Fictional character biography
The Red Hood first appeared in Detective Comics #168, "The Man Behind The Red Hood!" (which was published in February of 1951). In the original continuity, the man later known as the Joker was a master criminal going by the Red Hood alias. His costume consisted of a large domed red helmet and a red cape. While attempting to rob a chemical plant, his men were dispatched and then he was suddenly cornered on a catwalk by Batman. Left with no alternatives, he dove into a catch basin for the chemicals and swam to freedom, surviving because of a special breathing apparatus built into the helmet. The toxins in the vat permanently disfigured him, turning his hair green, his skin white and his lips red. His discovery of this change was too much for his already unbalanced mind to bear, and he toppled over the edge into utter insanity. Changing his primary alias to "The Joker" he became Batman's greatest foe and one of Gotham City's biggest threats.
In Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore wrote an alternative origin of the Joker, and thus the Red Hood; the man who would become the Joker is portrayed as a former chemical engineer, now a struggling stand-up comedian with a pregnant wife. He is approached by the Red Hood gang who wanted him to lead them through the chemical plant he once worked at so they can rob the card factory next door. He accepts in order to make enough money to start a better life for his family. The gang gives him the Red Hood costume, which has been worn by many men before. This way, the gang is able to falsely identify the Red Hood as their leader on all crimes they perform whenever things go wrong. The day of the proposed robbery, police inform him that his wife died in a freak accident. He attempts to back out of the robbery, but the gang strong-arms him into keeping his commitment. During the robbery, the plant's security men spot the intruders and shoot the other criminals dead. The engineer tries to flee, but Batman appears and corners him on the plant's catwalk. Terrified, he jumps off the catwalk into the chemical basin to escape. As in the previous origin story, he goes insane after discovering what the chemicals have done to his face and becomes the Joker. The Joker himself is reluctant to admit that this iteration of his story is definitive, stating: "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another...if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!"
A retroactive continuity change appears between the Batman #450-451 story line The Return of the Joker and the graphic novel one-shot Batman: The Man Who Laughs. In The Return of the Joker, the Joker resurfaces after apparently being killed at the end of the Batman: A Death in the Family storyline. In this story, the Joker rummages through his belongings, finds the Red Hood costume and wears it for a robbery in order to regain his confidence and become the Joker again. The Man Who Laughs is a retelling of the first appearance of the Joker, a few months after the Red Hood's plunge into the chemicals, tying the story into both Batman: Year One and The Killing Joke. In this story, Batman is in possession of the Red Hood costume, presumably having discovered it on the banks where the Joker washed up after his swim in the chemical basin.
A new Red Hood appears in the Batman: Under the Hood storyline running through Batman comics, written by Judd Winick. Jason Todd, the former Robin killed by the Joker in Batman: A Death in the Family, is revealed to be resurrected as the new Red Hood. His debut culminates in a fateful confrontation with those he feels have wronged him. He beats the Joker with a crowbar (mirroring the way the Joker had tortured him before killing him with a bomb) and later kidnaps him. The new Red Hood assumes control over various gangs in Gotham City and starts a one-man war against Black Mask's criminal empire. He actively tries to cleanse the city of corruption, such as the illegal drug trade and gang violence, but in a violent, antiheroic way. He eventually comes to blows against Batman and other heroes allies, including the new Robin (Tim Drake), Onyx and Green Arrow.
In the second story arc of Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison and Philip Tan, Jason retakes the Red Hood mantle. With the goal of making the very concept of Batman obsolete, he puts a lot of effort into public relations: he drastically alters his Red Hood costume to look more like a traditional superhero outfit, recruits his own sidekick known as Scarlet. In their war on crime Red Hood and Scarlet freely kill criminals, villains and anyone who gets in his way, even the police. After all his killings he leaves behind a calling card which states "let the punishment fit the crime". He describes his vendetta against Dick Grayson as "the revenge of one crazy man in a mask on another crazy man in a mask".
After Barry Allen's involuntary tampering with the continuum, Red Hood is shown, along with Arsenal and Starfire, as one of the Outlaws, a close knit group of anti-heroes. Still not above killing, and still angry at the world, Jason has now reverted to the street clothes costume, forgoing his feud with Batman for stealthier, more cloak and dagger missions.
In an interview for the Infinite Crisis hardcover, Jeanine Schaefer states that Geoff Johns originally planned to reintroduce Red Hood as the Jason Todd of the Earth-Two universe, but such plans were discarded.
