“Red Hood/Arsenal” #1 is a shoot-’em-up buddy movie that takes two-thirds of the Outlaws and gives them a new start with their familiar writer, Scott Lobdell. Denis Medri joins Lobdell, bringing a clean style filled with lanky figures and big skies. The story itself stretches to fill the big sky, but ultimately isn’t big enough.
Lobdell pushes Arsenal forward in “Red Hood/Arsenal” #1, giving the weapons master the majority of the issue to thwart a lopsided hostage exchange. Of course, the event is deeper than that, but only barely, as Lobdell fills the panels with Arsenal sharing his thoughts with the reader and running his mouth at his adversaries. Lobdell seems to be putting forth extra effort to mold Arsenal into DC’s Deadpool, but the snappy one-liners and barrage of weaponry aren’t enough to transform the character into a headliner.
The events of “Red Hood/Arsenal” #1 drive a change in status beyond the paring down of the “team” from three to two. Their foes are generic and unimpressive, but numerous enough to pose a threat throughout the issue. They give Arsenal a bar to measure up to, and Lobdell showcases Roy’s adeptness with arrows.
Medri’s art is strong enough to carry the story, and storytelling is his strong suit. The cast is tight enough to give him a chance to visually define everyone, which colorist Tanya Horie helps with. Lanky and distinct, Medri’s characters travel through the panels until they collide with each other, frequently with impacts that letterer Dave Sharpe addresses with sticker-like sound effects like, “BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!,” “FWING!” and “THOP!” Sharpe uses bright, contrasting colors to pop the effects off of the backgrounds, amping up the sticker effect of the sounds. Horie and Mesri blend together frequently throughout the issue, with the big sky graciously accepting any color, pattern or texture Horie crafts.
Ultimately, the twenty-page story in “Red Hood/Arsenal” #1 is less impressive and less memorable than the eight-page free preview DC gave to readers last month. The generic foe of this adventure doesn’t bring much gravity to the comic, which finds a tidy conclusion; likewise, the situation itself doesn’t pack as much drama as Lobdell and Mesri fit into the eight-pager, which promised a significant menace with far-reaching effects. “Red Hood/Arsenal” #1 feels like less of a start to an ongoing series and more of a sample. If the creative team returns to the tale they started in the preview, “Red Hood/Arsenal” will definitely be worth checking out again. Until that point, this title is going to have to work a little harder to keep readers locked in from issue to issue.