Artemis’ past with Lex Luthor is revealed as Red Hood reigns in The Penguin and Bizarro succumbs to his fate.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS VOL. 2 #22
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy and Alisson Borges
Color Artists: Veronica Gandini
Cover Artist: Trevor Hairsine and Antonio Fabela / Variant: Guillem March
Publisher: DC Comics
What You’ll Need to Know:
As a means of deterring The Penguin and his criminal agenda, Red Hood has taken to annoying him by stealing a good portion of his ill-gotten money. Just before The Penguin could stop him from escaping, Red Hood slips through his fingers, leaving the fowl mobster in a frenzied state.
Red Hood was also contacted by a relative of Ma Gunn’s, providing him with the information that Ma is in trouble and needs his help. He tells her he’ll think about it.
After discovering that Bizarro has been taking large doses of liquid Kryptonite to maintain his newly acquired genius intellect, Artemis has Bizarro destroy the existing vats in the hopes that her friend’s addiction to the green drug would be erased. Worried about Bizarro’s state of mind, Artemis then goes to Lex Luthor to see if he would be willing to help resolve Bizarro’s unique predicament.
What You’ll Find Out (SPOILERS):
Red Hood goes to the Gotham City boardwalk area going under a recent gentrification renewal, known as The Ice Patch. Unbeknownst to the city’s citizens, it’s really a cover for one of The Penguin’s many money laundering schemes. Though it’s only the break of dawn, Red Hood comes up against some resistance, which he easily is able to dissipate. The Penguin then appears and forcefully tells him that he’s trespassing. That’s when Red Hood tells him that he is only there to provide The Penguin with a cut of the money he stole from him earlier, insinuating that The Penguin is now an employee of Red Hood.
The Penguin laughs off the insinuation, telling Red Hood that he won’t be able to escape him this time. Unfortunately for The Penguin, by the time he’s done laughing, Red Hood manages to disappear from his clutches for a second time.
We then see a flashback to one of Artemis’ memories from years before joining The Outlaws. She is at Hierve El Agua, dragging a man from an island prison, through the water surrounding it, and onto the shore in the dead of night. From this vantage point, we see that the prison is on fire with great plumes of smoke emanating from it. The man has pale white skin, much like Bizarro, but is much smaller in size. He also has sensors on his temples. He pleads with her not to kill him. He tells her that he has a son and only agreed to the prison’s illegal experiments so that his time served would be cut in half. Artemis shows him no sympathy and kills him with a sword, telling herself that she was once compassionate and forgiving when she was still an Amazon, but not now that she’s an assassin for hire.
We then see that after she’s completed her assignment, she approaches Lex Luthor who is surveying the prison’s destruction. It’s insinuated that he paid Artemis to destroy the prison and everyone in it. She reveals that the attack was to send a message to Lex Luthor’s enemies to not abuse his proprietary technology. When she asks him why she is paid such a high salary when he could hire an army for the same price, Lex reveals that he enjoys owning an Amazon as his own personal property.
Bizarro is then seen dressed in a suit and tie, similar to an outfit Clark Kent would wear as a reporter. He goes throughout the city, taking in the sights and enjoying his freedom. He buys a hot dog from a vendor and helps an elderly man walk across the street. All the while, he is mentally lamenting over the feeling that his mind is reverting back to his simple-minded self. He tells himself that he will miss living the life he has, but will try his best to keep his promise to Artemis to not give in to his liquid Kryptonite addiction again. Just then he completely forgets where he is and why he’s there.
Back at the 50s diner, Red Hood again meets with Ma Gunn’s granddaughter Faye Gunn, but as his normal civilian persona Jason Todd. She explains that she knows Ma Gunn isn’t a saint but that she grew-up completely outside of her criminal dealings. She reiterates that she’s only there because her grandmother made her promise that if anything ever happened to her, that she gives Jason Todd a special envelope. Their meeting is interrupted by a phone call from Bizarro, which Jason takes. In the next booth over, we see the three-headed man from before, asking “Who could that be?”
Across town, Artemis is given the notice that Lex Luthor will see her now. As she walks out of the lobby area, we see the three-headed man telling her to “knock ’em dead, girl”.
In his office, Artemis tells Lex that Bizarro has stolen future made synthetic Kryptonite as a means of retaining his mentality. When Artemis tells him that he must do something to help Bizarro, Lex says no, that he already gave him life twice and that his obligation to Bizarro is over. Artemis tries to appeal to Lex’s softer side, saying that he must have feelings for Bizarro, otherwise he wouldn’t have given him back to Red Hood and Artemis. Lex laughs at her, telling Artemis that the only reason why he let Bizarro continue to be a member of The Outlaws was as a means of studying him in an uncontrolled environment, like a lab rat.
Lex then reveals several of Bizarro’s moments with The Outlaws displayed on various projected screens all around the office, showing Artemis that he’s been watching every action they’ve made all along. Before leaving his office, she tells him that he’s just lying to himself about his true feelings for Bizarro.
Next, we see Bizarro sitting by himself in a park at night. Jason appears and Bizarro says he’s happy he came. Jason tells him that he’ll always be there for him. Bizarro then admits to Jason that he called him because he forgot how to get home. He even forgot the word “home”. His word phrasing then reverts back to his old way of using “Me” instead of “I”. He apologizes to Jason for not being the person they want him to be. Jason tells him that he’s always been the person they want him to be. Bizarro then tells Jason that he’s scared. Jason tells him that things will be alright, but Bizarro doesn’t believe him.
What Just Happened:
Bizarro has begun reverting back to his simple self, but both Red Hood and Artemis are standing by their friend no matter what outcome Bizarro settles into.
Artemis’ past as an employee of Lex Luthor is revealed, but how that past plays into her present existence with The Outlaws is still unclear. Also unclear is exactly what Bizarro means to Luthor personally, and if there are still any further plans in place for Bizarro in Lex’s schemes.
The three-headed man also comes back this issue, and it’s strongly implied that he is still coordinating every action that The Outlaws make.
Final Thought: I really loved this issue. Artist Dexter Soy really gave a lot of eye-catching panels right out the gate, depicting Red Hood in a number of really cool areal positions hand tailored for any big budget Hollywood action film. Then, he showed his flexibility by showing us just as beautiful panels at the end of the issue, but in a soft/somber setting. I loved both areas just as much. His fluid but versatile art just really makes me more of a fan of his every issue I read. Bravo.
Another geeky bit I really loved makes me appreciate where writer Scott Lobdell is going with this book. His attention to detail that had my fanboy mind reeling has to do with Artemis and Lex Luthor’s past as employer and employee. What many comic book readers may know is that for years, Lex Luthor has been shown to have a female assistant/bodyguard named Mercy. Mercy was rumored to have been an Amazon, but that fact wasn’t officially confirmed until just before the 52 event occurred. Some readers, though, might not be aware that Lex not only had one Amazon on the payroll but two. The second Amazon, who worked side-by-side with Mercy, as a woman named Grace. As I was reading this issue, it completely dawned on me that Lobdell gave a slight nod to this pre-52 cannon by having Artemis’ new last name be ‘Grace’. Thus, Lex’s fascination with Amazons continues up through today.
One speculation I have as to the origins of the three-headed man and his motivations was revealed in this issue. Per Lex Luthor’s instruction, Artemis was sent to kill various persons who’ve voluntarily went under scientific experiments. Could it be that the three-headed man was one such volunteer? Could his manipulation of The Outlaws really be his means of exacting revenge against Artemis and Lex Luthor? Only time will tell…
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