Pros: Fun, summer blockbuster-type action and adventure return to the series. Each member of the Outlaws gets their moment in the spotlight.
Cons: The storyline isn’t as complex and detailed as some past stories.
Overall: Action, adventure, and fun reign supreme in this excellent return to form for this series. The lovable scoundrel aspect of the Outlaws is on full display as they launch into missions of questionable morality in order to serve the greater good. Though the plot isn’t as complex as the past few volumes, it is actually a nice change of pace that many will find refreshing. If you enjoyed Red Hood and the Outlaws’ early days, then you are going to get a kick out of this book.
While the past two volumes of this series have been lackluster, Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 5: The Big Picture finally turns the series around and brings it back up to the quality found in the first two volumes. New writer Will Pfeifer brings the Outlaws back to their roots, doing a little bad in order to accomplish a lot of good. This makes for an action packed and fast paced adventure featuring our heroes at their finest.
(spoilers start here)
The first issue in this collection wraps up the story from the previous collection. This storyline was trending upwards in quality as that collection came to a close, and this finale does not change that. It is an action packed, albeit predictable, finish to a long story arc. It wraps things up nicely and also sets Essence up for potential storylines in the future, something I would personal enjoy seeing.
The next issue sees the Outlaws trying to grab some vacation time, only to be interrupted by the head of some shady criminal organization. The biggest flaw about this part of the story is that it tries to set up Isabel (last seen in Vol. 3: Death of the Family (Review)) and Jason’s relationship as some sort of great tragedy. With only a couple dates under their belt, it hardly has the impact Tynion IV was going for. However, it does set up the fact that Jason is unable to have a “normal” relationship, something which could turn out to be interesting in the future.
From this point on, the storyline improves dramatically. Will Pfeifer starts a plotline that has Roy kidnapped by intergalactic thieves while Kori and Jason try to save him. This leads to a fun adventure that shows off exactly how smart Roy can be while also giving him one of his best stories in the series. It also is just the type of straightforward, blockbuster style action that this series needed, especially after how complicated and drawn out the last story arc was.
After this arc concludes, Joe Keating tells two stories designed to show off the personalities of Roy and Starfire. Both issues do a great job at getting to the core of the character they feature, while also giving them a bit of character development as well. Plus they have an underlying plot thread connecting them which has the potential to develop into another great story in the future.
In addition to the improvements to the plot, the characterization of the main cast is also done much better in Will Pfeifer and Joe Keating’s issues. The angst ridden drama that filled the last story arc is replaced by a wholesome sense of comradery. These are friends hanging out and doing what they can to help the world, and these writers know how to show that. Overall, the team aspect of this book is truly felt here, which is a very good thing.
(spoilers end here)
The large majority of this collection features art by Rafa Sandoval. In terms of overall quality his artwork does not look bad, however it does not look particularly good either. It mostly ends up being generically average, disallowing it from standing out in one way or the other.
The problem with this book comes when looking at the collection as a whole. While half of the collection is drawn by Rafa Sandoval, the other half is drawn by a host of other artists. This wouldn’t have been too bad if the artists had drawn somewhat consistently. Instead, each issue is radically different from the last one, leaving the book with a very choppy feeling when it comes to art.
This volume flows directly out of the events of Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 4: League of Assassins (Review). The story then continues in Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 6: Lost and Found (Review).
This volume also references the stories from other comic books, all of which are detailed below:
- A flash of images appears around Essence near the beginning of this book. These images are mostly displayed in order to show her effect in the world of magic, as they do not have any real effect on the storyline of this series.
- One shows John Constantine, the lead character in the series Constantine. This series starts in Constantine Vol. 1: The Spark and the Flame.
- Another shows the god Apollo, who began to appear in the Wonder Woman series starting in Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood (Review).
- The third shows “The Oracle,” who is briefly described in the Superman: H’el on Earth (Review) storyline.
- Another shows Trigon, who started appearing in the Teen Titans series starting in Teen Titans Vol. 3: Death of the Family.
- The last is Madame Xanadu, who makes her first appearance in Justice League Dark Vol. 1: In the Dark.
- The condition of the Blackhawks’ former base is due to events at the end of Blackhawks Vol. 1: The Great Leap Forward.
- Frankenstein’s current role is explained in Frankenstein Agent of Shade Vol. 2: Secrets of the Dead.