Monday, December 31, 2012

Red Hood and the Outlaws #15

Just one more of these nearly identical covers left!

So far in The Death of the Family, The Joker has gotten Robin, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Red Hood to say that they're going to kill him. I don't think Nightwing said it but that's because he's really matured over the years and he's even been in Batman's underwear for awhile. So he knows better. But with all of the characters yelling "I'll kill you!" at The Joker, I'm starting to believe that was basically The Joker's plan. Make every member of the Bat Family think that The Joker knows who they are. Fuck with their lives so much that they want to kill him. Then gather them all together at a party in Arkham and watch how pissed off and hurt they get when The Batman takes The Joker's side and keeps them from killing him. Although I think it'll be okay if Alfred kills him.

At the end of last issue, Isabel was dying from a drug overdose which was probably The Joker's fault but I don't know her that well. She might be a big time drug user and it's just a coincidence that she's dying on the floor while The Joker taunts Jason Todd from the television and a bunch Gotham Police break into the apartment to arrest Jason Todd.

Jason Todd beats them all up.

According to Scott Lobdell's horrible Red Hoods #0, The Joker does know Jason Todd is The Red Hood.

If Jason Todd is going about being Jason Todd then The Joker absolutely knows Jason Todd is one of the Bat Family. And he could probably guess that he took up the name The Red Hood to connect with the psychopath that killed him. The Joker would know all of this because according to Scott Lobdell, The Joker created Jason Todd. He manipulated reality to such an extent that he was able to get Batman to take on Jason Todd as the new Robin. So fucking amazing! What that means for this comic book is that it's already the least interesting of the Death of the Family stories. The other stories kept it ambiguous as to whether or not The Joker actually knows their identities. But there's no ambiguity here! And if The Joker knows who Jason Todd is then maybe Jason Todd was the weak link that enabled The Joker to figure out everyone else's identity! And yet here that bastard is blaming Batman yet again.

Even if Scott Lobdell's crappy Joker back-up in the zero issue hadn't ruined the uncertainty, I don't think he could have handled telling a story that left the question up in the air.

While Nightwing suspected The Joker might know his secret identity, he still took the time to cover his tracks when changing identities or going about town as Dick Grayson. Here we see Jason Todd assuming his cover is blown, changing from Jason to Red Hood in a way that even Detective Bullock will figure it out, and then planning on driving straight to the fucking Batcave with The Joker in the backseat.

Jason Todd is lucky that The Joker gasses him in the next panel or he would have fucked up everything for everyone. Again. What an asshole.

Let's take a second to look at this scene from The Joker's point of view now. The Joker attacks Isabel in her apartment while the only connection she has is one date with Jason Todd (and most of that was off planet). Then he waits in the police car for Jason Todd who is now dressed as The Red Hood. So yeah. The Joker absolutely knows Jason Todd is The Red Hood. If it turns out differently, somebody smarter than me is going to have to explain how this isn't that.

Back on Starfire's mysterious island which is apparently "half a continent away" from Gotham City (fucking Lobdell. I guess the island is in Kansas), Roy and Starfire are flirting.

Oh! Starfire! Pay attention to me! Does this turn you on: "I once scrittled a varmuntiulious brittlebox by shaxxing the polygluttonfelsh to the ambulatory sconce flow which up-jacked the ratio of invisoshock permutations to flattermodule levels."

So back with Jason Todd and The Joker, I have to say the whole Death of the Family crossover is ruined. The Joker torments Jason Todd with a crowbar through his Red Hood mask (which he stole off of Starfire's island an issue or two ago). He mentions how he manipulated Jason Todd throughout his life although in a way that confuses Jason Todd because he didn't read the back-up story in Red Hood #0. And if The Joker knows all of this, he knows everything else as well. It's no longer a mystery. The Joker knows everything.

