REVIEW: Red Hood/Arsenal #3

WRITER: Scott Lobdell
ARTIST(s): Denis Medri
LETTERER: Dave Sharpe
COLORIST: Tanya Horie
COVER ARTIST(s): Howard Porter, Hi-Fi
RELEASE DATE: 08/12/2015

Those of you who read my Titans #23 Retro Review last week will know that I’m a huge Roy Harper fan. They’ll also know that it’s hard to find stories where my favorite character doesn’t have the worst things possible happen to him. Starting in the New 52, DC’s 2011 reboot of their entire universe, Roy’s life got changed quite a bit. He was no longer the single father of the late Lian Harper, a child he had conceived with the notorious assassin Cheshire. Instead, he was now an alcoholic genius archer and mechanic who ended up in a…well, “romantic” may not be the right word for the type of relationship he had with Starfire. My point is, with the New 52 came some fun stories and good writing (Red Hood and the Outlaws volumes 1-3), followed swiftly by a whole bunch of mediocre stories and poor writing (Red Hood and the Outlaws volumes 4-7, plus what I’ve seen of this series so far). So, while his life may be going a little better, his characterization is suffering, and this series is not helping.

To be fair, Lobdell has improved on the atrocities he committed in the first issue. At no point does Roy descend into hashtag speak, though Lobdell’s poor attempts at humor constantly put me in a position where I want to laugh, because my favorite character is cracking jokes, but they’re just so bad. He continues to write Red Hood a lot better, by basically just writing him as a generic 90s tough guy, which seems to be the formula that got Lobdell to where he is today, so I guess he’s just sticking to it.

In art, and it’s hard for me to say, but Lobdell may have been the lesser of two evils in this issue. Denis Medri’s back, after last issue where art duties were taken over by Paolo Pantalena, a knockoff Rocafort that drew overly detailed faces but was otherwise decent; I believe the artists will be switching every issue. Medri continues to give me the same crap that made me hate the first issue’s art. Roy is a clay-head who’s apparently gargling acorns, while Jason gets hit with a weird k-pop haircut that, guess what, wasn’t even in the second issue. So, hopefully that means we only have to worry about Jason’s mess of a haircut in the odd-numbered issues.

It’s getting harder and harder to stick it out in this series. Though he’s improved a little bit, Lobdell continues to deliver mediocre performance after mediocre performance. You would think someone who’s been on and off writing duties involving these two characters for about four years now would be better-suited to write them, but you would be wrong. His partner-in-crime gives the same quality of art that made the debut issue hard to get through and the second issue such a breather. I don’t know how long sheer love of these characters will get me through this series, although I did survive through 22 issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws under a not-so-great writer/artist team, so I guess we’ll see.


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