Red Hood Outlaw Prince of Gotham by Scott Lobdell, Pete Woods and Rex Lokus
DC Comics, pb, £10.65
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Jason Todd, Red Hood, is back in Gotham, this time in the limelight as the new owner of The Iceberg Lounge, the one-time legitimate front for The Penguin. But where is The Penguin and what is Batman going to say when he sees Jason back in Gotham after he’d been told to leave for good.
Trapped in another reality, Artemis and Bizarro have teamed up with a group of familiar-looking characters as part of their plans to make it back home. However, with Artemis captured, and Bizarro’s intelligence falling daily, their future is not looking bright.
I need to start by saying this may be one of my favourite Red Hood graphic novels and it’s all down to Jason’s wit. We open with Jason being interviewed as the new owner of The Iceberg Lounge and talking about Bruce Wayne’s influence in his life, which as anyone who has followed their stormy father/son, mentor/trainee relationship will know, is just asking for trouble. So, it isn’t a surprise when Bruce Wayne turns up as Batman, threatening to drag Jason to jail for killing The Penguin (see Red Hood and the Outlaws: Good Night Gotham). Jason’s response is so typical of him, full of attitude and sarcasm, outright challenging Bruce to do it, because Jason would love to hear how he will justify accusing his adopted son of murder. Batman leaves through a broken window in a huff and Jason surmises the exchange went well. The whole meeting is funny and strained, as befits their relationship and Jason’s King of the No-Sh*ts attitude, while also tinged with what could be interpreted as regret.
The story is pretty simple and lots of fun. The Penguin survived being shot in the head by Jason, I won’t tell you how, and Jason wants to be sure that The Penguin doesn’t remember who the Red Hood is, and so by proxy, who Batman is. Jason does this in a variety of ways, including some that are reminiscent of Under the Red Hood which is another of my favourites. Prince of Gotham reminds us that Jason is intelligent and has his heart in the right place, even if his methods are questionable.
Woods’ art captures Jason’s personality brilliantly, even though there feels like there is less physical activity. Most of the time, Jason is getting his own way with a smile and a threat rather than killing anyone. We see Jason as the suave son of Bruce Wayne, used to cameras and glitz, and also as the very physical Red Hood. They are two different people in one body. Woods conveys each aspect of Jason without compromising on attitude.
Artemis and Bizarro form a much bigger part in this book. Their relationship has changed, becoming more dependent on one another in this different reality, but Jason is never far from their thoughts. It is an interesting storyline where they have allied with a very Joker-esque character, in both appearance and actions, to return to their world. Both their storyline and Jason’s finish with Lex Luther, making me wonder exactly what Lex has planned for them.
Prince of Gotham is a great read full of humour and character development. A definite must-read for Red Hood and Batman fans.