The Outlaws are trapped in Belle Reve with only one way out.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #16
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
Cover Artist: Mike McKone and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Publisher: DC Comics
What You Need To Know:
Once-dead sidekick to Batman, Jason Todd, has returned to battle evil under the guise of Red Hood. Unlike most caped heroes, with Batman’s approval, Red Hood acts as a criminal outlaw in order to infiltrate Gotham City’s criminal underbelly. Together with the rogue Amazon Artemis and the genetic Superman clone Bizarro, the trio works together to defeat evil and form a makeshift family of misunderstood heroes.
Through some calculated behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Bizarro was able to have the Red Hood team tussle with the “other” Gotham City do-gooders, Batman Inc., and lose. Defeated, our heroes are prepped for transport to see “her”.
What You’ll Find Out:
Awakening from their fight with Batman Inc., Red Hood, Artemis and Bizarro find themselves prisoners at Belle Reve Penitentiary in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. While Red Hood is being interrogated by Captain Boomerang and several hired thugs, Artemis finds herself in a similar situation with none other than Harley Quinn.
When Captain Boomerang begins inspecting Red Hood’s uniform, he accidentally triggers a massive taser to become active. It incapacitates several of the people in the room and disorients the others. Red Hood takes advantage of the situation by taking out the still standing guards. The prison alarms erupt as Red Hood races through the building, searching for his companions.
Annoyed by the nonsensical questioning by Harley Quinn, Artemis is relieved when Harley finally gives up on the verbal inquisition and moves on to physical interrogation. When the crazed female clown pulls out her over-sized mallet, Artemis calls for her battle ax and a fight ensues. It doesn’t last long and Artemis is able to join Red Hood in his search of the building. They eventually find Bizarro in sickbay. They are surprised to discover him in the middle of having a polite conversation with Task Force X Director Amanda Waller over tea and finger sandwiches.
Upset that Bizarro could be so friendly and be accommodating to such a corrupt woman, Red Hood and Artemis demand an explanation. He tells them that over the course of his conversation with Waller, Bizarro was able to convince her to not inject the nanotechnology bomb into his head as it may interfere with his newfound genius I.Q. Admitting that there are not enough high intellect agents on her squad, Waller submits to his request in exchange for his aid.
While at Belle Reve, Bizarro becomes aware of subatomic earth tremors, not previously noticed by the Belle Reve staff. As an act of good faith, Bizarro tells Waller of his discovery. Together they uncover four underground installations build into the Earth’s crust containing very advanced technology. Also learned, these installations were created by an evil time traveler named Harvest and his organization N.O.W.H.E.R.E. It was their mission to capture meta-humans and brain-wash them into servitude. One of the four installations, or colonies, has become unstable though, which is causing the tremors. Should it remain unchecked, it will eventually explode and threatens to destroy the Earth’s crust.
In order to not have Red Hood and Artemis be implanted with Suicide Squad mind bombs, Bizarro offers the Outlaw’s services to Amanda Waller to help stabilize the colony before it goes supernova. Agreeing, Waller tells them that they are to assist her team to shut down the compound. When they have a moment to themselves, Red Hood shares his concerns about aiding Waller with Bizarro and Artemis. He explains that the mission has nothing to do with keeping Gotham City safe. Bizarro eloquently argues that by helping Waller as free agents, it will keep the Outlaws from becoming formally convicted prisoners in Belle Reve and will enable them to later return to their work in Gotham. The coaxing works, causing Red Hood and Artemis to submit to Bizarro’s arrangement, albeit grudgingly. Together with Task Force X, the Outlaws then teleport to the Arctic to begin their mission.
What Just Happened?
Though Artemis has kept a skeptical but accepting attitude about Bizarro’s recent personality changes, Red Hood’s prior rosy outlook is now starting to go dim. He’s beginning to question more of Bizarro’s actions and motivations, leading to what may be a rocky road ahead for the team. Whereas Artemis is an established world traveler and accustomed to gallivanting around the globe, Red Hood is out of his element as he’s now not only removed of his beloved Gotham City but helping a team of known terrorists lead by one of the most dangerous and calculating women on the planet.
They are also going into a situation where they might run into mind-controlled meta-humans. Stopping them and stabilizing the colony before it explodes is going to keep both the Outlaws and the Suicide Squad’s hands pretty busy.
Final Thought: There are two points in the comic that makes me think there are some major changes coming. The first is a little piece of conversation between Bizarro and Waller. Just before the Outlaws and Task Force X head to the Arctic, Bizarro thanks Amanda for giving them the opportunity to act as free agents and not actual mind bombed Suicide Squad members. Waller’s response? “Is that what you think this is about?” Yikes. You just know she has something terrible in mind and I’m a little afraid of what that may be for the team.
The second thing is how dark Bizarro has been getting over the past few issues. He’s all smiles and accommodation, but the things he’s put into play are leading the Outlaws to a very strange and dangerous place. I feel his once sweet and simple persona has made Red Hood and Artemis endeared to him in a parent-like way. Now that Lex Luthor has altered his mind, I’m starting to wonder exactly how much of the old Bizarro is still there and how much is pure Luthor. Having the heroes battle Batman Inc. and now joining the Suicide Squad seems very methodically planned by Bizarro. What things end up like for their future once everything is out in the open, as a fan, makes me eager to learn more. That said, I’m still a bit worried that what that new dynamic will be will change the chemistry between the team members, and things may not be the same.
P.S. This bit of Artemis trash talking about how easy it was for her to defeat Harley made my geeky lil heart jump for joy.
P.P.S. Why does Task Force X have two names? Either call them Task Force X or call them Suicide Squad. Having two names just makes things confusing IMO.