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Review Group - Red Hood: The Lost Days #1

starlord had the pick for new comics shipping June 3rd and he selected Red Hood: The Lost Days #1 by Judd Winick and Pablo Raimondi.


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The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.

Yes, the Review Group front page thing is a bit late this week. Kind of like the story of how Jason Todd got reality punched back into the land of the living after many a 1980's DC fanboy voted to have the Joker crowbar him to a bloody lifeless pulp.
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0602-redhood_cover.jpgReview by BlueStreak

To preface, I've only been reading the Batman books for about a year. I figured the whole Batman: Reborn relaunch gave me a chance to jump on with relatively little problems. So, I've never read any of the Under the Hood stuff. I knew that Jason Todd was back via reality punch, I knew he was angry for the world, and I knew that he's an antihero at best and a villain at worst. I also know that he has a surprising handle on social networking and viral marketing due to his Batman and Robin arc. But other than that, he's kind of a blank slate to me.

So, we kick off this mini-series with Ra's a Ghul informing his daughter Talia about Jason Todd's death. Talia, being the concerned love interest of Batman that she is, keeps tabs on Gotham and eventually comes into the possession of one half brain-dead Jason Todd. She takes him in, cares for him, and is forced to make a desperate move when Ra's tells her that Jason has to go.

This was a shockingly engaging and enjoyable comic. For a mini-series that appeared to be filler material designed to suck in Batfanatics, Judd Winnick engages casual fans of the Batman family and makes the reader care about the story he has to tell. Winnick wisely chooses not to disclose how Jason Todd came back to life, nor does he focus on Todd's charactization at all. Instead, Winnick uses Talia as the vessel to make the reader care about Todd, by focusing on what her love for the Dark Knight leads her to do. Winnick obviously gets Talia a Ghul and knocks her characterization out of the park.

Artwise, Pablo Raimondi does a serviceable job. While his art is not fantastic, it doesn't distract from the story, which is what truly is necessary in this case. I don't know if this is Raimondi's first work with DC or if I just haven't paid attention to him before, but I certainly hope that he's used more often by DC as he's a better artist than many of DC's other standard fill-in artists.

Overall, while I wouldn't reccomend this to the standard non-reader, this is a solid book for even the most casual of comic book readers. If you like the Batman family, then you will enjoy this book.

Story: 8.5
Art: 7
Overall: 7.75

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Review by Eli Katz

I remember A DEATH IN THE FAMILY when it first came out. I remember that brutal scene where Joker beat Jason Todd to a bloody pulp with a crowbar and then blew him up. But I stopped reading comics in the early 1990s and, when I started reading them again seven years ago, I did not pick up many DC books. So I did not read UNDER THE HOOD when it came out or INFINITE CRISIS. Or, thank God, the Superboy Prime reality punch.

In other words, I come to THE LOST DAYS with few preconceptions and maybe a mild interest in the Jason Todd character. I know that this new mini is meant to tell us what happened between Jason's miraculous resurrection and his first battle with Batman as the Red Hood. Unfortunately, the opening issue of this mini does little to spark my interest in either Jason or the original UNDER THE HOOD storyline. Certainly I won’t be reading the rest of this miniseries.

The first chapter of LOST DAYS, entitled PROLOGUE, is light on action and suspense. Ra's al Ghul and Talia learn of Jason's horrific murder, but discover soon afterward that Jason is somehow alive. Talia takes in the devastated Boy Wonder, who is mute and almost catatonic, and does her best to revive him. She is still very much in love with Bruce and wants to restore Jason in order to spare Bruce the pain and loss that she know will rip him apart. As she explains to her father, "[Bruce] will never recover from this." Eventually, however, Ra's al Ghul grows impatient with Jason's slow recovery and tells Talia that she can no longer play nursemaid. Desperate, she decides her only chance to revive Jason is to take radical action.

