Believing the Black Mask: Red Hood and the Outlaws #4 (Review)
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Dexter Soy
Color by: Veronica Gandini
After a slow start, Red Hood and the Outlaws has developed an interesting premise for a series. Scott Lobdell started strong in the first issue, but the second action packed issue stumbled. Lobdell recovered in the third issue creating the setup for an interesting team. Here in issue #4, Lobdell is finally starting to answer some of the lingering questions from the first few issues. He scripted the series to leave out some information for the reader, but he is now starting to reveal that information. Last issue, readers here Black Mask say that he cannot find any information on Jason Todd’s identity. This seemed odd given how long the Red Hood has been around, but with all the reboots and rebirths one could assume it was a product of the restarts. Black Mask seemed to foolishly not notice Red Hood and Artemis working together instead of fighting during issue #2. Here readers learn that the Black Mask did know Jason was the Red Hood and that he was not fully committed to working with the Black Mask. For a criminal kingpin, the Black Mask seemed pretty unintelligent. But now Lobdell continues to pull the curtain back to reveal that the Black Mask had a plan from the start. Finally, readers can start believing the Black Mask rather than questioning his intelligence.
In addition to giving readers a reason to invest in the Black Mask, Lobdell delivers compelling scenes between Jason and Bizarro. As highlighted in our exclusive preview, Lobdell scripts a tense interaction between the three main characters. Lobdell continues to provide compassion and depth to Jason’s character that was not always present in the last iteration of this series. Dexter Soy’s artwork in these panels illustrates both the physical threat of Bizzaro and his emotional vulnerability. Jason’s tender concern for treating Bizzaro as a person and not a monster is depicted in a way that builds a relationship between these characters. This solid initial character development should provide good storytelling opportunities in future story arcs. Soy’s artwork remains solid and consistent. Soy’s details in the confrontation with the Black Mask provide subtle power dynamics and threats to simple conversation.
Lobdell and Soy’s depictions of Artemis and Bizzaro continue to provide a sense of power along with growing characterization. With the reveals in this issue, Lobdell has rounded the corner on setting up this book and the story is gaining momentum. The creative team has given readers enough reasons to believe that the series is worth following.
For readers who haven’t yet decided on the series, issue #4 is a good point to jump back in. For those that have stuck around, the story is finally starting to payoff. Either way, Lobdell and Soy have set up an adventure worth following.