Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Red Hood #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Matthew Rosenberg, with art by Nikola Čižmešija, colors by Rex Lokus, and letters by Troy Peteri. This issue is a tie-in to The Gotham War. Red Hood has been helping Catwoman train the former henchmen into his crew, but Jason may have a mission of his own.
This issue is beginning to show a shift in the power structure that has been set up by Catwoman, told through the lens of a few characters. There are a few plot threads in this tie-in that are created early, with some being imperceptible at first. Red Hood has two henchmen, Bash and Simpson, who he is tasked with getting ready for robberies. But the training isn’t easy, and it is the past of the henchman that becomes more important with each page. There are agendas from everyone, and for a while, they are aligned, but it doesn’t take long for things to slip. There’s a repetition throughout the script about certain characters, and it isn’t difficult to assume that it will have ramifications.
The second half is a brilliant escalation, showing how flimsy some of the relationships are. Although this is a tie-in, the final pages are very important to the wider plot of the crossover. Although much of the ending is built in and the eventual horizon can be seen coming, the execution is certainly unexpected. And those plot threads that were started at the beginning of the comic are either wrapped up or intensified by the end of the book, which is impressive in a single issue.
Rosenberg exposes many of the characters’ true selves in this issue. Some strange bedfellows have been made as Catwoman has gathered the henchmen, but Red Hood and Selina seem to have a similar mindset. Jason is more brutal as a trainer, having much less consideration for the criminals. Even then, he recognises that his training is not enough to prepare the men for coming up against Batman. But Jason always has an angle of his own, and his involvement with the two lackeys is part of that. As for Selina, there are parts of her dialogue in this issue that show more flaws in her plan, as well as a nasty side. Her willingness to train men properly is faltering, which can only lead to further problems down the line. Whilst they work together, the abrasiveness of both characters is starting to take effect.
What’s also terrific is how the henchmen themselves are written. There is not much change in how they talk, and they are nearly always nervous. The idea of goons has been a theme within Batman comics for decades, and it’s funny to see them not evolve much even when they change sides. There is a constant around the duo, as Bash specifically is a nervous wreck that only gets worse as the stakes get higher.
The art is fantastic, with a real cartoonish quality to it. This is most noticeable in the henchmen, who are designed to be more comedic in their looks than the other characters. They often have these wide eyes as they are extremely nervous around the intimidating figure of Red Hood, with pinpricks for pupils. In contrast, Catwoman and Red Hood have bigger pupils and are less involved in humorous expressions.
The fight scenes are really interesting. The speed and ferocity of Red Hood are captured superbly, simply a blur when he whales on his new students. Catwoman is illustrated as much smaller than the men in the issue but she can be just as fearsome as Jason when she gets angry.
The colors have a priority of making Red Hood the most prominent character on the page. The scarlet shade of his costume makes him the most colorful figure in an otherwise dark and gloomy setting. The light comes from natural sources, primarily street lights that do their best to fight off the shadows. The lettering is always clean and uniform, with the word balloons not changing much at all throughout the issue.
Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Red Hood #1 narrows the cast to expand the crossover. With so many voices within the main book, this issue still captures the same moral struggle on a smaller scale. The separate missions that other characters have outside of just Batman and Catwoman get to be exposed. Catwoman’s plan always had flaws to it, and within a few pages, several of them are clarified and torn open, to an extent that even Batman may not have foreseen. With a clever plot structure and dominant, conflicting personalities, this issue has fed several dangerous twists back into the main body of the crossover that will certainly have larger consequences.
Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Red Hood #1
Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Red Hood #1 narrows the cast to expand the crossover. With so many voices within the main book, this issue still captures the same moral struggle on a smaller scale.