As DC's "Rebirth" event continues to refocus and revamp some of DC's best known characters, the company's new direction for Jason Todd puts him at the center of a new "Dark Trinity."
With Jason in the role of Batman, Bizarro in the role of Superman, and Artemis in the role of Wonder Woman, the new "Rebirth" Red Hood and the Outlaws title not only puts a new twist on DC's more famous "Trinity," but it also gives DC the opportunity to streamline Jason's origin and revamp Bizarro away from his former not-so-smart portrayal.
DC kicks off the new Red Hood and the Outlaws title by Scott Lobdell and artist Dexter Soy with a Rebirth issue this week that re-introduces Jason Todd. Then the series launches next month with a formal #1 issue that establishes the new "Dark Trinity" version of the Outlaws.
And although the book brings back the "New 52" creative team to Red Hood, Lobdell has worked with Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns to bring together what he calls "what worked pre-'New 52' and some of what worked in 'New 52'" for a new take he hopes pleases established and new readers alike.
Newsarama talked to Lobdell to find out more about the new Red Hood and the Outlaws and what readers can expect from the writer's "Dark Trinity."
Newsarama: Scott, you certainly know Jason Todd well and have experience writing him. But what's different about your approach to Jason Todd and his title now that "Rebirth" is starting?
Scott Lobdell: I wouldn't say anything is "different" per se, other than the way that we change as people move in and out of our lives. Whether it is the departure of an ex-girlfriend who has moved on, or the passing of a parent, or just moving across the country and getting a new job: As your situation changes, you are presented with new challenges and new opportunities.
That's what's been happening with Jason for the last five years (of publishing, not comic book time). He went from a pretty angry loner, estranged from his family, to making some pretty intense friendships with Roy and Kori. We've even seen some of the wrinkles in his relationship with Bruce ironed out during both the original Red Hood and the Outlaws and Red Hood/Arsenal. (And please note I said "some" and not "all" — sometimes I feel Bruce and Jason will always have a "one step forward, two steps to the side" relationship.)
So while we are streamlining his origin a little in ReBirth — taking what worked pre-"New 52" and some of what worked in "New 52" — I am confident that readers and fans who've been enjoying Jason's adventures over the last five years are going to feel this is all "of a piece," even as new fans are going to feel they are getting in on the ground floor.
Nrama: This week is the publication of the Rebirth issue, which proceeds August's new Red Hood and the Outlaws #1. How does the Rebirth issue kind of set things up?
Lobdell: Rebirth is a strong start to a new series... and as you read it you'll start to notice just how much is secretly crammed into Rebirth in terms of building the world. There is almost not a panel that doesn't get used somewhere down the line. (Lots of Easter eggs are going to be bringing readers back to the Rebirth issue again and again over the next few months!)
That said, the issue focuses 100% on Red Hood and 0% on the Outlaws. I kept trying to put stuff in there, but to be honest, there was just so much to cover with Jason that I was being neglectful of Artemis and Bizarro by trying to cram them in there.
So instead, we concentrated exclusively on Jason for the Rebirth issue.
Nrama: So how would you describe the "Outlaws" team at this point? Is this starting before they become a new "trinity" of sorts, or at least before they begin to really catch fire as a team?
Lobdell: While I think the team is on a simmer for the few issues, by the time they are all together the book will be on a full boil.
Right now they feel less like a team and more like three very dysfunctional people who find themselves flung together and trying to make the most of their situation.
Are they aware that Red Hood is not Batman, and Artemis is not Wonder Woman and Bizarro is definitely not Superman? Absolutely. But while these may be defining characteristics from the readers and fans POV, the three leads aren't going to be spending a lot of real estate comparing themselves to their, I don't know, roll models?
Nrama: So does this team stay a trinity for a while?
Lobdell: There are no plans to add to this new "Dark Trinity" concept, lest I have to start calling them the 'Dark Quartet' or the 'Dark Eight is Enough.'
As far as his teaming up with Artemis and Bizarro goes, I can tell you it is a pretty linear story — we bring everyone into the story and give them a little room to breathe before we create even a casual "team."
Nrama: What's it like when Jason has to work with these two?
Lobdell: I think he's still a little off-balanced in terms of making new friends. (If you noticed, Jason hasn't been one to collect very many friends over the years. I think he only knows very few people from his days before his role as Robin and not much more since he became the Red Hood.) He is slow to warm.
But he will! Artemis is someone he is going to respect almost immediately - recall he was trained as a warrior later in life. She's been taught to kick ass from day one.
Bizarro is a never-ending source of fascination for Jason. The guy is just so... bizarre. For someone as analytical and tactical as Jason, the sheer uniqueness of Bizarro leaves Jason always wondering what Bizarro is going to do or think next.
And anyone expecting "dumb Bizarro" is going to be disappointed. This is a Bizarro who isn't "stupid" — he is a Bizarro who thinks... bizarre. You will love him!
Nrama: What can you tell us about the art? You're working again with Dexter Soy?
Lobdell: I was so thrilled with the opportunity to work with Dexter on Red Hood/Arsenal, I was thrilled when Alex suggested we keep him on board for Red Hood and the Outlaws. And you know what is strange? Dexter just keeps get even more exciting with every page.
He laughed at me after he turned in the page where Red Hood assaults a speeding limousine. You'll know it when you see it. And I wrote him a note about how happy I was that I could depend on him to draw anything no matter how impossible. He joked around "Wha -- ?! Why is it your goal to have me draw the impossible?!"
Nrama; Anything else you want to tell fans about Red Hood and the Outlaws?
Lobdell: Just that I am the luckiest guy in comics. Three fine-tunings in five years and DC keeps letting me work with one of their most complicated characters. What an honor. Thank you, DC, and thank all the Hoodies who keep showing up to follow the epic that is Red Hood and company.