There is nothing tremendously wrong with this story. But there is nothing tremendously exciting about it, either. Essentially the problem is that Judd Winick has decided to write a project that presents more challenges than it does narrative possibilities. First, it's tough to write a story around a guy who's mute and has the personality of a vegetable. Second, it's tough to write a story where we know what will ultimately happen: Jason becomes the Red Hood and fights Batman. Third, it's tough to bring credibility to a story and a character that are based on a terribly silly retcon -- the super-duper reality punch.

If Winick can get over these three hurdles and pen a story that turns out to be a highly engaging page-turner, then I will salute him. But based on this first issue, I find that to be highly unlikely.

As for the art, Pablo Raimondi is a clear and consistent storyteller. But his style is conventional and, to be honest, a little boring. There is very little energy in his panels. He is one of those illustrators whose work is difficult to distinguish from all the other mundane artists that do so many of DC's books right now.

Bottom line: skip LOST DAYS unless you are obsessed with Jason Todd or need to read yet another Batman-related title.

STORY: 6
ART: 6
OVERALL: 6

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Review by starlord

I wasn't sure what to expect from this because like most writers, Winick is hit or miss with me, but I do tend to enjoy him more than not - especially when he dabbles in the Batman mythos.

As a long, long, long time fan of the Batman mythos, the death of Jason Todd was probably the biggest and most emotional moment that I can ever remember. So when he returned, like so many heores and villains before him, it really turned me off. The reason why, however, actually didn't bother me at all. Like Pam Ewing waking up to find her dead husband Bobby in the shower, it was just ludicrous enough to work for me. No, it was the way he was written after his return that seemed to turn me off.

Now Judd is getting the chance to fill in the blanks. Personally I enjoyed this more than I expected to. Any story that focuses on Ras or Talia can't be all bad. I did see a bit of mystery here; perhaps there is more to his rebirth than a wall punch. I would have no problem with a retcon on this subject, just to stop so many from complaining about it.

It was the art that I had the most trouble with. Close ups were okay but there were several times that they would show Ghul from a distance and he suddenly looked like some ancient chinese guy who could barely walk upright.

My favorite scene was the moment between Talia and Jason where Talia reaches out to the young man on an emotional level. Great moment! Melodramatic? Maybe, but what's wrong with a little melodrama once in a while.

Story: 7
Art: 4.50
My Score: 6.75

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Review by fieldy snuts

I really liked Winick's introduction of Red Hood Jason Todd and went into this hoping for something decent despite it just being an expanded rehash of Batman Annual #25 that revealed his resurrection was due to Superboy Prime's retcon punches.

And that is the main thing I cant get with this book, the fact it was released all these years later. It's fairly obvious that WB/DC just did this to cash in on the upcoming DVD adaption of the 'Under the Hood' story but just one issue in it feels like an unnecessary rehash of what we already knew for no other purpose than to pimp out the DVD.

With that said, it still made for a decent read. Unlike the part of the Annual that this book expanded on, #1 is a more emotional story focusing on Talia and the mindset involved in her throwing Jason into the Lazarus Pit, how her love for Bruce Wayne extended to another member of the Bat family in Jason Todd. The means of his resurrection were also ignored which is probably a great idea given how it was explained.

Summing up my thoughts, its a book anyone who enjoyed Winick's Red Hood stories would like....though its not necessarily anything special or groundbreaking. Just a nice story so far with art that is equally unspectacular.

Story: 7
Art: 7
Overall: 7

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Review by 48THRiLLS

I am not familiar with the Red Hood and didn't know who Jason Todd was until the book explained it was Robin. So that kinda shows how much background I had going into this. Despite being a little in the dark on the goings on of the Bat-verse I actually didn't mind this. Winnick does a pretty solid job of making this pretty accessible to new readers (though I doubt anyone unfamiliar with this character would pick this up). The art had a big part in why I thought this was okay, I don't know how to break down art all I know is what looks good to me and I liked what I saw here. I am not gonna lie, I was not looking forward to reviewing another Batman book since I don't care for the character too much and probably went into this expecting to give it a negative review but I was proven wrong.