The only thing keeping me from actually believing my previous paragraph is that Scott Snyder is writing the actual Death of the Family story and Scott Lobdell writes Hardy Boys Graphic Novels. I haven't read them. Maybe they're amazing. Maybe that's where he's putting all of his effort because he certainly isn't trying in the pages of Teen Titans or Red Hood.

Case in point:

The fact that The Joker was able to smash a crowbar through Jason Todd's nearly unbreakable Red Hood isn't the point I'm casing.

So that paralytic toxin that immobilized you long enough to be taken from the police car to the warehouse until you came to and which continued to keep you from moving a finger meant next to nothing to you?

If Jason Todd had enough training for a paralytic toxin to mean next to nothing to him then he never would have been in a position where The Joker could have killed him using one. The Joker had plenty of time to kill him while Jason Todd couldn't "move so much as a finger." Or is it possible that Jason Todd couldn't fight the toxin until The Joker told him that it was a toxin? And then Jason Todd did some mumbo jumbo meditative breathing technique which instantly cleared it from his system?

I'm just fucking sick of Scott Lobdell's reality changing from panel to panel for his story telling needs. I get it that the toxin doesn't work on Jason due to his training. But then don't have Jason realize he's paralyzed and wonder what it is! Have The Joker mention the paralyzing toxin and Jason pretending to suffer from it until he has a chance to strike, you stupid asshole.

Leaving my hatred for this tripe behind and beginning a new chapter of love for this respectable writer and his wonderful creation, Bullock makes a call from Isabel's phone. He calls the last number dialed assuming it belongs to the guy in the towel that kicked his officers' asses. He tells him he believes he was set up by someone and wants to help. Luckily Roy Harper set up a bug in Jason's phone and overhears the message, so he and Starfire are off to Gotham to help battle The Joker.

After The Joker knocks out Jason Todd with an electric crowbar and has put the Red Hood mask back on him, Scott Lobdell decides to backtrack and begin the ambiguous part of the story.

So The Joker calls him "boy" and "son" and this convinces him that maybe The Joker doesn't know who he is after all! Forget all of the evidence to the contrary like how he found him in Isabel's apartment while he was simply going by Jason Todd!

It's a good thing I decided to believe in this comic book when I did because now I can pretend that all of that other stuff didn't happen. You know? Like how The Joker captured Jason Todd in a way that could only mean that he was capturing Jason Todd and not The Red Hood? Now that Jason Todd doubts The Joker, I can too! Everything is right with the Death of the Family crossover once again!

But then The Joker proves that he does know who The Red Hood is because I forgot how The Joker manipulated Jason Todd's entirely life! How could I be so dumb? The Joker leaves a bullet for Red Hood to find as evidence that The Joker knows exactly who he is.

I'm not a doctor but I'm pretty sure the ass is a little bit lower.

The Joker continues to remind Jason Todd of major moments in his life, showing him scenes from his life and leaving meaningful objects for Jason Todd to find. And then Jason Todd finally understands the stupidity of this whole story.

Yeah, I can't believe it either, buddy! It's so ridiculous, right?!

And then The Joker opens up a pit trap and Red Hood falls into a room with an unconscious Red Robin. Above ground, Starfire and Roy Harper arrive in town just in time to save The Teen Titans from a bunch of Joker Thugs. And then this enjoyable tale will be picked up in Teen Titans.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #15 Rating: -3 Ranking. If The Joker ends up not actually knowing any of the Bat Family's identities (besides Jason Todd's, of course), then he really doesn't care and hasn't been trying. He obviously knows Red Hood's identity and always knew the 2nd Robin's identity, so he would have to be willfully ignorant or a complete moron to not have figured out the rest of them. It's possible that if you're really delusional and really fucking high and you really want to believe that The Joker still doesn't know who Jason Todd is, you can probably read this issue in a way that keeps the whole thing ambiguous. If you do, send me your essay and I'll point out to you every place you've made an error in logic and a biased assumption.

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