Batman: White Knight Presents – Red Hood #1-2: Friendly Neighborhood Red Hood

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Fallout is difficult, no matter the medium. Having to capture the essence of lightning in a bottle of a work and repackage it into something new is a struggle that works at high risk and offers great reward. Failure to do so leads to a story that feels either redundant with the original work or so separate that the two works have no reason to be linked. A book like Batman: The White Knight Presents – Red Riding Hood falls into the first category, which attempts to expand on the aptly named Murphyverse, but the result is a messy and incongruous entry.

Batman: The White Knight Presents – Red Riding Hood comes from a story by Sean Murphy with a screenplay by Clay McCormack, art by Simone Di Meo and George Kambadais, colors by Di Meo and Dave Stewart, and lettering by AndWorld Design. The interlude in two numbers takes place between the pages of Batman: Beyond the White Knight (specifically issues two and five), dealing with Jason Todd’s past and present in the Murpyverse. The heart of the book’s plot reveals the story behind the Robin Jason formed after the Joker’s brutal attack and Batman’s betrayal.

Alone in the world, Jason meets Gan, a young woman who has taken over Robin’s mantle in East Blockport, and begins training her as Robin fights to protect his neighborhood from Shriek. Jason becomes obsessed with creating the perfect Robin and realizes he looks more like Bruce than he cares to admit.

Both numbers offer strong thematic resonance to the main White knight story while giving Jason – a character who still feels out of place in DC’s lineups – a fun premise. McCormack’s scripts are tight and concise, never lingering in Jason’s internal thoughts for too long. It is clear from the brief moments of Beyond that the trauma of being Robin haunts Jason, but his more self-destructive tendencies still show. Gan is also a great introductory and centering force for the series, not only reflecting an inverse perspective on Jason’s origins, wanting to do good for his neighborhood rather than Jason’s self-centered desire to survive.

Gan also comes into danger the same way Jason did, and it gives the former sidekick a moment to pause and then run away. The setting of the story deals with Jason stalking and apologizing to Gan, giving his reasons for training, and then running away from her. Jason has been lucky in other White knight titles to start the healing process with Bruce, and he also takes the initiative to initiate this process for Gan.

Giving Jason this chance to heal his past traumas by forming a new Robin is a smart move, one that deserves a longer run with more consistent art. The title would have worked better with the White Knight: Harley Quinn format, like a miniseries coming out between the main installment of the Murphyverse. Letting the series develop naturally while stabilizing the visual language and style would have solved many problems with this series.

The art changes are distracting between the two issues, and it’s curious why they change, other than for logistical reasons. Di Meo’s and Kambadais’ styles aren’t the furthest apart, and Stewart’s coloring goes a long way toward making the pencils cohesive. Colors can only go so far, and even with this equalizer the book looks disjointed between the two number sections. The most shocking change is the change between the beginning of number one, which takes place during Jason’s childhood as Robin. Di Meo takes care of the artistic duties throughout issue one and, in this opening, also colors the pages.

It’s a sequence reminiscent of Di Meo’s other works and an amazing handling of a scene that’s been done many times before. The shocking moment comes when Di Meo stops coloring the book and Stewart takes over. It’s a choice that gives the book an overall more cohesive style of coloring that matches other White Knight entries, but in the same breath establishes a pattern of asymmetry in this miniseries and its visual language.

The art is also inconsistent between the two issues in terms of design and facial expressions. It’s hard in places to anchor as the story unfolds, which is odd because the main series establishes a strong visual style for Gotham over the decades. The two styles are distinct enough to feel different from each other, but when combined with Stewart’s colors they begin to blind and make it difficult to determine a character change or character models. of Gan. Again, Stewart’s colors do the job of distinguishing (mostly in Jason’s hair) what has streaks of gray in modern times.

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