrow’s bow is apparently made of some material that’s actually paper-thin and capable of being closed into a book inconspicuously with no one being the wiser. And hey, it’s a good thing that the mercenaries never thought to check the pastor and his possessions to make certain he wasn’t smuggling in any weapons or anything, right?
  • …And speaking of the mercenaries not checking over the pastor–Surprise! The fat pastor is actually just Red Hood (Jason Todd) in disguise, wearing a technological robot suit of some sort that is somehow so lifelike that it could fool a whole fleet of mercenaries up-close.  The suit explodes off of Red Hood, enabling him to immediately burst into action.
  • And what action it is! On pages 2 and 3, we see that Red Arrow and Red Hood are surrounded by no less than 19 mercenaries who have them in their sights, poised to shoot sniper rifles and machine guns at them if anything should go astray. And most of those 19 are only on the one partial upper-level wall we can see. In spite of that, these high-paid mercenaries must be totally incompetent, because within seconds Red Arrow and Red Hood manage to kill all of them while remaining standing in the middle of the floor on the lower-level, using only two magnums and a bow and arrows. And how Red Arrow managed to shoot a mercenary on the upper-level in the back with an arrow, I truly have no idea.
  • There’s actually a “Tanks!”/”Don’t mention it.” joke in here.
  • Starfire is introduced to the reader by her breast size. It’s 38, in case you’re wondering.
  • Here’s some more of the amazing, barf-inducing dialogue in this issue–
    Red Arrow: “Is she with you?”
    Red Hood: “With us, yeah. But yeah, she’s been ‘with’ me.”
    Red Arrow: “No way. A girl that classy isn’t going to lower herself to a you.”
    Red Hood: “What can I say? Chicks dig me. It’s the giant red helmet.”
  • “Three Weeks Later…” …Red Hood and company are hanging out on an “island paradise”. Say WHAT?! What the hell has been happening for the past 3 weeks? Why are Red Hood, Starfire, and Red Arrow hanging out at all? Are they a team or friends or what? They haven’t been going on missions–what have they been doing exactly? Why is Red Arrow only asking Jason Todd now what’ll happen when Starfire finds out about the relationship between Jason and Dick Grayson? Wouldn’t he have asked that in the preceding three weeks when they were all sitting around drinking margaritas?
  • While Red Hood is 10 feet away, Starfire nonchalantly asks Roy for loveless casual sex. In spite of the relationship between Jason and Roy (whatever it is), Roy immediately jumps up and takes off to have sex with Starfire.
  • It must have been some sex, because afterwards Roy and Starfire are sleeping contentedly with no concern for the fresh hand-shaped third-degree burns on Roy’s chest, not to mention the smoking burns on the headboard of the bed which Starfire used as a handlebar.
  • Jason goes off and talks to Essence, some Albino vampire-looking chick who only he can see. She reveals that the ancient order of “The Allcaste” has been wiped out, shocking Jason: “Nothing short of an alien invasion could do that.” Really, Jason? That’s a bizarre thing to say. What about the scariest badass on the planet, Deathstroke? Or the evil Nazi Superman from Men of War #1? In a world filled with thousands of super-powered individuals, the only thing that could wipe out an organization is “an alien invasion”? I don’t think so.
  • Having determined the extent of the danger, Jason decides to go and check out the threat equivalent to an alien invasion by himself. That’s right, after going on an insane near-suicide mission to rescue Red Arrow and recruiting Starfire and then spending 3 weeks on an island paradise, Red Hood goes into a potentially-fatal situation utterly alone. Why did Red Hood even form his “team” (if that’s what it is?) and stay with it all this time if he was just going to go out and risk throwing his life away alone?
  • And the big last-page reveal is: ZOMBIES!!!! (Or maybe aliens. I can’t really tell.) Oooo, haven’t seen that before. Geezus.

Overall: Scott Lobdell was one of my favorite writers back in the 1990’s and I was impressed with his Superboy #1 as part of The New 52, so I had high hopes for Red Hood and the Outlaws. One issue in and I’ve forgotten those hopes as thoroughly as Starfire has forgotten every one of her past friends and lovers. The opening scene of this book was so contrived and senseless it defies words. Then we came to the Starfire garbage. I was so taken out of the story and distracted by the ludicrous characterization of Starfire that I didn’t even remember exactly what transpired in the latter part of this book when I went to write this review, so I had to get the comic and read it again. The primary feeling I’m left with leaving this book is that of being both offended and insulted. And that’s just unacceptable.

Will I be pre-ordering the next issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws? God No.

GRADE: F

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