“Red Hood and the Outlaws #1:” Why It Sucks.

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This was going to be the next part in an unfortunately ongoing series of “How Not to Write a Comic Book” but there’s just so much wrong with this book, not just sloppy writing, that to use that as a title would be unfair to Scott Lobdell for putting on his shoulders all of the faults of this book, when he’s only responsible for about 40% of it. So welcome to the long awaited revival of “Why They Suck.”

I can almost hear the planning committee deep within the bowels of DC Comics. “Yeah, we’ve got great writing on the flagship books of our relaunch. We’ve got good artists and popular artists, and at least a few good popular artists too.

“But because ’52′ is the number most commonly associated with our company, although obviously none of us know why because we have a memory that only goes back two years, we need to have 52 books in our relaunch. And we’ve got a few places to fill.

“I know. Let’s take three characters no one gives a shit about and put them in a really crappy book. Then we’ll use it to generate a lot of controversy and that will make all of our books sell.”

Sadly, although the writers and editors of the past several years (since that whole 52 thing, to be exact) don’t give a shit about Starfire and Roy Harper there are some people who do: the comic readers that actually kept DC in business between their far too many reboots.

Red Hood

The hard angles on his skull prove that the Red Hood is a robot. And the reflections and shadows prove that the action is taking place on a planet with four suns.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the art. I got back into comics at the very beginning of the Im-Age but never bothered to pick up any Image books (except for Bone and that does not count at all) because I hated the art. And considering that with me the writing is 99.5% of what makes a book good or crap, for artwork to be so bad that it makes me want to avoid a book means it must really be bad. In this book, Kenneth Rocafort’s art is so execrable that I almost want to think that he drew it as a parody of 1990′s Image Comics. I may just give him the benefit of the doubt.

First off, this book is drawn as if there were no such thing as a curve. Straight lines are everywhere. Jason Todd’s head is composed of straight lines. Roy Harper’s pectorals are composed of straight lines. Even the freaking dirt is composed of straight lines! It’s like he did all his pencils with an Etch-a-Sketch. There’s only one major exception to this “everything is a straight line” rule in this book, but more about them later.

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I sat for ages trying to figure out who Rocafort used as his model for Jason Todd, then it hit me. He must have misunderstood the line in his original description “looks almost exactly like Dick.”

Almost as distracting as the lack of round objects on Earth-Rocafort is his misunderstanding of how the human body actually works. Sure, he probably studied art-school anatomy to learn how to draw perfectly sculpted pectoral muscles (which is not easy with only straight lines) but he didn’t actually pay attention to why different muscles look the way they do on different people. Roy Harper is an archer. Archers need very strong arm and chest muscles to be able to pull back a very powerful bow. Rocafort drew Harper as the scrawniest kid in school (albeit with abs so chiseled you’d think that Rodan created them). The proportions on most of the frames where we see Roy make him look like he’s six-foot-nine and weighs 115 pounds. I could beat up Roy Harper the way Rocafort draws him, and I’m a complete wimp. Unless Rocafort is trying to hint that he’s back on heroin again.

And speaking of anatomy….

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…there’s Starfire.

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Thanks to John Boehner no longer the most orange person on the planet, but certainly one that Lobdell and Rocafort go out of their way to draw people’s attention to. Watch the size of Kory’s breasts and how they change from panel to panel. I think Rocafort is under the impression that Starfire stores her power in her tits and the longer she goes without zapping someone the larger they need to be.

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Janet Jackson showed less tit than Starfire does in any frame of this comic and suffered so much more shit for it.

Yeah, I know that Starfire has always been a little… well… free with her expressions of emotion. For Rao’s sake, she laid one right on the real Robin’s lips within seconds of meeting him. But the attitude that Kory seems to put forward about sexuality in Red Hood is so diametrically opposed to how she has always explained her openness in the past as to convince me that this is not Kory, but a Skrull that escaped from the Marvel Universe, landed in the “New 52,” and decided to imitate Kory without ever reading a single issue of The New Teen Titans first. Laura Hudson put it so much better over at Comics Alliance than I ever could, so go read her analysis of Skrull!Kory for further insight. But I will reprint the dialogue from one classic New Teen Titans panel that Hudson includes in her article:

On my world we allow ourselves to love many people… always emotionally…

Now as Lobdell puts it:

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So who are we to believe about Kory’s attitudes towards emotional connections with sex? Scott Lobdell or Marv Wolfman? I gotta go with the man who created the character.

And while we’re on the subject of “Kory would never say that,” let’s add to it that Roy would never say what he said. Or do what he did off panel. Roy was never a promiscuous horndog. Yes, he fooled around with Wonder Chick and fathered a child with Cheshire, but he had very strong emotional attachments to the two of them. Plus, he still sees Kory as Dick Greyson’s girl, to some extent. And he’s got a history and friendship with Kory going back practically to the beginnings of her life as a superhero. For Roy Harper to just jump into bed with someone he’s known (not to mention faced down horrible screaming death alongside) since his adolescence would not be something to be taken so lightly as to say he’d be “happy to oblige.” It would be the first step down the road to a likely relationship. And he wouldn’t do that with someone who treats sex as if it had no meaning.

In conclusion, I almost do have to wonder if DC created this book just to stir up shit and try to get some attention from the nerd media. If that’s the case then they succeeded. But if it was, as they claim the purpose of the New 52 was, to tell compelling stories and diversify their product line, then they failed. Miserably.

In light of this book being so eye-gougingly bad, I almost take back what I said about Mr. Terriffic #1. Well, almost. But only because this book shows me just how much worse MrT could have been.

5 thoughts on ““Red Hood and the Outlaws #1:” Why It Sucks.

  1. I agree with most of what you said, bro, but ironically that’s not my biggest gripes with the book so to speak. First off, why would Roy and Khori be throwing in with Jason in the first place given the fact that Jason beat Tim within an inch of his life in the Titans tower, tormented Dick and Ollie, kidnapped Mia and blew up her high school and was a total jerk-off to Donna and Kyle during the Countdown saga? Not to mention that Jason is a remorseless killer and sociopath so I don’t see these two cozying up to him-especially Roy. If anything I can see these two being foils to him by trying to hunt him down and bring him to justice for all his crimes. This book would have been better if some other characters had thrown in with Jason instead such as Azrael( Jean-Paul), Harley Quinn, Grace, Thunder or Freight Train( A character that’s ironically more hated than Jason). Or better yet, why not have a new Outsiders book instead? Those are just my thoughts.

  2. man my comment comes in really late, but I just wanted to say that I agree with what you say. I actually do care about these characters and to have them turned into whatever it is that they’ve become in this book just sucks. No fancy word for it… the writing just sucks.

    When I heard that Jason Todd (the most interesting of the Robins due to recent events) was getting his own book, I was pretty excited, but this book just killed the idea.

  3. Just now found this article, I know it’s old. Wow, man. You think Kenneth Rocafort sucks?! Jesus, I’d LOVE to see who you think is GOOD. Some people’s opinions never cease to amaze me.

  4. What are you nuts! Rockafort is the best artist in comic hands down. Don’t tell me you are one of those guys that think Allred is good.
    :)

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