Friday, February 17, 2012

Red Hood And The Outlaws #6 Review [Smart Space Kitty Edition]

Mike DePalo
The Internet owes Scott Lobdell an apology.
Because if issue #5 showed us the warrior path of Jason Todd Lobdell is taking us on then issue six is all about just how wrong so many people were in their preconcieved notions about Starfire. It goes without saying the alien princess is hot, she's a walking nuclear reactor, but she's also the wisest member of this team. Todd comes from a world of characters who can't let go of the past, where everything they do is about some scarring event from youth. Batman characters are in many ways some of the most frail, human people of the DCU. So of course it would have to be a girl from the stars to set Jason straight. The past should not be forgotten but it shouldn't be lived in. You cannot define yourself by the people you've known or their trappings. Lobdell delivers everything with a little bit of a wink saying Kory is the "space kitty who is smarter than anyone gives her credit for. Reminds me of me". Out Jason's mouth, but Lobdell's words [with an assist from Josh Williamson on some of the dialogue]. He's right, she is. We come to understand not only how much goes on in that pretty little bean of hers but also how she works physiologically. She explains how Tamaranean memory works off sights and smells [pheromones] and while she's haunted by her time with Dick Grayson, she won't truly remember him until he's right there in front of her. It's by far one of the coolest things I've ever seen done with Starfire.
The book breaks completely free of the All-Caste/Untitled plot to give us that set-up so many clamored about "Why are these people together?". You don't mind that on this book. We bounce all over the world just like in the first issue. But this travel exists on the dream plane, the memory, the flashback. Aboard a nuclear sub vs. a James Bond-esque baddie, on a deserted island with a starship embedded in it, back and forth to Gotham as both Robin and Red Hood with some guy named Nightwing always there. And speaking of Nightwing, we see a group not called the Titans fighting together, and finally, full circle off to Qurac. Nothing with the Untitled, no plot development there but everything is changed in this book. This was the "here's why" moment and it just works so damn well.
You can't credit Lobdell and Williamson alone. Kenneth Rocafort's pencils and layouts make this book uniquely alive in the new 52. Everything jumps out and nothing is conventional. And colorist Blond does everything in his palette's power to make this book *PoP* month after month. We get plenty of unique redesigns by Rocafort this issue. We see Kory's original costume, a new version of the Disco era Nightwing suit, even his Batmaan suit has been redesigned [and uniquely explained], but don't worry there's some green scaled undies around for good measure. My favorite one is Rocafort's redesign of Jason's original Red Hood biker costume in a Under The Hood flashback. Ken absolutely owns the black leather look and his work really does convince me it was the best of Jason's costumes, even outshining Rocafort's new 52 design from issue 1 on.
So next month we advance back to the future, back to the masses in Colorado chasing Jason, Roy and Kory for killing their local space alien sheriff. But we do it with far greater understanding.
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