REVIEW: Red Hood/Arsenal #1

It’s another spin-off from Red Hood and the Outlaws. Starfire #1 was pretty good, so how did her two former male teammates wind up?

red-hood-arsenal

Red Hood/Arsenal #1 brings Red Hood and Arsenal back together again for a new adventure. I really like the dynamic between the two characters, as being friends who constantly one-up each other. In the new DC paradigm, the two have even more in common with them both being the wayward sidekick.

Anyway, the new series has the two of them being reunited at a hostage exchange. There is a lot of action, a few nice fight scenes rendered by Denis Medri along the way. By the end of the issue, the two decide to start working again and we have the new series.

Scott Lobdell writes the characters well, and I think that Arsenal is going to get pushed a bit more to the upfront. Now if he’d only lose that silly hat!

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Red Hood and the Outlaws #36

red-hood-and-the-outlaws-36

I’ll admit, I don’t remember what has happened in the last few issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws. I’m getting old; what can I say. The issue starts out with Red Hood having just taken out a whole buildings worth of thugs and his narration is about him taking the Venom (the same super-steroid that Bane gets his powers from) and just kicking ass. As he exits everything is on fire and he finds Arsenal’s quill.

Arsenal is getting dropped off at a hospital by Starfire. He’s severley burnt over most of his body but she’s not sticking around. A barely conscious Arsenal gets visited by both Red Hood and Green Arrow in their civilian gear. They have some awkward conversation about what has happened and Roy is barely coherent. Before they wind up getting into fisticuffs in the hospital, the mystical warrior Essence that Red Hood has known for a long time shows up to tell them that Roy will fully recover. Red Hood leaves to find Starfire, and Green Arrow and Arsenal have strained conversation, since they are former best friends and all.

As this goes on, Starfire goes to Poland to take some alien drugs. So I guess she’s the junkie and not Roy in this reality.

Future’s End: Red Hood and the Outlaws

8c_372191_0_DarkDaysThe whole concept of this series has really connected with me, with Red Hood, Starfire and Arsenal doing their own version of super heroics around the New 52 universe.

The story pretty much deals with what happens to the group in the friends, and basically none of them wind up being friends anymore. Starfire goes back to her home planet of Tamaran to take the throne, rightfully. That seems to be at the root of the break up of the group, as both Arsenal and Red Hood were at one point romantically involved with her. It’s just like Nikki Sixx used to say; chicks equal trouble.

Since then, Arsenal has attempted to become a higher profile super hero. At one point he was a member of the Justice League and took Green Arrow’s spot. I assume Green Arrow died, since his Future’s End special had a headstone on the cover. That didn’t work out to well and he’s back on his own.

Red Hood has wound up becoming a lethal vigilante ala the Punisher. This has put the two at odds with each other; they are no longer on speaking term. The rest of the issue has Red Hood plotting the deserved murder of Global Broadcasting head Morgan Edge, who has been involved in some highly evil organized crime.

Scott Lobdell does a great job with these characters and it’s a compelling story. I like how it’s all contained in a single issue. Great stuff all around and that’s why this series is currently my favorite monthly published by DC.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #31

ImageThis is a series that I’ve been picking up every now and then. To be honest, I’m not up to date with the book, but the fact that it has the lead characters fighting with Lobo gave issue #31 the potential to be awesome in at least my mind.

We’re joined in progress on some alien space station and Lobo is standing victorious. He has defeated the Outlaws and is ready to unleash some sort of over the topic, only-in-comics type of weapon that will turn the planet earth into a black hole.

Why?

Lobo goes on a rant about how destroying the planet would be great for his business, especially since there is some sort of Rann/Thangar war brewing. Luckily for everyone on the planet, Arsenal brings his A-game, breaks Lobo’s war machine and sends him to the other side of the galaxy. It’s back home for the Outlaws.

Who cares what is up with them, but the ending teases the long-awaited bad-ass Lobo versus the New 52 Lobo. Hot damn.

New York Comic Con 2011 Sketch Book: Green Arrow and Speedy by Art Baltazar

Green Arrow and Speedy by Art Baltazar

How awesome is Green Arrow and his sidekick Speedy? This sketch was from Art Baltazar of Tiny Titans and Patrick the Wolf Boy fame.

I love how Green Arrow just looks like his usual tall, regal awesome self. Speedy looks really happy to be with his mentor, with that optimistic look that we all had when we were younger. This shows a happier time in his life, before he had problems that were caused by drugs or cats.

Check out Art’s other projects here.

