Beware: spoilers for RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 abound! 

Following a team-up with the Suicide Squad and the conclusion of the “Bizarro Reborn” story arc, the Outlaws are ready to take on a new mission in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18! In the latest issue from writer Scott Lobdell and penciller Sergio Sandoval, the series features a shift in its focus. Bizarro is the work’s central player as we witness his regression to his former state of being. So, how does RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 fare? Find out, right here!

red hood and the outlaws #18
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 page 16. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

A Fear of Old Ways

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 begins with a confrontation between the H.I.V.E. Queen and Red Hood. This introduction to the issue is perhaps the most entertaining sequence of the work. H.I.V.E. Queen makes some serious threats against Gotham City, but Red Hood assures her that said threats will never actually come to fruition. However, right before Red Hood prepares to take her down, Bizarro swoops in to save the day.

Soon after this sequence, the narrative segues into Artemis confronting Jack Ryder (aka Creeper), a character who made his DC Comics debut in 1968. It’s implied that the two have a tumultuous history, which places Bizarro in an even more awkward position. Why? Well, Bizarro had extended an invitation to Creeper to join the Outlaws. However, Bizarro didn’t consult his fellow Outlaws, Red Hood and Artemis.

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Additionally, even after Bizarro reveals his intentions with Creeper, he doesn’t fully disclose his reasons for inviting the monstrous individual. RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 features various sequences in which Bizarro seems to be reverting to his old mindset. His vocabulary is simplifying, and he’s even seeing visions of Pup Pup, his Superman toy. So, he’s ultimately seeking a replacement for himself on the team.

With this, the issue sets the course for Bizarro’s fate. However, it fails to provide enough development, in both the characters and narrative, to truly establish an engaging story. Also, the pacing is rather slow. So, it’s hard to get into the story when nothing truly stands out.

So, overall, though the issue presents potential for future installments, it struggles to stand alone.

red hood and the outlaws #18
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 page 20. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18

Many of Sandoval’s illustrations in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 excel in their detail. My favorite sequence is the one in the above page. Bizarro submerges himself in a solution that he created in order to help him retain his mental faculties. I love the symmetry of that sequence as well as the shadows throughout. They provide an ominous tone for the page. The balance of green hues, provided by colorist Michael Atiyeh, brings a beautiful juxtaposition to the dark tone.

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Overall though, the issue’s imagery feels one-dimensional. There seems to be an inconsistency in tone within the art and narrative itself. Some sequences feature an increased vibrancy that contradicts the ambiguity of the issue. With this, characters tend to get lost in the shadows. I’m all for dark tones in a piece. I especially approve when said tones are appropriate to the narrative of the work. However, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18, unfortunately, maintains an imbalance in these areas.

What Lies Beyond

A new arc has begun in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18. Bizarro’s fate seems to be sealed. However, one can never be so sure. This issue is certainly an introductory one that’s setting up new mysteries and challenges for the Outlaws. The question now remains, will they be able to see what’s coming?

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 by Scott Lobdell, Sergio Sandoval, Juan Albarran, Michael Atiyeh, & Taylor Esposito
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Though the issue moves Bizarro's storyline a little bit further, it doesn't provide enough intrigue or overall development to be an engaging issue.
69 %
A Slow Work
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