In part four of the Batman: Prelude to the Wedding series of one-shots, Tim Seeley, Javier Hernandez, Hugo Petrus, and John Kalisz show Catwoman’s bachelorette party. And Jason Todd, his “Outlaw” teammate Bizarro, and Anarky crash the party, hence, the title Red Hood vs. Anarky #1. Like he’s done with the other one-shots, Seeley finds the duality in Jason and Lonnie Machin aka Anarky. One is trying to please his adopted father Batman while the other is trying to please the Joker, who Lonnie’s single mother said was his dad to get him to shut up as a child. However, this neediness is buried beneath a rebellious and individualistic streak with Jason being the sole member of the Bat-family who regularly uses guns, and Anarky’s whole non-ideology ideology of creating chaos at every opportunity.
There is an agility and slight edgy grit to Fernandez and Petrus’ art style and Kalisz’s colors, but things never get too serious in Red Hood vs. Anarky #1 beginning with a member of Catwoman’s bachelorette saying that Nightwing is the hottest member of the Bat-family. Even though he doesn’t kill anyone (Or risk losing his 150K contract from Batman to watch out for Catwoman), there is a rugged choreography to Jason’s action scenes as he kicks the craps out of some white supremacist incels working for Anarky and dedicated to the cause of ending “male exploitation” aka strippers. Then, Seeley and Fernandez indulge in a little bit of horror when Jason threatens one of the incels with a knife, the man’s terrified face reflecting in his mask as he spins a tale of all the urban legends surrounding the Red Hood from the main villain of “Zero Year” to the proto-Joker and finally Jason’s own backstory. In a traditional superhero comic, this would be the actions of villain more than a hero, but Jason is an anti-hero facing some utter scumbags so the scene elicits some guilty fist pumping to go with the general freakiness.
Each one-shot in the Prelude to the Wedding series has had given its lead character a mini-arc in a high concept setting and concluded with a nice little epiphany like a bow on a gift wrapped present. The epiphanies haven’t been “earth shattering” reveals that lead to events and spinoff miniseries, but small moments of personal growth. For example, Jason goes from making an easy, quick buck by being the black ops guardian of Catwoman’s bachelorette party to containing the whole Anarky situation using compromise instead of all out violence so she can have a good time dancing at the old Goth club that was one of the few highlights of her sad and difficult upbringing. However, Jason hasn’t gone completely soft as evidenced by his actions towards Anarky at the end of the comic when Batman cancels his contract with him after he fails at remaining incognito around Catwoman. He’s more likely to shoot you in the head, er, kneecaps than hear a sob story about your daddy and/or mommy issues.
Surprising for a book co-starring a character named Anarky, Red Hood vs. Anarky #1 ends up being an argument for centrism and open dialogue in polarized times as evidenced by Jason’s ingenious solution of offering $300 to Anarky’s supporters’ cause if they stop fighting. But the dialogue where Bizarro (Kind of the Oracle of the Outlaws’ operation.) mentions pro-life and gun activists and anti-fascists and “militant feminists” as all sharing the some “anger” is kind of a head scratcher because that would mean Jason Todd would be donating money to the NRA and organizations that say Planned Parenthood sells baby parts. It’s a big moment for him that he stopped a mob with his words and not guns, but at what cost? Jason Todd is an opportunist and a bit of mercenary so it does make sense that he would hug the middle of the political spectrum so not as to offend any potential clients. Also, what is the boundary between being too extreme or kow-towing to immoral forces. Seeley brings up these questions between the ass kicking, one-liners, and bachelorette party/black ops mission fun.
With dashes of humor and character insights from Tim Seeley, gorgeous costuming and fight choreography from Javier Fernandez and Hugo Petrus, and a glitzy, grimy, and just plain red color palette from John Kalisz, Red Hood vs. Anarky #1 is another successful Bat-family-centric one-shot in the run-up to Batman and Catwoman’s wedding. It even has some semi-controversial political commentary to boot.
Story: Tim Seeley Art: Javier Fernandez, Hugo Petrus
Colors: John Kalisz Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.8 Art: 8 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review