RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #20 / Writer: Scott Lobdell / Artist: Dextor Soy / Colors: Veronica Gandini / Letters by Taylor Esposito/ Publisher: DC Comics / March 14, 2018
Previously on the pages of Red Hood and the Outlaws, Artemis revealed to Jason she “mostly” only set up the date thing to talk about Bizzaro’s changes. Artemis comments that he is getting stronger and asks if Jason has noticed. Jason’s own internal monologue shows he has had a lot of the same thoughts since Bizarro called out Batwoman, forced them to join the Suicide Squad, and continues to hide plans and make major decisions for the team without including Jason and Artemis. The two later meet up with Bizarro at a bar breaking up a fight between him and Solitary but only after making a deal to find out what is going on and hope it is not too late.
The comic opens with a man on his phone opening the “HenchMates” app, a social media app designed to connect henchmen to super-villains, gang leaders, mobsters, and more who need assistance on upcoming “jobs.” We then see Jason in full Red Hood get-up reading in the dark musing to himself how it would be easier if he could just smother his target to death with a pillow, if wasn’t for the fact that he promised Batman. When the man wakes up we learn he is in Gotham to make an arms deal with Penguin but Jason strongly persuades him to instead leave the city.
While Jason leaves to meet up with the rest of the Outlaws, Artemis is trying to reach Bizarro in hopes of finding clues as to why Bizarro is acting so…bizarre. The remainder of the issue is extremely important to Bizarro’s negative character development and the future of the Outlaws.
This issue was not at all what I was expecting and in a lot of ways I blame the cover. That being said, I am not disappointed. Previously, a lot of the issues of the series have been feeling like filler but this issue feels vital to the story and marks a serious change in the character of Bizarro. I loved Lobdell’s writing on the arc “Death of Bizarro” and this feels like the start of a worthy and darker successor to that storyline.
The idea of the app for bad guys was unique and one of my favorite parts of the story despite it playing a only small role in the overall story. I would love to see it used in more DC stories. In addition, Esposito’s lettering work on the logo for the “HenchMates” app was impressive. The art in this issue was striking. I greatly appreciated how well Artemis was drawn. Sometimes artists struggle with her design since she is an imposing figure, however Soy was able to impart her athletic and feminine nature in a flawless manner that felt true to the character. This design with the Gandini’s color work on the last two pages panels create a haunting visual that I’m sure will spark worry and any loyal reader’s heart.
The final panel makes it clear that the future of the Outlaws is uncertain and the Bizarro we have grown to love may no longer be the one on the page.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 HenchMates app downloads
In addition to writing and tweeting into the void, Elizabeth Garcia enjoys applying ethical and political theory to modern comics while wearing leggings and drinking wine with her cat on her beat-up couch.