Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Red Hood and the Outlaws #9 - Who is Artemis? Part One: Ghosts of the Damned

Story: Scott Lobdell
Art: Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini

Back In Qurac!
Previously, in “Who Is Artemis? Prologue”:  Jason Todd, the former Robin once killed by the Joker, has joined forces with the Amazon Artemis and the Superman clone Bizarro to form Red Hood & the Outlaws. After defeating Black Mask, our trio of anti-heroes are on the hunt for the Bow of Ra – a weapon from the Gods so powerful it can destroy an entire city.
“Who is Artemis: Ghosts of the Damned” begins with a morbid, yet intriguing, twist.  Their quest for the Bow of Ra have brought Red Hood and the Outlaws to the war-torn country of Qurac.  And they are not in just any ole part of the country – no, in fact, Jason Todd has found himself in the exact same place the Joker murdered him all those years ago.
Their mission isn’t one of self-healing, however, as Gotham villain and mob boss Black Mask sold the Bow of Ra on the black market to General Ahmed Heinle, the Supreme Leader of Qurac. The Outlaws have chosen an, um, unusual form of transportation into the Middle Eastern country: a completely broken down jet plane being lifted, and flown, through the air by Bizzaro.  It’s a sight so comical, yet works so well, that only this book could pull off a crazy stunt like that!
Being in hostile airspace, it wasn’t long before the Outlaws were under attack.  Bizzaro shrugs off a few missile attacks to the face … and even lets the pilots live, proving that that old dog CAN learn new tricks, but the unmistakable flash of an atomic blast fired from the Bow of Ra takes out our trio.
When Jason awakens, he finds himself encased in ice thanks to the quick thinking of Bizzaro.  Speaking of whom, is nowhere to be seen, and neither is Artemis.  Upon freeing himself from the protective ice, Red Hood finds his situation has gone from bad, to worse, to even more worse as he is staring down the barrel of several semi-automatic weapons.  They take him to some place even more sinister – the actual building where the Joker murdered him, and he even has a brief exchange with the ghost Robin of his past.

Bizzaro, unconscious but alive, finally awakens to a child poking a stick in his face.  He is surrounded by the refugees of Qurac who have mistaken him for Superman.  The refugees are desperate for help and look to Bizzaro for aid.  Bizzaro, on the other hand, is unsure what to do next, but he knows his friends Red Him and Red Her (Jason Todd and Artemis) will know what to do and agrees to let the refugees of Qurac come with him.
Artemis awakens bound in chains, upside down over a raging fire-pit.  She recognizes instantly where she is and who she is with: Akila – her childhood friend who was consumed by the power of the Bow of Ra!  We know through a flashback in the last issue that Artemis and Wonder Woman defeated the mad Akila, so how can this be?!  But nevertheless there she is, sitting right before Artemis’s eyes.  Her once-dead friend Akila now says to her, “Let’s not dwell on the past … Let’s save the world!”
Next: Bana-Mighdall Reborn!
Wow, what can I say?! Red Hood and the Outlaws was an awesome book from Day 1 and it has only gotten better.  It mixes dark humor and action to deliver a fun and entertaining story every time.  In this issue, my favorite part has to be Bizzaro flying the piece of crap plane Red Hood and Artemis are riding in into Qurac airspace.  And to be honest, I fully expected Akila to be alive and behind this at the end, but I was thrown for loop when she appears to ask Artemis to help her save the world from General Heinle!  Is Akila good?  Is she bad?  Is she … dead??  I can’t wait to see how Artemis and Jason Todd respond to Bizzaro leading band of war refugees.  Speaking of which, the most intense moments deal with Jason Todd realizing where he is and coming to terms with the trauma from his past by facing it head on!  The art and the story are top notch and capture a twisted humor not found many other places in the DC Comics Universe.

★★★★★★★★★✩   9/10

Noah O'Toole | NCR

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