It wasn't that long ago that my first major exposure to Jason Todd's Red Hood character was when I watched the animated movie Batman: Under the Red Hood for the first time. Until then, my only knowledge of the Red Hood came from The Killing Joke. I hadn't even read Death in the Family, the book in which The Joker kills Jason Todd.
So for someone like me that has never read any of the Red Hood comics, this DC Rebirth one shot is very helpful. Similar to the Nightwing Rebirth series, the story is narrated by Jason Todd, who takes us through a brief yet informative history of his life as a common street thug, to becoming Robin, to getting killed by The Joker and then finally resurrected via Lazarus Pit to become Red Hood, a vigilante that crosses the criminal line in a way that Batman never can.
It is this freedom that Jason has to cross this line that makes him a valuable crime fighter and you can tell Jason knows it in his tone. He will always be indebted to Batman and what he did for him, but similar to Dick Grayson he has gone on his own path and uses his perception as criminal muscle to get what he needs to take them down. In this issue, an attempt on the mayor's life by Red Hood catches the attention of someone who works for Black Mask and approaches Jason with the possibility of work.
Naturally this falls into Jason's plan as it turns out he didn't fatally shoot the major, but in fact injected him with a techno virus antidote to counteract the fact that the mayor had been "bio-hacked." Batman knows this, while the rest of Gotham City and its underworld are convinced that the Red Hood just tried to kill the mayor.
And therein lies the crux of this story arc: Jason has determined that Black Mask is planning something big and now has a way to infiltrate the operation as a criminal. Batman reluctantly agrees to let him do it, with the understanding that if he goes over the edge just once, it's over.
This is yet another really solid DC Rebirth one shot that does a fantastic job of setting the stage for newcomers and hitting the reset button of sorts on Red Hood's current story, while also getting you ready for the arc to come in the next issues. Just like Nightwing, Red Hood is a reflective narrative where Jason spends time talking to the audience about his past and reflecting on his experience as a crime fighter in hopes of helping him to become a better one on his own, but as where Dick Grayson struggles at times to stay out of the dark completely, Jason Todd struggles to stay in the light completely almost as an antithesis. In many ways Nightwing and Red Hood are very much "Sliding Robins," each story showing just what kind of path they could be set on based on what had happened to them.
Like most of the Rebirth books so far, I can't wait to find out.
5 out of 5 - DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH - Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1