Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 2: Who is Artemis?
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Dexter Soy, Kenneth Rocafort, Mirko Clark
Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 2 : Who is Artemis? collects issues #7-12 of the series and puts Artemis on center stage for a thrilling story about her past and ultimately her fate on the team. Red Hood and the Outlaws has surprisingly been one of the stronger series in DC’s Rebirth initiative, and this volume contains all the qualities that make this series great: character depth, a unique team dynamic, great art, and a whole lotta crazy action.
Now that the debacle with Black Mask has been settled, Red Hood and Artemis set their eyes on a new mission: securing The Bow of Ra. Before they set out, the volume opens with an issue focusing on Red Hood and Bizarro, and what consequences could come from keeping a being like Bizarro around. This turns into an introspective lesson for Jason, and an excellent way to show Bizarro is much, much more than a dumb brute. The next issue sets up the meat of this story, as Artemis reveals her past to Jason, telling him all about how her friend Akila became the Shim’tar (champion) of her people, but was corrupted by the mystical weapon called the Bow of Ra. Now, the bow is missing, and they need to track it down and secure it.
They find out the Bow is being used in Qurac, which is also where Jason was tortured and ultimately killed by the Joker. But just as they’re closing in on Qurac to investigate, they are hit with a missile and separated. Jason finds himself in the prison he was tortured in, Bizarro helps people who are trying to fleeing the war zone, and Artemis surprisingly finds herself with Akila. With the Outlaws separated and confused, they need to find a way to reconnect, stay on mission, and stop the Bow from hurting any more people.
While the premise of this story is somewhat simple, it’s the character depth that drives each issue. This whole series is much more than a bunch of misfits kicking butt together (although it certainly is that, too), it’s about how each character struggle to overcome their past in order to find friendship and family. The last volume was primarily about Jason, and this volume is primarily about Artemis, and Lobdell does such a great job at expanding Artemis as a character and giving reasons not only to sympathize with her, but to really root for her. I also really enjoyed how this story expanded the world of the Amazons with an in-depth look at the culture and traditions of Bana-Mighdall. And while Artemis really shines in this story, there’s plenty of progression with Red Hood and Bizarro. Jason has talked a lot about his death at the hand of the Joker, but here he’s forced to relive it and we see just how traumatized and scarred he really is. Meanwhile, we get to see the effect Red Hood and Artemis (or Red Him and Red Her) have had on Bizarro manifest in his desire to help people in need.
There are several different artists represented in this volume: issue #7 is done by Mirko Clark, issue #8 is done by Kenneth Rocafort, and the rest of the volume is done by series’ regular Dexter Soy. Clark and Rocafort do some great work, but Dexter Soy has made a huge impact on this book, and his work really stands out here. The combination of Scott Lobdell and Dexter Soy is part of what makes this book so great. The art and the words on page work together to tell the stories beneath the images, i.e., what the characters are experiencing mentally and emotionally.