Red Hood and the Outlaws

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The Outlaws are kept separate for most of Red Hood and the Outlaws #22 as the Red Hood continues to poke the Penguin and sets a second meeting with Faye Gunn, Artemis flashes back on the past and attempts to convince Lex Luthor to save her friend, and Bizarro continues to slowly lose his advanced intelligence and fall back into the dimwitted creature he once was.

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A large chunk of Red Hood and the Outlaws #21 centers on the ramifications of Artemis finding Bizarro‘s secret lab with synthetic Kryptonite. Forced into a corner, the Superman clone is forced to confess on his addiction to the substance Lex Luthor used to save his life and which Bizarro has become dependent on in order to keep his enhanced intellect and not regress back into the simple creature he once was. While the pair eventually come to and understanding, it looks like Bizarro’s lies to his friends isn’t over quite yet.

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Red Hood and the Outlaws #18 feels a bit like a transitionary issue that flounders a bit before teasing what is to come. The latest issue opens with the Outlaws taking down a segment of H.I.V.E. attempting to push its way into the Gotham City underworld. We also get a cameo appearance from the Creeper who apparently has some backstory tied to Artemis and who Bizarro offers a spot on the team without first discussing such a move with his teammates.

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Obviously taking place before the events of Red Hood and the Outlaws #13, Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #1 offers a standalone story guest-starring Nightwing. Since the Rebirth reboot DC hasn’t spent much time on the relationship between Dick Grayson and Jason Todd. There’s obviously some bad blood and animosity lurking under the surface, but it looks like the two former Robins have been able to put most of that behind them.

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Bizarro, and his connection to the other two Outlaws, is the focus of Red Hood and the Outlaws #13. With their friend dying, Red Hood and Artemis go to the one person who they believe might be able to save him, the Superman clone’s creator – Lex Luthor. Choosing to help, while threatening legal action for theft of his property, Luthor gets to work on Bizarro as Red Hood and Artemis become introspective about how the odd creature has brought them together. While the first group of Outlaws was thrown together, this group has bonded in large part thanks to a super-powered white-skinned moron.

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Red Hood and the Outlaws #11 wraps up the four-part Artemis arc with the Outlaws finding themselves on opposite sides of the the Qurac conflict. However, it doesn’t take much more of Akila‘s out-of-control behavior for Artemis to recognize her friend, dead or reborn, is long lost to her. The tragic end helps cement a bond between the former Amazon and Red Hood, although the issue’s final panel does suggest some serious fallout for the other member of the team. As for Artemis, she’s not got a new godly weapon (one that drove her oldest friend into a murdering psychopath) to look after. Yeah… that should end well. For fans.

[DC, $2.99]

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Red Hood and the Outlaws begins its second arc by shifting focus away from the Red Hood to Artemis. Red Hood and the Outlaws #8 offers a bit of backstory for the rogue Amazon including both in Themyscira and in the desert where her world would come crashing down and eventually put her on a path to meet the other Outlaws.

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Jason Todd isn’t know for making the hard choice when an easier path presents itself. At least he wasn’t before the recent Rebirth reboot. Now, things appear to be different. First, the reboot curbed most of his villainous murder history. No it focuses on the man actually thinking through hard decisions and responsibilities rather than shooting first and asking questions later.

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The series’ opening arc “Dark Trinity” comes to a close as Red Hood and Artemis work together to stop Black Mask and break his control over Bizarro. This new Rebirth version of Jason Todd continues to walk the edge of the anti-hero line without falling any further. By the end of the issue, even Batman is impressed with what he accomplished (even if it does take a major Bat-villain off the board for the foreseeable future). Jason keeps his work to the Dark Knight, although he has to rely on the questionable logic of Batman Begins to do so where choosing inaction apparently isn’t a choice.

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Continuing the comic’s opening arc, Red Hood and the Outlaws #5 mainly centers around the Red Hood fighting for his life against the Black Mask controlled Bizarro. Unwilling to let Jason fend for himself, Artemis returns to help even-up the odds allowing the Red Hood to distract the super-villain while Artemis attempts to control his super pawn (easier said than done).

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