Review: Justice League Rise and Fall

I’ll admit that I skipped Justice League: Cry for Justice due to all the negativity it generated on the Internet. I did read Justice League: Rise and Fall its sequel which deals with its aftermath. Mostly the Green Arrow family is drastically effected; their home of Star City has been destroyed by Prometheus, who not only managed to chop off Arsenal’s arm but killed his daughter Lian through his destruction of the city. In retaliation, Green Arrow killed Prometheus. Collecting issues from Green Arrow and Rise of Arsenal, this collected version deal with how Green Arrow and Arsenal cope with what’s happened.

Justice League: Rise and Fall

The theme of Green Arrow’s story is vengeance for what has happened to his city and his extended family. Unfortunately, there are consequences.

The Justice League is after him once they realized that Prometheus was murdered. Black Canary, his ongoing love interest, has shunned him since he is more interested in trying to kill Electrocutioner–a small time villain who Prometheus used to destroy Star City–than help survivors.

His son Connor is disgusted by his conduct, and Arsenal–who is like a son to him–is mad since he feels he should have been the one to kill Prometheus. To make things worse, even the city he loves is mad at him; the citizens blame him for making Star City a target and some enemies in its government want to make an example of him for taking the law into his own hands and killing a criminal.

Green Arrow is on the run and has an epiphany when he prevents his sidekick Speedy from killing Electrocutioner. Green Arrow doesn’t want her to make the same wrong choices he did, and he turns himself and the Executioner in to the authorities. Ultimately, Green Arrow is acquitted of his murder charges by a jury due to his life long dedication to Star City. His freedom is conditional–he has been banned from ever setting foot inside city limits.

Writer J.T. Krul does a really good job in getting Green Arrow’s point of view across. Green Arrow knowingly did something wrong because he honestly felt it was the right thing to do. Not only that, but he was willing to accept the consequences of his actions and didn’t want Speedy to follow his mistakes.

The second half of the book deals with Arsenal’s descent into self-destructiveness. The scene when he wakes up in the hospital only to learn that he has lost not only his arm but his daughter Lian is really heartbreaking.

Through flashbacks we learn how much Arsenal loved his daughter, which adds to how much his life has fallen apart. He’s mad at the Justice League for not being able to save his daughter. He’s mad at Green Arrow, since he felt that he should have ultimately been the one to kill Prometheus and avenge Lian’s death. He’s angry at Speedy, since she was supposed to have protected Lian. And even though the Justice League has made him a robotic prosthetic arm, its pretty much worthless.

Simply put, Arsenal is a mess. He does not cope. And ultimately, Arsenal turns back to heroin, which he famously did back in the 1970s, for a way to escape.

Arsenal and Cheshire have...um...intimacy problems.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, he is confronted by Cheshire, Lian’s mother. The two wind up arguing over the loss of their child, and get into a physical fight.

This only leads to the two getting really passionate, and a failed attempt at intimacy.

 Arsenal gets humiliated yet again, suffering from performance anxiety, as showed in the picture to your left.

This is getting really uncomfortable to read.

Yes...that is a dead cat in his hands.

So Arsenal gets crazier and his downward spiral only gets worse with his drug abuse. How bad do things get? He thinks he’s talking with Lian and has to protect her from some thugs. Unfortunately for him–and the reader– when Batman (his former best friend Dick Grayson) gets his attention, we learn that he was hallucinating. Lian’s dead–he’s been holding and talking to a dead cat, and he just beat the snot out of a bunch of innocent homeless people. Dick is trying to get his friend to seek help, but he doesn’t care. Arsenal is quite content with the fact that his life has been ruined and is using it as an excuse to personally go off the deep end.

The final scene of the book is at the Star City prison, while Green Arrow is locked up. Arsenal has broken in to kill the Electrocutioner. The warden asks Green Arrow to help them stop Arsenal, and he agrees. After some brawling, Green Arrow pleads with Arsenal to not kill Electrocutioner, as it doesn’t fix anything.

Arsenal kills the villain. End book.

When you compare the two stories, Arsenal’s descent into madness is extremely uncomfortable. I guess that was the point of the story, and it certainly succeeded. When he was speaking to the deceased body of his daughter, I wanted to cry. The section with Cheshire was downright uncomfortable, and the bit with the cat made me want to vomit.

Kudos to Krul for putting together such a frightening tale of self-destruction. He won a PRISM Award for the portrayal of Arsenal’s drug abuse and mental illness. That’s actually a good thing, because if you can take away anything from this book its the importance of mental health.