As Scott Lobdell returns to Red Hood and the Outlaws in June, he promises the upcoming stories about Jason, Roy and Koriand'r, will "zig" when everyone expects them to "zag."
"We're going to continue to defy expectations in the coming months," Lobdell said. "Bob Harras recently texted me out of the blue with a suggestion about Starfire that was so startling that I laughed and thought, 'Hey, if I'm surprised, then I can only imagine how much fun the readers will have!'"
After his runs on Superman and Teen Titans end over the next couple months, Lobdell is coming back to Red Hood beginning with June's issue #32, working with current artist Rafa Sandoval.
But he said this isn't his only DC project, and fans of the writer (who he calls "LOL," short for "Lovers of Lobdell") can expect "more announcements."
Newsarama talked with Scott Lobdell about his return to Red Hood and the Outlaws and other topics, like hints about the story he's telling for Futures End.
Newsarama: Scott, what prompted the move back to Red Hood? Just couldn't stand being away from these characters anymore?
Scott Lobdell: It doesn't feel like a move back to me — it feels like I never left! The only reason I left at all was because DC felt I might be over extended with Superman and Teen Titans needing so much attention.
Now that Superman is in the capable hands of Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr., and Teen Titans is ending with issue #30, it means I have the time to return to my first love!"
Nrama: We might feel like we already know what your Red Hood is like, but will there be any changes in your approach now?
Lobdell: Part of the thing I always loved about Red Hood and the Outlaws was that from page one it defied expectations. It zigged when everyone was expecting it to zag.
Instead of Jason shooting up Crime Alley, we learned his post-Batman training was more subversive than we realized.
While a vocal minority of readers were more than happy to read another 30 years worth of Kori wailing over Dick Grayson, readers met a woman who was firmly in charge of her sexual agency.
And while Roy had been defined more than once by his moments of weakness through his addiction to alcohol, we met an Arsenal that had never fallen off the wagon, in part because of the world's most unexpected AA sponsor.
Similarly, we're going to continue to defy expectations in the coming months. Bob Harras recently texted me out of the blue with a suggestion about Starfire that was so startling that I laughed and thought "Hey, if I'm surprised then I can only imagine how much fun the readers will have!"
So yeah, whatever you think Red Hood and the Outlaws is going to be — take solace in knowing you're wrong.
Nrama: Since the day you first launched the title, how have the three main characters evolved? We saw Jason, in particular, go through so much during "Death of the Family," but they've also been through a lot since you left the title. How would you describe each of them now, compared to who they were when we first met them in the New 52?
- Kori: I think when we first met Kori the New 52 she was still comfortable in the "I'm not from around here" role. Everything about her new relationships with these two was brand new. As time has gone by and we realize what a brilliant military strategist Kori is, we realize that she's always five or six paces ahead of the two of them. So I think initially there was a lot of curiosity there on her part -- and now there is more caution: they are simply not as smart as she is and so she has to be gentle with both Jason and Roy.
- Roy: When we met Roy, he was more than happy playing Tonto to Jason's Lone Ranger -- he felt more comfortable being comic relief because, well, he's a fun guy and he prefers being happy to being glum or needy. But as time has gone on and his relationship with Kori has developed, he's had to accept the fact that the three of them are equals. Considering how badly things went the last time he tried to form an actual partnership with someone (Oliver Queen) you can appreciate what a challenge this has been for him, and how much Jason and Kori mean to him for Roy to be trying at all.
- Jason: Jason has kind of lacked for healthy relationships his entire life. From his drug peddling dad and his addict mom and letter his — let's be honest — myopic father figure Bruce... its not like he's had a lot of experience actually interacting with people who genuinely like him. I think that was what was most surprising to Jason when he first started bonding with Kori and Roy — that they accepted him warts and all, his sense of humor, his need for space that was always competing with a need for intimacy.
It is hard to have a genuine relationship with someone if you are spending all your time and energy on someone else. Jason has spent a lot of time since his resurrection focused on his relationship with Bruce. Now that that has been put to bed and they have come to terms with who they are to each other, I think we're going to see him getting even closer to his Outlaw buddies. He has more room in his heart now.
Nrama: In your last issue of Red Hood, you showed a reconciliation between Bruce and Jason. Does that open the door for the Outlaws to work more with the Bat-family?
Lobdell: I hope so, though keep in mind that while Bruce may forgive Jason, that doesn't mean the rest of the clan is racing to embrace him once again. We'll just have to see!
Nrama: Will the title tie into what's happened with Forever Evil, or what's coming in Batman Eternal or Futures End?
Lobdell: Hmmm. In a way, I kind of hope not. As much as I love playing in a bigger world whenever possible — painting on a larger canvas — Scott Snyder is always counseling me to stay out of other books and just focus on the title I'm writing at the time.
So my plan right now is to keep Red Hood and the Outlaws in its own 'verse. So we'll see!
That said, there is a really painfully super dark Future's End story I'm writing that focuses almost exclusively on Red Hood — and we'll see how much Kori and Roy have balanced him out when they aren't around any more.
Nrama: What about your first story arc on the Red Hood? The solicitation for #32 says the team is being pursued by S.H.A.D.E. What's the premise of that pursuit? Why are they in the organization's crosshairs?
Lobdell: Personally, I think S.H.A.D.E. is DC's "Most Undervalued Concept" right now! I just think there are so many super cool stories that can be told with this group! I love them! (And in case I don't mention it later, Jeff Lemire's original run was brilliant at fleshing out these amazing concepts. I remember meeting him in San Diego one year and telling him how envious I was about rubber ball sized floating headquarters created by Roy Palmer! I hate when someone comes up with an idea I'd never have thought of on my own!) Right now it looks like I have permission to bring in a famous winged bat character into the organization... and if I had my way this whole arc would function as a pilot for a new series called M_NB_T, AGENT OF S_A_E! (You can fill in the blanks!)
In story, during Wil Phiefer's stellar run, we're going to see Jason and Kori take liberties with some of S.H.A.D.E.'s resources, which has the unintended consequences of putting the Outlaws on their radar.
Nrama: Last time we talked, when you acknowledged that you were leaving Superman and Teen Titans, you said there was other DC work in your future. Is this the work you were speaking of? Or should we expect something else?
Lobdell: It was certainly part of it! But rest assured LOL (Lovers of Lobdell), there are more announcements coming!