STORY - 7
ART - 8
OVERALL - 7.5

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Review by Punchy

Story - I occasionally state on this website that I don't like Batman, even that I hate him, but that's hyperbole, I don't hate Batman, you can't really, it's such a strong superhero concept. I just feel that the character works best in single, isolated bursts, like the movies, or Dark Knight Returns. As a part of the ongoing DC Comics tapestry, it just doesn't work, and the character is not allowed to change at all, I often feel that the ongoing Batman books are the worst example of superhero comics, just each new writer doing their own take on each overrated villain and once in a blue moon creating someone new who will never be shown again (That's you Paul Dini). They suck basically.

Which is why I was so surprised when I really enjoyed Judd Winick's run on Batman a few years ago, probably because it actually did do something new and contribute something substantial back into the Batman mythos, that is resurrecting Jason Todd and making him a villain/anti-hero. It was a lot of fun, with Doug Mahnke's fantastic art, and even an appearance from Amazo, it's probably the best 21st century Batman run I've read. So I'm actually quite excited to see Winick return to his run and explore in more detail the hows and whys of Jason Todd's return from the dead.

Wisely, Winick ignores the ridiculous Superboy punch bull-crap which fucked up the ending of his initial run, and leaves that side of the resurrection a mystery. He instead focuses on what happens when Ra's and Talia Al Ghul get ahold of a catatonic Jason and what they plan to do with him. I liked Winick's take on the Al Ghuls here, I pretty much hate Ra's, but Talia can be interesting, and I'm glad Winick seems to be restoring some of the ambiguity that Grant Morrison has taken away from her in his book. (Speaking of Morrison, I'm kind of hoping for a Damian Wayne appearance here, he must have been born by the time of these flashbacks right?).

Even though he's catatonic and doesn't say a single word in this issue, Jason Todd is still very much centre-stage here, the scenes where he's mindlessly fighting are very well done, and there's a surprisingly emotional hook to his scenes with Talia, a single tear rolls down Jason's cheek, and I suspect some readers may feel the same! Of course at the end, Jason is shoved into a Lazarus pit, and we all know what madness comes after that.

Yes, this have just been released to shill an animated movie, but I was surprised by how good this actually was. I just hope that once Jason becomes an actual person again, the quality doesn't drop. And let's keep the Superboy Punches away this time huh?

Art - Pablo Raimondi is an artist I've been a fan of since his work on Madrox and X-Factor, and he does an able job here. He's not quite up to Doug Mahnke's quality, but he's still very good. I like how blank Jason Todd's face is, and how well he expresses the emotions of Talia and Ra's. The way Jason's kicks break the panel borders in the 'action' scene was also very well done. Good, capable stuff.

Best Line - 'He won't love you'

7.5/10

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Review by guitarsmashley

My biggest problem with this comic was that it felt like I already read it or at least read parts of it. That's where this comic failed for me. I am not a Winick basher at all. I've actually liked his past work quite a bit and have all of his issues of batman and the scarebeast story line is still a pretty good read as is under the hood and really his whole run has been pretty good with the dick grayson issues being his weakest outing. Here he's treading over old territory and even old dialogue in some places. It was word for word and and bubble for bubble. Really this issue filled in the gaps of Batman Annual #25 and those gaps were so minute that the important scenes were just repeated and thrown a few pieces of new dialogue and character development was severely lacking. The art was serviceable but not better than Shane Davis' original issue.

In total I'm disappointed in this recycled issue and if I do end up reading a second issue I hope it shows more development and less why did this need to be told.

6

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Review by amlah6

This was a decent read, but nothing all that intriguing for a non-Batfanatic either. I like Jason Todd and I like that he's back but reading this issue it made it pretty clear that I don't care how or why he came back. I guess the reality punch was good (and absurd) enough for me.

