Wait a second. Okay, let’s go through the list here. No…no…god no…hmmm. Okay, so somehow, and I have no idea how, there aren’t any comics that are coming out today that I am interested in. Weird. Okay, new plan! If you are reading this before I get back from the comic store, which is likely if you look at this before noon at the very least, then just come back sometime later, like tonight or tomorrow, as I’ll have some review done. If you are reading this and there are a lot more words below this, then, hey, my review of Batman: Under the Hood is right there. You can go read it.
Batman: Under the Hood review:
Let me start by letting you know how I first became interested in Jason Todd. My friend is a big Batman fan, and he read Batman Annual #25, which revealed how Jason Todd came back from the grave. While idiotic and completely insane, I do like the story in the sense that it doesn’t cheat by saying Jason Todd never actually died, but instead was only seemingly dead until he found his way back, the way that it happens in soap operas and often in comics. No, Jason died at the hands of the Joker during A Death in the Family. He died, was buried in a coffin in the ground and then Superboy Prime got mad. See, in Infinite Crisis, Superboy Prime, the Superboy from a world not unlike ours (he was one of only a couple superpowered people, named Clark Kent ironically) who lived outside reality with Alexander Luthor. When he saw how shitty DC was (in the sense that Wonder Woman would kill people, the darkness of the universe, not the quality of the comics), he got mad and punched reality. He punched reality so hard that it broke. And one of the things that got broken was Jason Todd’s life. So it happened that six months after he was buried, because Superboy-Prime punched the walls of reality, Jason Todd awoke in his grave. I would think, and I’m guessing lots of people agree here, that waking up after having been beaten and exploded underground in a coffin would be pretty horrifying. So, while Jason has done some stuff since then that has made him seem crazy and maniacal and whatever, I feel sympathetic for him, as everything from A Death in the Family through his going into a lazarus pit would be trying for anybody, and while he isn’t completely sane, he still is trying to do the right thing, for the most part.
Batman: Under the Hood is a really good story in showing with how to mess with Batman. Red Hood knows Batman, knows how he works, knows what he does, and because of that, he can mess with Batman like few others can. While Batfans might have been upset with the way that they brought Jason Todd back, after it was such a big deal for him to die, I don’t think that this really undermines that in any way. The way I see it, Winick makes the entire point of the book and the final actions of Jason to be a reference to his death. In Under the Hood, Jason causes a lot of trouble in Gotham, mostly by messing with Black Mask’s territory and taking out criminals and criminal activities using lethal force if necessary. While Red Hood and Batman are fighting against Captain Nazi, the Hyena and Count Vertigo, Alfred, through narration, tells a story about Jason.
Master Jason’s had a condescending practice of referring to the costumed criminal elements as “dress ups.” He also noted that such individuals did not fear the Batman the way the street toughs and mafiosos did. The “dress ups” did not believe that he was a monster. I explained to Jason that he was correct, but only to a certain degree. These individuals with their special abilities…these men who could do the unimaginable…these madmen…they have their own myths. Some believe he is just a man. Others believe he is an army. Some think he can’t be injured. Others believe he can’t die. But the boy did say something to me that chilled me to the bone…even then. “They all know he won’t kill them.” I’m not sure what frightened me more. The observation by one as young as Jason…that power could be leveled with the threat of murder. Or the fact that he was most likely correct.
What I like is that Jason confronts Batman about his no killing policy. I certainly have to admit that to Black Mask, Red Hood was a lot scarier than Batman, considering how many of Black Mask’s people he took out. It’s something that lots of superheroes deal with, an ethical code that keeps them from killing. Some don’t care as much about killing, but others strive not to. It is what convinced Iron Man in the Illuminati special to send Hulk to space and to accept registration. If heroes killed, then not only would you get those specific villains off the streets permanently (well, somewhat more permanently at any rate, this is comics we are talking about) to stop them from hurting and stealing and killing, but you also send a message to all the other crazies out there that you’re not going to get a slap on the wrist if you do something wrong, you’re going to end up dead. Batman, at his best, can convince you he’s going to hurt you really bad, and I mean really bad, but Batman isn’t going to kill. A normal thug might be scared of that, but the crazies aren’t as scared of that. They get sent to jail, to Arkham, whatever, they can usually break out or something will break them out. They’ll be back out on the streets again. But some psychopath who kills villains? That’s a lot more to deal with.
All in all, I think that Under the Hood really provides a good example of why Batman is the best at what he does, eventually defeating Red Hood and doing it his own way, but it also provides examples to the contrary so that you can see Batman’s is only one way of dealing with things and another might work just as well, and perhaps better.