Review: Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 7- Last Call

Quick Summary

Pros: The relationship between the Outlaws is nice to see, especially at the series’ conclusion. Crux returns in a nice way.

Cons: Nearly every story here is hollow and pointless. Characters are written in ways that do not make sense. The ending to the main arc is rushed, forced, and contrived.

Overall: This is simply not a good book. The ending to the series is well done but besides that, there is not much that redeems the negatives of this book. Storylines are so pointless, rushed, and chaotic that it seems like this entire arc went through major revisions halfway through. If you absolutely have to see how the Red Hood series ends then read this, otherwise feel free to stay far away.

Story

Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 7: Last Call is a messy and rushed ending to what has been a very mixed bag of a series. Storylines and characters are constantly introduced and immediately discarded, thus preventing readers from connecting with anything emotionally. Though there are small aspects of the book which remain fun, overall, this is not a story worth reading.

(spoilers start here)

The book starts out with two, mostly separate, storylines. The first involves Starfire seemingly using drugs to dull the pain from a resurgence of past emotions. Based on her character development in this series, her doing this simply does not make sense. She has always been portrayed as a strong character capable of overcoming anything; she should be able to easily overcome the reappearance of one of her many captors. So I was somewhat happy when it was revealed that her drug habit was a ruse allowing her to infiltrate a slavery ring.

Yet, once again, this does not make sense either. The first time she is shown “using” she is by herself, so no one would be around for her to fool. The revelation behind her plan also comes unnaturally quickly in a random piece of dialogue, rather than being a plot point of its own. It seems to me, that the “Starfire has a drug problem” storyline was the original story but this was changed at the last minute. Either way this plotline was doomed, but shuffling it up like this instead of just picking a path and sticking to it actually ends up making this an even worse read.

Alongside the Starfire plotline, Jason and Roy are having their own adventures. Jason comes into contact with some Venom and almost gets addicted to it, while Roy has a “touching” moment where he is finally able to get over his feud with Oliver Queen. The problem with both of these stories is that there is no substance. They are introduced and resolved almost immediately after. We don’t see them struggle at all, so the solution ends up feeling hollow and pointless.

The only good part about Jason and Roy’s storyline was its inclusion of Crux. Crux was caged away in Vol. 1: REDemption (Review), yet returns as a changed man here. The explanation for his change from villain to hero makes sense and becomes a success story in the world of criminal insanity. It becomes one of the few instances in comic history to show Arkham Asylum as a competent hospital.

Finally the book comes to its conclusion. The last issue of this book is so rushed and so hurried along that any emotional impact is instantly lost. It introduces the main villain, has Starfire’s sister Blackfire do a completely expected double cross, and defeats all of the bad guys within a few pages. What was set up as an epic battle utterly failed in delivering. Even the “death” of Blackfire meant nothing as readers find out that she is still alive a few pages later. I don’t know if this ending was the product of sloppy writing or of things being rushed along from editorial, but something is definitely wrong with the conclusion to this book in a way that is sure to disappoint.

In addition to the negatives about the book’s choice in plot, one aspect that drags down the quality of the entire work is how cluttered with characters it ends up being. Helspont, Blackfire, and Rose Wilson are all thrown into this story for increasingly vague and non-explained reasons. Their motivations are paper thin to the point where most of them don’t even need to be in the story. It confuses things more and make the story even harder to follow.

Despite the book’s bad ending, I will give Lobdell some credit for having the Outlaws leave this series as friends. Usually super hero teams part ways in animosity when their series are canceled. Lobdell does not fall victim to this stereotype and leaves the series with every member on good terms with the others.

(spoilers end here)

Art

Unfortunately, the artwork in this collection is mostly the same as the artwork in the last collection. This is a big negative as the tone of the art does not match the tone of the story at all. For more details on what we mean by this, check the “Art” section of our review of last volume.

Continuity

This volume flows directly out of the events of Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 6: Lost and Found (Review). Though this series ends with this volume, Jason and Roy’s story continues in Red Hood/Arsenal Vol. 1: Open for Business and Starfire’s story continues in Starfire Vol. 1: Welcome Home.

This volume also references a story from another comic book, detailed below:

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