The art was mostly enjoyable except for the one panel where Jason has the mutant pectoral muscle.

Story: 7
Art: 7
Overall: 7

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Review by thefourthman

Batman 635 saw a new villain enter the mythos. His name, the Red Hood. His identity, a mystery at first, but when the mask was finally remove, it was a shock. Gotham was still reeling from the events of War Games. The Black Mask had become the new king pin of crime in the city. Batman had lost another Robin. And then there was this new foe. An enemy not just to Batman, but to the Black Mask as well. He was dangerous to the extreme, able to strike a major coup in the local drug trade with two hours, a duffel bag and a meeting of the heads (in this case, literally and figuratively).

This marked the debut of Winick on the caped crusader and it really was a new era for the book. One that started the long road to R.I.P. - where the hero would be defeated in a pretty profound way. But before we got there, the whole comic world got a shock. The Red Hood was really Jason Todd, the poor Robin that had been killed by the fans. Yup, the fans broke through the fourth wall calling into DC’s offices to have the poor kid erased from existence. Eventually, the Joker beat him to a pulp with a crow bar and blew him up.

Then came Batman 638, featuring that new thorn in Black Mask’s side visiting a familiar carnival (ask Barbara Gordon all about it, I’m sure she remembers it). He’s mumbling some nonsense about finding some guy. You turn the page and there is the Joker, himself, and the Hood starts to beat him with a crow bar and then the last page – Jason Todd’s face, domino mask and all, asking the Joker how it feels.

Batman begins to suspect he knows who the Red Hood is and goes on a search to find out how Jason could still be alive. He consults friends who were once dead, those who know of the occult, he inspects sealed Lazarus pits. He is short with those that work with him. He is obsessed. Probably rightfully so. Jason was his personal failure and he felt that he had never done proper diligence to his legacy. Sure, he’d hung the costume in the cave. But, was Jason back to haunt him?

Jason offered up all kinds of problems to our hero. He knew his fighting style. He knew Bruce’s assets and how to go about obtaining his own toys. He knew how the gadgets work. He is the kind of foe that could take Batman down. Even worse for the world’s greatest detective, there was no explanation for the return. No one could help him. Add to this a fear that Jason must have hated his mentor in the final moments of his first life, and Batman had reason to be concerned.

The foremost badass on the planet, scared and answerless. It’s not your normal modus operandi for a tale of the Dark Knight. But this was the tale that Judd Winick told with his first run at the marquee of the oldest superhero universe. At the end of what would be titled Under the Hood in trade, Batman sticks his chin up, defiant to the evidence and marches on with his crusade. Threads dangling…

Batman may have been occupied by what was mundane fights with Killer Croc and the rest of his rogues, but fandom - not so much. How was Jason back? What madness was this?

Along comes Infinite Crisis and Batman Annual 25. The Superboy punch. The anger of the boy who believed so hard that he became Superman caused a rift in the reality of the DC Universe. Not quite “its magic”, but not completely removed either. Science fiction hokum at its worst. Clever comic writing, debatably – suddenly things that didn’t make sense did. It’s all a world of four colors, what’s it matter anyhow?

We also find out about his year in a near catatonic state, his being found by Talia, taken under her wing, being cast out, flung into a Lazarus pit, finding of the Joker’s failure to be killed, his real role in the Hush mystery, and his donning of his killer’s original alias.

Now Winick gives us Lost Days. A nifty little recap of the part Talia played in Todd’s return. We see how she angered her father and then in a Winick mainstay flashback, we go back to his death, the rumors of his return, the young mindless warrior, the casting out and then finally the plunge into the pit.

Sound familiar? That’s because it is. This is a story we already know - expanded. Details tweaked.

Todd fascinates me and this issue is written well enough. It is high melodrama and short on any real action and as such it is an enjoyable read, a neat reminder of what we already know.

