It's been a long time since I've bemoaned the evils of decompression, but "Red Hood" is here to rectify that. First things first, I voted for Jason Todd to be killed. My mom footed the bill for me to call. Then Todd comes back as the Red Hood, which is less a Hood as opposed to a really bad motorcycle helmet. Todd then ran around through "Countdown" and caused problems in "Battle for the Cowl." Now this. I picked this up fully prepared to be disappointed.
Surprisingly, this is a really enjoyable story, but it seems to have at least five or more pages than necessary devoted to the conversation between Ra's al Ghul and his daughter Talia. Ra's makes his point more than once, and Talia bobs and weaves out of the way, causing Ra's' words to fall unheeded. Through it all, the Red Hood -- Jason Todd -- is mute and barely more than a plot device. Having used this entire issue to set up the divergence between father and daughter, Winick is now free to get about telling the tale of what really happened with Jason Todd.
Winick is blessed to be accompanied on this story by Pablo Raimondi on art. While this story could have easily disintegrated with a poor choice for artist, Raimondi's art is nearly perfect for this tale, bordering on phenomenal. He makes Ra's look weak when the time comes for Ra's to refresh himself in the Lazarus Pit, then throws rage into Ra's' eyes when Talia defies her father. Raimondi tells the tale with straight-forward page layouts, dropping in alterations throughout to great effect. Additionally, Raimondi's level of detail beyond the characters themselves is quite intense. Raimondi, in turn, is bolstered by the emotional colors Brian Reber applies to the story, from the fiery, hellish glow of the Lazarus Pit to the seething scarlet of Talia's helpless rage.
This book wasn't supposed to be this good. This book wasn't supposed to make me want to come back for more. Winick and Raimondi, however, had other plans for this book, and I'm glad they did.