“Red Hood and the Outlaws” #30 is a hideously convenient comic book from start to finish. Everything that happens in Wil Pfeifer’s story feels like a deus ex machina, from Arsenal’s escape to the absence of any true agents of S.H.A.D.E. when Red Hood and Starfire invade the Ant Farm and find themselves in conflict with Frankenstein.
While this comic book has repeatedly disappointed me, I was once more lured in by the promise of Frankenstein, one of the most consistently interesting characters since 2011’s reboot of the DC Universe. However, Frankenstein functions more as a speedbump or plot device than a true participant in the story — Pfeifer admits as much, having Frankenstein discuss his non-membership with S.H.A.D.E. as he fights for the organization in S.H.A.D.E.’s mobile headquarters. Pfeifer makes Frankenstein more flippant and vicious than the character has ever been, which fits the story, but not the history. Other matters of convenience are the time-delayed button on Arsenal’s attack that doesn’t work at first, but another push later, when the drama has piled on, and, surprise! It works! Except it doesn’t. “Red Hood and the Outlaws” #30 is uninspiring and as a result, the characters come out dull.
The dialogue of the issue gets in the way of the story, with Taylor Esposito forced to squeeze extreme amounts of into a ridiculous number of word balloons that frequently eclipse the artistic storytelling of R.B. Silva and Rafael Sandoval. While those two artists have distinct styles, the inking platoon of Paul Neary, Wayne Faucher and Jordi Tarragona, with the coloring duo of Matt Yackey and Hi-Fi manage to blend the artwork throughout the issue. There are some nice images in “Red Hood and the Outlaws” #30, but also some visual tragedies. More than once in his fight with Red Hood and Starfire, Frankenstein looks more like Buford from “Phineas and Ferb” than any of the many monstrous interpretations.
“Red Hood and the Outlaws” #30 is a disappointing comic from start to finish. Red Hood never really factors into this comic book as anything more deep than a cardboard cutout, but Silva and/or Sandoval give readers a “cool” visual or two. If you happen to be after this comic for the Frankenstein appearance, your three bucks will be much better spent elsewhere. Furthermore, there is an appearance by a different, even more popular (at least once upon a time) DC character on the final page, but again, convenience rules the day there and the reader is left holding twenty pages of shiftless plot device that wobbles more than wanders and just so happens to get Starfire, Red Hood and Arsenal from A to B. Convenience is something that worked quite heavily throughout the Silver Age comics and still works in comics today, but usually brings a modicum of fun with it. I’m not expecting Pfeifer to do more than entertain, especially with a title that has so consistently disappointed, but the random connections and appearances in this comic are little more than rummaging through a toy box and crafting adventures with various parts and pieces.
The mischaracterization of Frankenstein aside, there is no real depth to any of the “Red Hood and the Outlaws” cast, despite thirty issues of existence and no fewer than three different writers trying to layer in nuance after failed nuance. Quite frankly, I would not have purchased this comic if not for Frankenstein and, having read it, realize that even that rationale was terribly flawed.