There are two saving graces I see here. One, Ra’s wants to know why Bruce isn’t investigating Todd’s appearance. So just how did Batman figure out is was Jason? Was the Red Hood right? Did he know the second his former partner started fighting Clayface in the graveyard or did al Ghul let the cowled vigilante in on it later?

The other thing is the failure to mention the reason for the resurrection. It feels like this is an important bit of information missing from the story here. Winick is not a bad storyteller so I don’t think he would overlook the punch just cause it is unpopular. He might be setting up a new explanation and if that is the case, history will finally be aligning itself and DCU Legacies might be the end all of the History of the DCU, only time (and a little luck will be needed) will tell.
Raimondi is a fine artist. He conveys the story well, even being deft enough to make Todd the Zombie book look stiff and firmly removed from those around him. Thick lines and dynamic coloring create some more tricks.

In the end this is far from being an essential Bat comic. What it is instead, is a nice enough recap expounded but inconsequential. Fortunately it is marked as a prologue and may have just been a catch up for those unfamiliar with the story. There is potential here, but potential is far from the most rewarding of merits.

Story 6
Art 6
Overall 6

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Review by MrBlack

I am torn on this comic. While it was interesting to see more of Talia's point-of-view in the telling of the tale, we have already read this exact same story in Batman Annual #25. I see no reason to waste an entire issue of a miniseries retelling a story that we have already heard. Talia's motivations for helping Jason were not worth the price of admission. That said, this is a good opening issue for the uninitiated. I am curious to see what, if any, role Talia will play in the remaining issues, given her central role in the opening of the story.

The art was very clean and well done, with good attention to detail. The coloring seemed a little to "digital" for lack of a better word, but I would not mind seeing this art team on some other books. Pablo Raimondi's pencils are certainly attractive.

I might check out issue #2 in the shop just to see if Judd Winick does anything interesting with the story, but this first issue was not worth it for me. If you have read Batman Annual #25, there is absolutely no reason to buy this. If you have not read it, this issue is a good starting point for learning the history of the Red Hood.

Story: 7 (3 if you have read Batman Annual #25)

Art: 7.5

Overall: 7 (5 if you have read Batman Annual #25)

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Review by Zero

A few years ago Jason Todd and Bucky returned from the dead. Since then Bucky has gone from strength to strength as Captain America and is a crucial part of the Marvel Universe. Jason Todd has popped up occasionally and his story is only now being fully told. Hmm.

This issue is mostly a story about Talia al-Ghul and her love for Batman. Her mothering of Jason seems quite at odds with what I've seen of Damien and while the tenderness fits the story it feels a bit odd for the character. Outside of this it's a well written book with a great emotional sting towards the end.

The art is as good as I've seen from Raimondi, capturing faces well in an issue lacking in big action. If the story continues with a similar pattern it will be well served, and Raimondi will find himself quite at home amongst the bat books. He's certainly more to my tastes than any of the artists on the main title since JH Williams.

A good start then, although I'm still irritated by Jason simply waking up one day and climbing out of his grave. Hopefully this will be addressed down the line.

7
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That gives Red Hood: The Lost Days #1 a group score of 6.86. Bizzarro scoring this week, I don't think we've ever had that narrow a range.

For what I'm sure is a very enlightening discussion, join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are invited to post your own review!
Comment or post your own review!
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Kerny has the pick for next week and he has selected S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 published by Marvel Comics. Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning.

0609-shield2_cover.jpgS.H.I.E.L.D. #2

WRITER: Jonathan Hickman
PENCILS: Dustin Weaver

Why don’t we know about the first super heroes of the Marvel Universe? Leonardo Da Vinci, Imhotep, Sir Issac Newton, Nostradamus and Galileo are among the members of the Brotherhood of the Shield and have saved us all countless times. What events did they set in motion that still affect the Marvel U today? Do not miss the book that will be talked about for the next ten years. Rated T …$2.99

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