REVIEW: Red Hood and the Outlaws #21 (Gotham Hold ‘Em)

While Red Hood goes undercover to take down The Penguin, Bizarro finally comes clean with Artemis.


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RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS VOL. 2 #21
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
Color Artists: Veronica Gandini
Cover Artist: Trevor Hairsine and Antonio Fabela / Variant: Guillem March
Publisher: DC Comics


What You’ll Need to Know:
Artemis discovers Bizarro’s hidden supply of liquid Kryptonite and asks her friend to explain himself.


What You’ll Find Out (SPOILERS):
Discovering vats filled with liquid Kryptonite hidden underneath Bizarro’s bedroom, Artemis is shocked and concerned at what is happening to her friend. Just then, Bizarro enters the hidden chamber carrying Artemis’ battle ax, which she left on the floor of his room above. Artemis tells Bizarro to drop the weapon and to explain what is happening. Bizarro mentally breaks down, sorrowfully crying to Artemis that he’s confused and doesn’t know what to do anymore. He asks for her help as he’s afraid to stop using the drug and revert back to his simple-minded self. Artemis stands by her friend, telling him that she’d do anything for him.

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Meanwhile, across town, Red Hood goes undercover on The Penguin’s floating casino The Iceberg Lounge in Gotham City Harbor. He makes quite a scene as a flamboyant southern persona named Mr. Spanky, who manages to win an obscene amount of money at one of the poker tables. Just before he is about to play a new round, a seductive woman taps him on the shoulder and asks if he’d like to go someplace private. “Mr. Spanky” agrees and cashes out his chips. Following the woman to a quiet room, he discovers The Penguin sitting on the bed waiting for them.

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The Penguin reveals that the woman is named Emory and that he’s blackmailing her to work for him as he has her father held captive for not paying his debts. He also reveals that he knows that Mr. Spanky is really the Red Hood in disguise. The mob boss accuses Red Hood of laundering money he stole from him in his own casino. He then threatens to kill Red Hood for being so bold. Just then the lights go out at the casino. Before The Penguin’s henchmen can capture him, Red Hood jumps out of a window and swims to safety.

Sitting atop their floating headquarters, Artemis and Bizarro continue discussing the why’s of Bizarro’s addiction. Bizarro admits to her that from the very beginning of Lex Luthor’s augmentation of him, his mind has been regressing back to his old self. When Artemis asks him if reverting to his old self is really a bad thing, Bizarro tells her that when he didn’t know any better, it was fine. Now that he has his superior intellect, the thought of going back to simple scares the living hell out of him. He admits to stealing the liquid Kryptonite during a past mission and asks Artemis if she would do the same in his situation. She tells him that it isn’t about her and that she can’t imagine what he is going through, but that being an addict isn’t making things better. When she sympathetically places her hand on his shoulder, Bizarro lets his guard down and goes in for a kiss.

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Shocked, Artemis stops him, telling him that kissing her would be a mistake they could never unmake. Bizarro apologizes, but Artemis stops him, telling him that they are fine. She then motions for him to follow her. Going back to his hidden chamber, Artemis tells Bizarro that he knows what he must do. Though it pains him, Bizarro smashes the vats, thus destroying his access to the Kryptonite.

At a local diner, Red Hood aka Jason Todd meets with Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth. Jason confides in Alfred that he doesn’t know if anything he’s doing is making a difference. He questions if his latest botched Penguin job is just a means of marching Penguin off of a cliff because he can, or if he himself is really just part of the problem after all. Alfred tells Jason that when he finds the answer to his question, to please share it with the rest of the Batman team. After Alfred leaves, a woman named Faye Gunn walks over to Jason and hands him a folder. She explains that Ma Gunn is her grandmother and that Ma instructed her that if she ever showed up missing, she was to make sure to give Jason the folder.

The next morning, while brushing his teeth, Bizarro’s imaginary friend Pup-Pup (who is a walking/talking stuffed Superman doll) tells him how proud he is that Bizarro finally managed to come clean about the Kryptonite with Artemis. Pup-Pup then slaps his head in angered annoyance when he sees Bizarro pull out an inhaler from the medicine cabinet filled with liquid Kryptonite.

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Over at Lex Corp., Artemis is dressed in a business suit. She tells Lex Luthor’s secretary that she wishes to see him. When Lex’s assistant asks what the meeting is about, Artemis says that it’s regarding unfinished business.


What Just Happened:
While Bizarro finally reveals his addictive secret to one of his teammates, he still continues to use his liquid Kryptonite drug in secret. Another of his secrets being that he has a miniaturized Ma Gunn held captive in a bottle on his nightstand. Will Red Hood, with his new folder of information, be able to find out exactly where she is and why? Tune in next time to find out. Same bat time, same bat channel.


Rating: 8 out of 10


Final Thought: There was a lot of heart and personal backstory in this issue. Not only were we able to explore Bizarro’s addictive mind, but also learn of his secret feelings for Artemis. It was also interesting to see Jason begin to question his overall mission, and if it is really doing any good. Kudos to Scott Lobdell for his continuing solid story writing, and to Dexter Soy for his beautiful pencils that make us enjoy the story being told.


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