The latest sighting of Superman was in Red Hood and the Outlaws #14. Now I will admit that I picked up Red Hood #1 and thought the treatment of Starfire was so terrible, that I haven't been back. So I have no idea what has been happening in this book up to now. This isn't a full review as the back half drifts into a romantic tryst by Jason Todd with a Death in the Family twist. Instead, I'll concentrate on the Superman pieces.
Scott Lobdell is the writer here and in Superman so he might be trying to spread his vision of the Man of Steel. It also ties into the Superman Annual #1 from the summer, a book which I thought was a bit muddled. At least the scenes there haven't been forgotten.
Mostly though, the issue again portrays Superman as someone that other heroes seem to distrust. Lobdell continues to show us that others think Superman is lording over 'mere humanity' rather than being a hero, an inspiration, and despite his powers, down to Earth. It isn't the take on Superman that I have. And I think it isn't how most Superman fans want him to be portrayed. But it's here, like it or not.
The prior arc must have taken place on Tamaran because Kory is commanding the ship. Her first mate's name ... K'TTen. Yeesh. Along for the ride are the other outlaws Red Hood and Arsenal. And, a flight attendant Jason picked up also is there.
Approaching Earth, the ship is confronted by Superman who wants to speak to Kory.
As is typical, and maybe because they are Outlaws, the team wants nothing to do with Superman. Jason comes right out and says he simply doesn't trust Superman. Interesting that a character like him can talk about trusting anyone.
One thing I did like was that Lobdell notes that Batman does trust Superman.At least the Trinity seems like a unit.
The best course of action for the Outlaws is to teleport themselves to their island hideout, figuring even Superman couldn't follow them that way. But, he is Superman after all. Shortly after they arrive, he is there.
Does any image or page better encapsulate how Lobdell views Superman? He is descending from the clouds, the point of view is looking up at him, he is completely calm with arms outstretched ... it screams angelic or 'above us'. And then to add some grist for the mill, there are 2 pistols aimed right at him, all while Jason says sarcastically that Superman is 'real human'.
Now don't get me wrong, I love Morrison's Superman and he certainly has portrayed Superman as deific at time. But he also has Superman on the ground, helping people, inspiring people. Even in All-Star Superman, the most god-like ending of a Superman story, the scene many people talk about is Superman hugging the girl who is about to commit suicide. It is inspiring ... but personal and close ... not impersonal and distant.
And to add another layer of distrust, we learn that Tamaran and Krypton had strained planetary relationships. So Kory is going to keep Superman at a distance because of the politics of a planet which no longer exists and which Superman never stepped foot on.
Yep, everybody seems to have a reason to not like Superman.
Despite recognizing that they are outgunned, the Outlaws decide to attack Superman. Because that's what people do in the DCnU, distrust and attack Superman. Notice he never seems to move, floating above them all, almost impersonal in how he attacks them. And even the 'I don't want to hurt you but I will' just doesn't sound right coming from Superman.
It takes the words of Isabel, the non-powered flight attendant to point out it is absurd. That Superman could have forewarned the Outlaws so they wouldn't feel attacked. And they could always just ask Superman what he wants.
It turns out that Superman just wants to talk to Starfire about her episode with an agent of Helspont, seen in flashback, a panel lifted from the Annual. I guess Superman just wants to touch base with the other extra-terrestrials contacted. That would mean J'Onn should also be expecting a visit.
But it is an odd scene. Starfire admits she hasn't thought about it much. Arsenal derides Superman, telling him he should just ask the Outlaws for help. Even Kory says he 'needs' their help. And Superman again seems cold, saying he wants to bring them all in for their crimes. But since Batman vouches for them, he won't. It just seems odd.
After saying his piece, Superman leaves. Kory is surprised she didn't hate him. So again, someone assumes they will hate Superman and is surprised when he is an okay guy. Arsenal wants to go out and find Helspont and stop him! This feels like Bizarro world.
One thing I did like was Jason's surprise that Batman has vouched for the group. I am surprised too!
The remainder of the issue takes place in Jason's apartment as some drama with Isabel and the Joker ensues.
So this felt like another brick in the wall of Superman deconstruction from ultimate hero to distant mistrusted jerk. I want to blow up that wall!
Furthermore, who knows when or where this Helspont story will play out. In the Superman book? Here in Outlaws? Universe-wide crossover? It doesn't look to be happening any time soon.
The art by Pascal Alixe is decent enough, a sort of rough Eddy Barrows.
At the very least, the issue showed me Starfire isn't a brain-dead anymore!
Overall grade: C