Batman: Under the Hood
|"Under the Hood"|
|Publication date||February 2005 – April 2006|
|Title(s)||Batman #635-641, 645-650, Annual #25|
|Main character(s)||Bruce Wayne/Batman
Jason Todd/Red Hood
"Batman: Under the Hood" is a comic book story arc published by DC Comics, written by Judd Winick and primarily illustrated by Doug Mahnke. Featuring Batman in the monthly title of the same name, it ran from February to August 2005, before going on a short hiatus and returning from November 2005 to March 2006.
The story was notable and controversial for bringing long-dead Batman supporting character Jason Todd back to life, and reimagining him as a brutally violent antihero known as the Red Hood. Writer Jeph Loeb suggested in his Batman story "Hush" that Jason may, in fact, be alive, and Winick attached his return story to Jason's appearance in "Hush", before building an entire story around it. In Summer 2010, Winick penned the six-issue arc, "Red Hood: The Lost Years", further detailing Jason's return and his training across the globe before his eventual collaboration with his former mentor's nemesis, Hush. The arc was adapted as a DC Universe Animated Original Movie entitled Batman: Under the Red Hood, and was released in Summer 2010.
In 1988, writer Jim Starlin wrote the Batman story "A Death in the Family", that featured Jason Todd's death at the hands of the Joker. The story of Jason Todd remained virtually untouched for the better part of 15 years, until the character appeared to have been active in the "Hush" storyline. Although it was later revealed that Clayface had posed as Jason, the end of "Hush" raised questions about the whereabouts of Jason's body, as it was not in its grave.
A flashback to Batman's early years (post Dick Grayson's retirement as Robin) shows a young Jason Todd attempting to steal the wheels off of the Batmobile. Following this, he becomes the new Robin. From there, it features the gangster Black Mask, who controls most of Gotham City's criminal underworld. His assistant details the recent foiled criminal activities by a persona known only as the Red Hood. Promptly, the Red Hood appears and destroys the top floor of Black Mask's fortress with a long-range explosive. After this, Black Mask teams up with other supervillains in the Secret Society of Supervillains (Deathstroke, Captain Nazi, Hyena, Count Vertigo) to combat Red Hood. When Batman arrives, the pair defeat Black Mask's hired hit-villains, but the Red Hood's deadly tactics leave Batman and Red Hood to end on bad terms.
After the fight, more flashbacks on the part of Alfred Pennyworth ensue. Post-scene, Alfred receives a package with a lock of green hair and a note from Jason asking for Batman to meet him. In the next scene, Black Mask calls a meeting of all his top associates and murders them under the eye of Red Hood. Once this deed is completed, Black Mask and Red Hood engage in combat, ending with Batman arriving just in time to see Red Hood stabbed in the heart with his own knife. When Black Mask removes Red Hood's helm, he sees that it is not Jason Todd, to which Batman recoils loudly enough to be detected by Black Mask. The two talk for a moment, then Batman traps Black Mask and flees to the point Jason wished to meet him at.
Jason has kidnapped the Joker and administers a savage beating, only to be frustrated by the villain's maniacal laughter. When Jason tells the Joker that he sees through the latter's crazy act, the Joker for once falls grimly silent. Then enters Batman. The following fight is brief, and is interrupted by a bomb being dropped on Blüdhaven by the Society, where Dick Grayson now fights crime as Nightwing. Then, Jason reveals the place where he has hidden the Joker. He tosses a gun to Batman and takes one for himself. Using the Joker as a human shield, Jason points his gun at the Joker's head and tells Batman that he must either kill Jason, or let Jason kill the Joker on a count of three. At the last half-second, Batman drops the gun and throws a batarang at Jason's shoulder. The Joker then triggers the explosives wired throughout the building.
The scene then cuts to Jason's miraculous resurrection. Following this, he is institutionalized, escapes, and turns to living on the streets. Ra's al Ghul, with the help of his daughter, Talia, kidnaps Jason and holds him in care for a year. Ra's then tells his daughter that he is going to send Jason away. Then he takes the short trip to his Lazarus Pit. Talia, angered, pushes Jason into the pit as well, unleashing and empowering a new, stronger, more violent creature. Talia then smuggles him out of the estate and gives him a bag containing money, a computer and memories of Batman, the Joker, and Red Hood. Jason attempts to reconnect with Batman, but his former mentor fights and defeats him. He proceeds to reveal the empire he has built for himself as he decides to don an old mantle of the Joker: the Red Hood.
Hilary Goldstein of IGN criticized the story's development involving Jason coming back to life. "The secret of the Red Hood is revealed and it's — hold on, I have to go vomit now. Sigh. It's a well-told story, problem is I don't like the story being told."