REVIEW: Red Hood/Arsenal #1

WRITER: Scott Lobdell
ARTIST: Denis Medri
LETTERER: Dave Sharpe
COLORIST: Tanya Horie
COVER ARTIST(s): Howard Porter, Hi-Fi
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASE DATE: 06/10/2015

A little backstory. My first comic book was Scott Lobdell’s Red Hood and the Outlaws. Well, sorry, no. Technically it was Scott Lobdell’s New 52 Teen Titans, but I think we’re all trying to forget about that title anyways. But, my first comic book that I really enjoyed was Red Hood and the Outlaws volume 1. It was awesome. It was fun, it was witty, it was action-packed. The art was by my now-favorite comic book artist, Kenneth Rocafort, and it was gorgeous. Scott Lobdell butchered so many titles, but RHatO was the one he was best at. So, with that in mind, you could understand how I was excited and sentimental to hear about the direct continuation with Red Hood/Arsenal #1. It’s going to be great, right?

Holy crap, wrong.

First off, I don’t know what’s changed. RHatO had great characterizations of three oft-forgotten characters, though some may differ in opinion about that. The first issue of this new series has Roy Harper, my all-time favorite superhero, using not one, but two hashtags in actual dialogue. This coming just a short few pages after 12 exposition boxes and inner monologues on one page. Yeesh, somebody get a leash on Lobdell, this is the exact stuff that makes people hate his Superman or Teen Titans (well, the latter had some other issues as well). And hey. I’ve defended Lobdell’s writing on this particular group of heroes since the beginning. But somewhere along the process of going from Outlaws to just this duo, he decided Roy Harper was now basically a tween.

All this could be forgiven under great art. If Kenneth Rocafort made a triumphant return, or Greg Capullo or Patrick Gleason jumped on, there could be hope for this series for me. But, unfortunately, the only thing as poor as the writing choices Lobdell has made is the line art. Every character has become some weird half-cartoon flat block of clay. Eyes peek out from where they shouldn’t, faces seem like the kind of stuff we see in a kid’s book, and anatomy only seems to line up on or two pages total. And that’s not talking about design. While both characters had great looks previously, apparently now Arsenal is wearing bits of armor over a ski outfit, and Red Hood is wearing what can only be described as what we give 10-year olds when they go paintballing to avoid heavy bruising. The coloring actually isn’t half-bad, although I find myself questioning a few choices throughout. And the lettering, other than a confusing few panels towards the end, is pretty decent.

All in all, this issue was pretty crushing for someone who had high hopes after reading the conclusion of Red Hood and the Outlaws. I mean, same writer, how bad could it be? Apparently bad enough where now I’m debating on whether or not to pick up the second issue, and the only argument I can find for it is that I love Roy Harper and this is the only series I can continually find him in. I wish I could tell all fellow Outlaws fans to rush to buy this issue, but that wouldn’t be honest. This is Lobdell at his worst, and I hope to see him get back to his better stages soon, because I know he can write these characters better.

Oh, and I don’t usually comment on variant covers, because I find DC puts out a mess of them, but it was especially difficult to go from an extremely gorgeous variant cover by Kenneth Rocafort that I’ve shown below to the interior art. I mean, the Porter/Hi-Fi standard cover isn’t bad, but this one is so great it’s already my wallpaper. I know Rocafort is busy currently with Will Pfeifer over on the new Teen Titans run, but I would welcome him back with open arms to this team.

rha1 varcover fin

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