Reviewer: Christopher Blieka
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Denis Medri
Color Art: Tanya Horie
Letters: Dave Sharpie
Cover: Howard Porter and Hi-Fi
Variant Cover: Paul Kaminski
Red Hood/Arsenal is about bows, guns and gadgets. ‘Nuff said. You got bad guys, good guys, and the morally ambiguous government types the good guys mercenary for to round things out. Oh, and they kill people. Over-the-top action, buddy-cop banter, superheroes; not a lot to think about… except maybe why they put Red Hood’s name above Arsenal’s in the title when Arsenal is clearly the main character of this issue (Red Hood was actually barely in this one). Maybe they’ll take turns, swapping who narrates from issue to issue? Whatever. You don’t care. And neither do we. What we do care about is kicking a man in the face while simultaneously shooting an arrow through another man’s skull. And by God there’s plenty of that.
The story is barebones. American senator arranges a meeting with some terrorist types to swap money for a captured CIA agent. The meeting was of course a set up, which is why Arsenal was there (Red Hood was hiding out somewhere as well, but… that would be telling). Long story short, they beat the bad guys and save the Americans (hooray!). One of the government folks hands them a business card saying “I could use some boys like you” or some variant thereof, and so began our “heroes’” career as government contractors; taking on the jobs that nobody else can handle. While none of this is wildly original, it is certainly efficient; quick and to the point, with enough characters elements thrown in to give our two leads something to bounce their one-liners off of. Most importantly it leaves space for the action. Lots and lots of action, from fisticuffs to gunplay to technical wizardry that would make an esteemed British secret agent blush. This issue is mostly setup for what it to come, but that doesn’t bog down the pacing or the light-hearted vibe. It’s violent, it’s irreverent, it’s what you’d expect – but still fun.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with our protagonists, Arsenal is a discount Green Arrow (which makes sense seeing as he was formerly known as Speedy – Green Arrow’s sidekick), and Red Hood is the Robin nobody liked so they killed him, and later brought him back as a villain and then an anti-hero. Red Hood looks like he graduated from the Foot Clan. He’s got on military trousers, Shredder-esque boots and gauntlets and a solid-metal helm-mask – which would be totally legit if it weren’t for the red, sleeveless hoodie he had on. Similarly, Arsenal’s costume (black spandex with red boots, gauntlets and chest plate – plus a few flourishes like knees and elbows shaped like fletching and a utility belt buckle shaped like an arrow head) would be fairly intimidating if he weren’t also wearing a baseball cap. But rather than being distracting faux pas, these decisions are part of an overall art scheme that says “Relax. We’re not taking this serious and neither should you. Just have fun.” It’s bright and colorful and the crimson reds really pop off the page. If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining read, then this may be the series for you.
Review 4 (out of 7) – It is what it is. Take it or leave it.