Readers of Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth #1 were introduced to a little bit different Jason Todd, and as DC's reintroduction of their characters continues this week, the character will also pick up a couple of new Outlaws, including a brand new version of Bizarro.
This Bizarro might sound like the familiar, traditional Bizarro, but he's got a lot more insight in his head, according to series writer Scott Lobdell, who's returning to the concept for its "Rebirth" relaunch.
Working with artist Dexter Soy, Lobdell is teaming Jason with both the Amazonian warrior Artemis and the new Bizarro to create what he calls a "Dark Trinity," playing off DC's better known "Trinity" or Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Newsarama talked to Lobdell about the new version of Bizarro, how he's approaching the "Dark Trinity," and what readers can expect from the relaunch of Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Newsarama: Scott, we got a bit of a revamp of Jason Todd in the Rebirth issue. Or maybe revamp is too strong — tweaking? And are you continuing to tweak going forward?
Scott Lobdell: Yeah, tweaking is a good word. I think going forward, I'd call it "filling out." Some people read the first one and didn't like that Bruce would take Jason out to eat and then make him Robin. And I thought, come on, that's not what happened — there are more scenes in there. It was one issue to show his background, so we hit the highlights.
But when you see Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, you'll see that we're building things out more. You'll see some of the things that came in between. What we'll see throughout the series is a fleshing out of not only Jason's backstory, but also Artemis and Bizarro — in ways that will not be flashbacks for flashbacks' sake, but like Batman said in the beginning about touchstones in people's lives, how is what is happening in the present to the three of them related to what happened to them in the past?
How did they get here? How did they become Outlaws?
And within the context of the Dark Trinity, what happened to them on their way to becoming quote-Batman, quote-Wonder Woman, quote-Superman, and how they wound up being Red Hood, Artemis and Bizarro.
Nrama: Jason has a mission as you start the issue though, right?
Lobdell: Yeah, it's kind of like Donnie Brasco or Michael Corleone. He's going to find himself getting involved in the Gotham underground. And in his head, he thinks, OK, this is good. I've been trained by Batman, I have all this experience, I can go in and do what I have to do and get out.
But what he's going to discover is that he starts to have a genuine relationship with Roman, who is Black Mask. And he's going to start to realize that Jason, as a person, is kind of susceptible to father issues, whether it's his own father or Batman.
And we see it in the first double-page spread where Roman is pining away for the beauty that is Gotham. And in a way, if you read that speech differently, you kind of see that Black Mask wants what he thinks is best for Gotham, not unlike the way that Bruce is doing what he thinks is best for Gotham.
Then suddenly you have Jason, whose mind might be a little more wide open than the other Robins, is suddenly in this situation where he may have gotten himself in too deep. But that won't be for several issues.
Nrama: You mentioned the "Dark Trinity," which is the name of the first story arc and is a term you've applied to Bizarro, Jason Todd and Artemis, kind of playing off the idea of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman being DC's well-known "Trinity." When you were coming up with the idea of the new Outlaws in Rebirth, was that idea of a "Trinity" in your mind? Or did it just kind of work out that way?
Lobdell: I have been charged with examining those elements. It was more a matter of an offer from Geoff [John, DC President and architect of Rebirth,] upon redoing the Outlaws. The challenge was, what is the reason this group together? Who can we put in this group that will best bounce off of each other, or mirror each other's problems or challenge each other to be the better version of themselves?
I can still remember the meeting when he offered Artemis and Bizarro as the other two Outlaws, and it immediately blew my mind the possibility that we could, you know, not just tell an Outlaw story about three characters and their quest for redemption — which is what the first series was about — but now we could explore, you know, once you redeem yourself, where do you go from there?
Once you put your past in your past, where do you go with your future, with who you are now?
While I think that Jason and Artemis and Kent Clarkerman are all fun, interesting characters who have these connections to other characters, I don't think you could write a series about three characters who want to be other people.
So it's really about three characters who want to be better versions of themselves.
So while we'll look at this series and see a "Dark Trinity," it seems unlikely to me that the three of them will ever, you know, shout "Dark Trinity Go!" or anything like that, or that they'll be a Dark Trinity headquarters that looks like a glass pyramid.
Although… that would be kind of cool now that I've said it out loud.
You have the best ideas.
Nrama: I don't think I can take credit for that. But you know, these characters are very different from that Trinity.
Lobdell: By different, you mean cooler.
Nrama: Obviously. Much cooler. But even different from what people would expect them to be, particularly in the case of Bizarro. You're taking a different approach, right? The solicitations call him "fully formed." Was that something you wanted to do with the character?
Lobdell: Yeah. Although Geoff presented us with the idea of using these characters, he almost immediately stepped away from what that meant. That meant we could start developing a character that is a Bizarro we haven't seen before.
That was really important to me, to make sure that this book feels like you're coming into it without needing to know that there's the square world Bizarro, and the, you know, Forever Evil Bizarro, or Match, or you know, any other variant Bizarros we've met over the years.
This Bizarro is going to be a different — you know, it's so easy to write Bizarro as funny and as childlike and unaware and naive and sometimes stupid, but none of those things appealed to me at all. I want to write a Bizarro who's just bizarre, who thinks differently than everybody else.
And it's going to take Jason and Artemis awhile to get past, you know, this kind of "me am Bizarro" speaking pattern. You know, it's kind of like when you meet someone from a foreign country and they speak in a broken English. You might assume things about their difficulty communicating, but then you find out they're a surgeon or a present of a college. So it's you putting your own limited understanding of the person onto them. And it's not about them, but your own interpretation of them.
Similarly, when they first meet Bizarro, it's almost like, oh, we have to take care of this fragile creature with the power to break the Earth in half. But as they get to know him, they start to realize this is a creature who sees the world and the universe and the space between the universe and the subterranean world — maybe all at once. The possibilities with Bizarro are endless, and I'm looking forward to exploring that.
Nrama: OK, so to finish up, with the first issue coming out, give us the set up for what we'll see. Besides maybe what you've already covered, is there anything else you want readers to know about the way you're approaching Red Hood and the Outlaws for Rebirth?
Lobdell: The fun part of the first few issues of Red Hood is the fact that we're really giving the characters the chance to breath upon introducing them, as opposed to the three of them putting their hands on each other and, you know, shouting "Team Dark Trinity!"
Instead, we meet Jason and we establish his situation, and then we bring in Artemis and establish her situation, and then we bring in Bizarro. And as each of the characters start to meet each other, you start to see how they're going to react. In that way, I'm glad that we have the opportunity to introduce them, but I also think it's really important to note that each of these books don't function as, you know, just kind of placeholders for the story as it goes. But each of the 20 pages of story will feel like a story on its own. And I think it'll make it fun to read each issue.
And of course, like any permutation of Red Hood and the Outlaws that we've seen in the last five or six years, this is a series that has continued to surprise, from arc to arc and story to story, and sometimes even from panel to panel.