Book Review – Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2: Who Is Artemis

  • Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2: Who Is Artemis?
  • Author: Scott Lobdell
  • Artist: Dexter Soy, Mirko Colak, Tom Derenick, Kenneth Rocafort, Veronica Gandini, Dan Brown, Taylor Esposito
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Red Hood (Jason Todd), Artemis (of the Amazons), Bizarro (Superman’s clone)
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/23/2017

**Spoiler Alert** I enjoyed volume 2 of Red Hood and the Outlaws just as much as I enjoyed volume 1, and I also read volume 2 twice. Jason Todd, Bizarro, and Artemis are turning out to be a great team, if not exactly conventional – although that is part of the charm. Volume 2 starts off with Red Hood (Jason Todd) challenging a group of mobsters and drug lords. He basically tells them to leave Gotham now or else. The mobsters of course do not listen. Bizarro joins the fight and when Killer Croc arrives to help the villains, he destroys Killer Croc. However, this croc is a fake, a robot. The gangsters are angry that they didn’t get the “merchandise” they paid for – but Jason is concerned about Bizarro’s actions and violence. However, when Jason asks specifically if Bizarro knew Croc was not alive – Bizarro states he knew.

Returning home to their hideout, Jason talks to Artemis who has discovered more information about Bizarro. The Superman clones from Cadmus have all been extremely violent, and Lex Luthor had ordered their destruction. Bizarro escapes. Next, Jason and Bizarro are on a hill in the country overlooking Gotham. Bizarro talks of his memories and then states that he knows they aren’t real. However, he also wants to make new memories with “Red Him” (Red Hood) and “Red Her” (Artemis). Jason considers shooting Bizarro, but changes his mind.

Artemis and Jason look for information to help her find the Bow of Ra. This leads them to Qurac. Both Jason and Artemis must confront their pasts as well as learning to trust and rely on each other and Bizarro. Jason is quickly captured by soldiers. He’s taken to the exact place where he died as a teenager (see A Death in the Family). Jason not only must confront his memories of what happened and his feelings and anger at the Joker for causing his death, but he hallucinates his own wounded body and has to confront the spirit. Jason is able to conquer his fears, his memories, and his triggers.

Jason then realizes from conversations with the local dictator that it isn’t the dictator who has the Bow of Ra. The dictator of Qurac had it at one point, and in trying to use it, Artemis’s once friend, Akila (the Shim’tar) was brought back from the dead (something Jason has unique experience with) and the experience left her, well, less than sane (something else that Jason has experience with). But Jason also learns the dictator no longer has the deadly weapon. And if he no longer has it, there is only one other person who could – and who was incidentally responsible for the slaughter in the country of Qurac.

Meanwhile, Artemis seeks out her friend. She is welcomed back with open arms to the company of Amazons. Slowly she begins to suspects something is wrong, but she accepts Akila’s tale that the dictator is responsible for everything.

Meanwhile, Bizarro locates a band of refugees and attempts to aid them. Bizarro gives the impression of a simple but gentle giant – like the “monster” in some versions of Frankenstein (essentially the “monster” isn’t monstrous – it’s the people around him and by their reactions that become monsters). The people treat Bizarro well when he tries to help, but when their trek ends at the base of a mountain, one man explodes in anger.

The final conflict is between the soldiers of Qurac, the Amazons-in-exile, Artemis, Jason, and Akila. Jason quickly convinces Artemis that the dictator doesn’t have the Bow of Ra. Artemis realizes only Akila could have it. She confronts Akila who admits attacking the citizenry of Qurac with it, because she wishes her people to be free. There is a battle. Bizarro knocks his way through the mountain and joins in. Artemis realizes she is also Shim’tar – a position both women had battled and trained for. She picks up the Bow and fires an arrow at Akila. The power of the bow does not harm Artemis but flows through her. It hits Akila full force, who is overwhelmed and about to explode with considerable power (not to mention damage). Bizarro flies her straight up, where she explodes out of harms way of any innocents. Bizarro falls to Earth and appears dead.

Again, Red Hood and the Outlaws is an impressive book. The characters are deep and complex. Although all three may be termed “anti-heroes”, none would violate their own personal code for personal gain or to harm others. Even when confronting gangsters, Jason, surprisingly finds a less terminal way to get them out of Gotham. Jason would be appalled if Bizarro were to use extreme force. Artemis is in many ways the same – she can be extremely violent, especially if the Bow of Ra becomes a permanent part of her kit. Yet, she also has a code. And it may be her code that led to her friend to be chosen by the gods to hold the Bow. Yet it now appears Artemis was chosen instead – or she is certainly chosen now. Bizarro is, well, he’s the gentle giant – he wants to help and is slowly learning his own strength and how to limit that. Jason now knows he can trust Bizarro within limits. However, at the end of the current volume, Bizarro is dead. That most certainly won’t last, because: comics. Red Hood and the Outlaws is a surprisingly well-written, intense book with complex, driven characters. I do feel it needs to expand a bit and additional team members brought on board, but overall I am very impressed and will continue to buy the series in graphic novel format.

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