The story of Jason Todd is quickly becoming as oft used as the killing of Bruce Wayne's parents. It's a seminal touchstone in Batman lore that writers seem to gravitate to.
It makes sense actually when you think about it. Jason Todd's story chock full of history, violence, sorrow, and potential. No wonder it's become so popular.
That said, when DC announced a new Red Hood and The Outlaws series, I imagine there were a few several thousand eye rolls occurring all at once. The same goes for when the creative team was announced, as again writer Scott Lobdell would be at the helm, who's last run on the book had its detractors, especially in regards to his portrayal of Starfire.
"Sometimes you just have to give people a chance, Jason. They'll usually surprise you."
Rebirth doesn't write away the previous history, but it's a fresh start. To make the most of that new beginning all Lobdell has to do is make you care about Jason Todd. All the other stuff is trimming, and all of that can be fixed or changed. It ultimately comes down to is Jason Todd worth a reader's time, and in his first issue of the new Rebirth era, he succeeds.
The book starts with yet another glimpse at when Todd and Bruce first met, but this one is different. Lobdell's Batman, and the Batman on display in Rebirth books thus far to a degree, forgoes the recluse and agitated traits we've seen in previous versions of the character and instead lets readers see more of Bruce's compassion and humanity. He's still by no means a softie, but here he isn't just a teacher or a mentor, but rather more of a parent.
"He was the closest thing I've had to a...Doesn't matter. I was still me. I should've known it wouldn't last."
It's endearing, and it lets you see just why these people risk their lives for this man day in and day out. Even with all the regret and animosity Jason has built up over the years in regards to Bruce, there is still a substantial bond between the two, and Lobdell does a wonderful job of revealing several layers of that in this issue.
Praise is also warranted for the job that Dexter Soy and Veronica Gandini have done on the art side of the equation. Their Batman is imposing, with a cape that is almost a separate entity. That layout on page 7 is a sight to behold, but I do hope we see more of that in future issues, as that is really the only non-standard panel layout of the entire issue.
"Am I the man Bruce wanted me to become? Not even close. But someday soon he'll realize...I'm exactly who he needs."
Lobdell is building something new with this Red Hood, and I'm glad to see it isn't the same tired revenge storyline we've seen time and again.
There is a solid foundation here, and whether the book succeeds will hinge upon whether Lobdell can continue to develop the complicated relationship between Jason and Bruce while maintaining the humorous action adventure vibe that the book has had in the past.
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars
Written By: Scott Lobdell
Art By: Dexter Soy0comments
Colored By: Veronica Gandini
Lettered By: Taylor Esposito