EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want to see Jason Todd spoiled, dial 1-900-SPOIL-ROBIN! If you don’t want to see Jason Todd spoiled, dial 1-900-FUCK-OFF-DUDE-ROBIN-SUCKS-WHERE’S-MY-TWO-DOLLARS-DIDIO! Either way: I’m a-spoiling this book!
I am sick. Deathly sick. Like, “Wow! I think I must have obtained spider powers somehow because every 30 to 45 seconds, I appear to be horking up webbing!” sick. And I can confirm that Peter Parker was wrong; with great power seems to come great chills, fever and runny stool.
As such, I have very little energy to do anything, and am desperate for a solution that will make me feel better. So I decided to read Red Hood The The Outlaws #6. Which, based on Amanda’s experience reading the first issue, might mean that I’m am not just sick, but also very, very stupid.
I purchased the issue before I became quite as ill as I am now, so I can’t even blame antihistamines or brain fluke or whatever. No, I bought it because the cover proclaims that this issue contains the first meeting between Red Hood and Starfire, meaning that despite skipping issues 2 through 5 (Yes, I bought one in between, but didn’t have the heart to put myself through reading it), maybe I could get an explanation about Starfire’s post New 52… priorities.
So let’s get it out of the way: is this issue any good? Well honestly, it is better than the first issue. That doesn’t mean it’s good, per se; I recently put out something better than Red Hood And The Outlaws #1, albeit being somewhat runny.
The storytelling is problematic right out of the gate. We open with Red Hood on a sinking submarine which we are told that Red Hood infiltrated to prevent the delivery of nuclear weapons to the coast of Miami. And we are shown that this is a massive, Russian submarine, meaning that the sub itself is designed for battle and probably nuclear powered beyond whatever bombs it is carrying. We then see Red Hood – plain-old-human and former Robin Jason Todd – apparently punching through the hull of the attack sub (Which is under at least a couple dozen feet of water pressure to boot) to escape. Hey, maybe he got superpowers! How’s his stool look?
Then the nuclear submarine that is packed with nuclear weapons explodes, meaning that if Red Hood didn’t have superpowers before, he has them now… provided you consider thyroid cancer to be a superpower. I know a dude who had it, and the only crime he fights is underaged drinking… by trying to drink all the Harp Ale himself. But I digress.
Red Hood is then rescued by Starfire, and nakedness on just about everyone’s part ensues.
I will give writer Scott Lobdell some credit here: the meeting between the two characters sheds a little bit of light on the Red Hood / Starfire relationship, and makes Starfire slightly more sympathetic than the cock-trolling maneater she appeared to be in the first issue. But it does nothing to get to the bottom of her apparent amnesia over Nightwing, and it maintains her, shall we say, clitoral zen approach to interpersonal relationships.
But frankly, it sheds a lot more light on Red Hood’s motivations than it does Starfire’s, and considering the uproar over the first issue was based on her actions, that’s a problem. We learn in this issue that Red Hood takes comfort in knowing Starfire because he is filled with rage and has felt abandoned and distant from Batman and Nightwing. He learns from Starfire that he should learn to live in the present and put the painful past behind him, and he values her for that lesson.
As to Starfire’s motivation in the relationship? Lobdell shows us that it’s based on the fact that Jason Todd looks like Dick Grayson, and she seems to think that the word “talk” actually means “fuck”. Starfire seems to exist only to be the Perfect Woman to fix poor, broken Jason Todd – a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, provided “manic” means “space zen” and “pixie” means “with orange tits that defy gravity.” To be fair, her characterization and actions are not as egregious as they seemed in the first issue, but Starfire continues to appear to exist mainly for the benefit of the male characters in the book. Which might have been an exciting concept had I read it when I was fourteen years old, but now? My budding spider-powers have put me above such feelings. Or any feeling beyond sick headaches and chills. But I again digress.
Kenneth Rocafort’s art on the book serves the story well, particularly considering that there is next to no action – the battle at the start of the book comprises one gunshot, a busted sub hull and an explosion – and most of the book is about nearly naked people on a tropical island. Rocafort delivers cheesecake and beefcake like nobody’s business, and a few months ago I wouldn’t have believed that someone could show me an orange girl that made me want to do anything but shout “grenade” and swear off tequila. This issue is The Blue Lagoon with a wrecked spaceship instead of a schooner, and his art is perfect for it. In addition, he draws excellen expressive faces, and his storytelling is generally clear and effective. I like the guy’s art… I just wish I was seeing it somewhere else.
This issue is a step up from the first, but then again, considering where that book landed, it almost has to be. It generates a little more sympathy and logic behind the relationship between Jason Todd and Kori, but that sympathy falls almost exclusively on the side of Jason – it still seems like if anyone, even Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, ran into Starfire, she’s let him break off a piece. And maybe that’s the point; Lobdell came to prominence in the 90’s, when selling cheesecake to teenagers under multiple variant covers was the name of the game. But it’s 20 years later, and those of us who grew up and entered into adult relationships don’t have a lot of time or patience for adolescent wish fulfillment like this.
Bottom line? The book’s better, but still not worth buying. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to use my new-found powers for good: the neighbor kids are running around outside, and I think they would appreciate a school vacation full of whimpering naps punctuated by waddling runs to the bathroom. I am justice… I am the night… I am… Patient Zero!