Red Hood and the Outlaws 25

James Tynion IV, Jeremy Haun

 

Zero Year Crossover

 

Spoiler alert!  You have been warned!

 

Finally.  The team from the Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins one-shot issue from Batman and Robin‘s Villains Month have been reunited!  And I must say, they delivered a high quality product yet again.  Writer James Tynion IV embraces what he does best in this issue: Creating a creepy tone and absolutely insane mood.  And artist Jeremy Haun does what he does best in this issue as well: Draw cool characters doing awesome stuff.  So if the creative team isn’t enough to get you excited, let me just say that it features a cast of characters that every Batman fan loves: Jason Todd (duh), Talia, and the Joker.  Not to mention a pretty sweet cameo by Talia’s dad, Ra’s al Ghul himself.  So let’s get down to it.  Why does this book excel where other Zero Year issues (and even, arguably, some recent issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws itself) have fallen flat?

 

Simply put, this story focuses on the main character.  It’s not a Batman story.  It’s not a Starfire and Arsenal story.  It’s a Jason story.  Gotham City is in chaos because of the blackout and Jason is looking for counsel in all the wrong places: First, his drug-addict mother.  Then, his scummy street urchin of a best friend.  And then, quite by chance, the daughter of the most dangerous man in the world.  But when it comes right down to it, the biggest highlight of this issue is the unannounced Joker cameos throughout.  He’s insanely creepy in his bandaged-up shadowy portrayal, inciting violence and destruction all from behind the scenes, just as he said he was doing when he confronted Jason in the Death of the Family event.  So when Jason and his friend stumble upon some dead Red Hood Gang members, take their masks, and help Talia not only infiltrate, but actually kill their new leader, it’s only fitting that the Joker blows up the rest of the gang members and begins what will be known as his lifelong obsession with the man who is destined to become the Red Hood.  And I have to admit, it was pretty sweet seeing Talia and Jason training together.  Connecting the dots and finally feeling like the bridge between Scott Lobdell and James Tynion IV has been completed, the cliffhanger surprise of the League of Assassins taking an interest in the would-be outcast of the Batman family was just icing on the cake.

zero year

The art was amazing.  The characterization was perfect.  And, to be blunt, the last-minute cover change was what did it for me.  It launched the book from “good” to “great,” just by taking the long hair off of the solicited cover.  They could have previewed this like most marketers would have and I would have been not only unshocked, but annoyed.  It could have said, “Batman crossover!  Joker!  Buy it!” and I would have.  But the fact that he wasn’t announced (or really, ever actually called out by name) made his cameos throughout that much more disturbing and haunting.  And that art.  Man!  Is there anyone more fitting for this book?  Let’s keep Jeremy Haun around a while.  He runs laps around the past artists on this book.

 

My Rating: 5/5