Once Jason Todd goes back to a Gotham neighborhood where even the Bat is cautious to tread, multiple timely elements combine to interest if you don't look at the numbers too closely.
No matter what is happening in Gotham City, there is one neighborhood that's always on a different page. The Hill is a predominantly Black neighborhood where the shadow of the Bat almost never falls, and very few people are afraid of his shtick. Apparently, gentrification is slowly coming to the Hill due to its proximity to prime real estate, but old habits die hard, and Jason Todd is bringing his own brand of vigilante activism to a complex situation.
First, some numbers, and that's part of where this issue leaves you scratching your head. Twelve years ago, Jason Todd asked his childhood friend Dana Harlowe to keep an eye on a Hill apartment he bought. Okay. Twenty-one years ago, Demetrius Korlee Jr. saw his father sent to jail by the Batman, swinging through the Hill for maybe the first time ever, and took the same lesson Marisol Leone understood in Metropolis: don't get caught up with masks and capes. He built a successful business with a foot in the streets and a legitimate branch of business to keep the money clean.
Here's where Shawn Martinbrough's otherwise effective script slipped: once you attach concrete numbers of years to something, they start to look fishy. An adult, fully functional Batman took down Korlee Senior twenty-one years ago? There is a conceivable way that could work (Batfleck is 48 as of this writing), but then how old is Jason Todd? It makes the whole sidekick timeline shaky, especially since Jason acquired the property after going to school with Harlowe but before, you know, dying. Sure, this lines up with the 20th anniversary of Batman's release: The Hill, but those details are more relevant to the meta-narrative than the in-world plot.
If you can stop puzzling over that kind of detail, the only other real hiccup is the visual similarity between Korlee Jr. and his rival/illicit supplier Jerome "Gudda" Gordi, making the distinction between them require a more discerning pass. From the actions of an ambitious scion of money to the complex balance of power between localized vigilantes and criminal elements, the other elements of this are all pretty engaging.
This is a solid book that may have reached a little farther than its grasp could hold, but perhaps might be redeemed in its next installment. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
A new era begins for the Red Hood! With his Outlaw days behind him, Jason Todd returns home to Gotham City. While he plots what's next for Red Hood, he tracks down a childhood friend now living in the Hill. As Gotham City reels from the effects of "The Joker War," Jason finds himself caught in the crossfire between vigilante protectors of the historic neighborhood and a rising criminal element intent on seizing power!
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at http://bit.ly/combatshaman.