Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1

Red hood and the outlaws is my favorite story to come out of DC rebirth. I think what surprised me the most is that I actually became attached very quickly to Jason Todd. In the past, I always gravitated toward Nightwing, but it wasn’t an automatic connection. I found that I was forcing myself to enjoy the Nightwing character and his stories. Whereas with Red Hood and the Outlaws I was drawn in instantly and actually felt a lot more emotion in his series than what I expected going into. I went in with only the faintest knowledge of his tragic history. What I found was a character eager to redeem himself, but he still held onto his belief that he could do more good by becoming an anti-hero.

Rebirth #1 begins with Jason Todd meeting Batman in Crime Alley. At first, it’s not entirely clear why Batman decides to take this boy under his wing. But slowly you realize that he did it because he saw a lot of potential in Jason. Even though he wasn’t exactly sure that Jason would become the kind of hero Batman wanted him to be ,he knew that Jason was capable of doing great things and so he wanted to guide him on his journey

Jason immediately takes to his fight training and to his criminology studies. It’s not because he’s a great genius and everything come so easily to him. But he consciously puts in all the effort that he can because he finally has something that he didn’t have before. He concisely explains his motive like this: He finally has people that believe in him. A very important notion that shapes Jason’s life. I thought that was a powerful thing to convey very early on in the story.

On one of their outings to protect the streets of Gotham, they run into Two-Face and some of his thugs. In that encounter, Jason actually saves Batman’s life. But in doing so, he gives into his anger over the fact that this man tried to kill his partner and mentor. He loses himself and beats Two-Face pretty bad. You see Jason’s fists covered in blood and Two-Face unable to defend himself. Batman angrily steps in and says, “OK that’s enough”.

So from there you can begin to understand that even though Jason is trying to do the right thing he succumbs to his emotions and isn’t afraid to inflict excessive amounts of pain to people he feels deserve it. It’s basically a small glimpse into Jason’s psyche. He treasures Bruce and what he’s been given by this father-figure. So, he aggressively defends it and is able to lose himself in the process.

The story moves into the present day. We see the Red Hood make a pretty bad-ass entrance into the story by flying through the air on his motorcycle firing guns down at police officers that are trying to protect the mayor. It seems like he’s a mad-man that doesn’t care about murdering people out in the open. But, you’ll find out a little bit later what’s actually going on here.

As he makes a beeline for the mayor, Batman arrives to prevent him from harming the mayor. He knocks Jason on his ass. Jason stares up and sees the towering figure of Batman in a scene identical to when he first encountered him in Crime Alley. Jason gets up begins to engage him in a fight. Quickly, he manages to surprise Batman with an electric shock that came from a taser built into Red Hood’s body armor. The scene ends with what looks like Red Hood shooting the mayor in the head from point blank range.

We transition from there to Jason inside of a bar being pretty much congratulated by a bunch of other criminals for what he did. The bartender talks to Jason about the origins of the name “Red Hood” and brings forth a painful memory of when the Joker beat Jason with a crowbar and left him in a building to die from an explosion.

It’s just a one page spread, but it’s pretty powerful. A couple of pages later we see Jason revived by one of the Lazarus pits. After he comes back he’s furious with Batman for not avenging him by taking the Joker’s life in return. That’s followed by Jason mentioning that his relationship with Batman was never the same after that

One of goons at the bar sits next to Red Hood and tries to recruit him to the Black Mask’s “false face” society, which is pretty much a growing gang that has big plans for Gotham. Jason takes a card from the guy and sees that he has his in for getting deeper into Gotham’s underground crime world.

From there the story moves to the Red Hood’s underground headquarters which is in a convenient location, right below a Gotham city police station. When he arrives he sees Batman is actually already there waiting for him and is basically there to let him know that he deduced Jason’s true motives for attacking the police officers and the mayor early on. He was trying to save the mayor’s life by injecting him with an antidote to a techno-organic virus that the mayor didn’t even know was in his body.

They then get into this conversation about why Batman didn’t trust Red Hood. Why was Batman constantly watching over him trying to stop Jason Todd in his endeavors? Bruce counters by saying that he actually did trust him, but he also wants to make sure that Jason doesn’t cross the line. Because Jason hasn’t had the cleanest record. He’s gone overboard when trying to enact his own idea of justice. Batman ends the conversation by saying, “This is my town. My rules. So if you do anything I think is too shady or if you take someone’s life, for any reason, I’m coming after you.”

This issue ends with a flashback that Jason has of him and Bruce in the batcave. Alfred is preparing to take a picture of the two of them. They’re wearing their Batman and Robin costumes. The two of them have a funny exchange about how they should pose for the picture. Bruce doesn’t seem to pleased by Jason’s jokes.

From there, we’re brought back to the present and inside of Jason’s room. He looks at the photograph of that time in the batcave and you get to see how the picture actually turned out. The two of them are standing side by side and smiling. It’s a really touching moment.

Finally, on the very last page, as Jason is talking to himself he says that he’s definitely not the person Bruce wanted him to be. However, he hopes that Bruce will realize that actually Jason is becoming the man that Bruce needs in his life. The kind of person that will do things Batman is unable to do or unwilling to do. Someone capable of being more ruthless and using morally questionable methods to stop criminals in Gotham city. Jason happily takes that burden onto himself.

As I said in the beginning, this is a very emotion-filled story. It has a lot of action, too. Following issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws have even more of both. That’s the reason why I was impressed with it and why I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

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