Red Hood Gang
Following DC's 2011 reboot, a gang called the "Red Hood" appears in issue zero of Batman. A young Bruce Wayne who had just recently returned to Gotham, had not become Batman yet, but nevertheless had started his crime fighting career. One of Bruce's early targets was the Red Hood Gang, which he managed to infiltrate undercover. Unfortunately for Bruce, the leader of the Red Hood Gang knew his group had been infiltrated and managed to weed out a disguised Bruce as the culprit. Though the Red Hood Gang attempted to kill him, Bruce manages to escape into the sewers after the police show up to break up the robbery. The Red Hood Gang eventually follows him into the sewer system, but a prototype motorcycle hidden in the tunnels allows Bruce to escape. The Red Hood Gang is later seen outside of Bruce's apartment, scoping it out for their next hit.
The Red Hood Gang subsequently reappeared in the first story arc of the "Zero Year" event, "Secret City", where five months prior to the birth of Batman, Bruce turns to get involved with the Red Hood Gang, to spoil their plans to sink a pickup truck full of men who refused to join their ranks. Continuing with their plans, they kidnap an airship belonging to The Penguin and stolen several weapons from Wayne Industries, which they changed to make them more lethal. More later, Bruce discovers that the Red Hood Gang has been doing business with Philip Kane, who was selling them weapons in exchange that they stop stealing. When Bruce discovers this information, he goes to his house intending to communicate with his butler Alfred Pennyworth, but the apartment explodes because of a bomb that the Red Hood Gang put to "welcome him back to the city".
Part of the group of the Red Hood Gang enters the place with their leader and seeing that his victim is alive, he begins to beat him to near death. Before leaving, the leader of the gang thanks Bruce for having indirectly caused the killing of his parents since the death of the Waynes at the hands of one certain criminal can inspired anyone like him to create the most prominent criminal gang of Gotham City. Thus, the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne was not only the birthplace of the Dark Knight, but also of where the Red Hood Gang originated. After that, they began to march out to let the fire consume the remains of the place.
When the first appearances of Batman begins to hit Gotham City hard, the leader of the gang does not show any display at all and isn't concerned at all either, while the new hero seems to only focus on the members of his organization. They still decide to kidnap the young millionaire hero when he publicly exposed their plans to attack the city with a venom that consumed the meat of the infected manufactured entirely in the ACE chemical plant. The leader prepares to kill Bruce, but considering that he already planned this, makes sure to cut the lights out and is disguised as Batman to begin to fight. Little by little and making use of his vast gadgets, Batman fights the gang members one by one, but unfortunately a fire breaks out there and begins to consume everything.
When it seems finally that there are no henchmen left to fight against, Batman goes after the leader, who he manages to foil from escaping in a helicopter. Both fall over a footbridge and begin to fight, but a sudden explosion ends the full-scale fight. With the network gateway section that Red Hood One is on crumbling, Bruce tries to help him, but the villain refuses to hold his hand, saying that "it would not be fun, since this is just the beginning", then is dropped into a container of chemicals. Afterwards, the remaining members of the gang were then killed in an explosion by the Joker.
It is assumed that after the event, the Red Hood Gang is officially extinct. A few days later, police discover the body of the assumed leader of the gang, Liam Distal, stuffed into a barrel of lye. The lye dissolved the better part of his remains, meaning there was no way to tell when he was killed and placed there. Bruce surmises that the Red Hood Leader he encountered was an impostor and had killed Distal and taken his place, but there was no way to confirm it or know when the impostor murdered Distal. It could have been months prior to the event, or the two could have switched out during the leader's attempted escape by helicopter.
Unrelated to the Joker and Jason Todd incarnations of the Red Hood, is Red Hood from the limited series Kingdom Come. The Kingdom Come Red Hood is Lian Harper, daughter of super-hero Roy Harper and villainess Cheshire. A skilled archer much like her father, her costume and name are modeled after both the fictional Little Red Riding Hood character and possibly Robin Hood. Lian's costume is also at least partially modeled after Centaur Publications' Arrow
An animated version of the character appears at the end of The Batman Adventures #8. It was meant to be a subplot to be resolved later, but the cancellation of the ongoing series prevented that. Though the creative team (Dan Slott and Ty Templeton) behind the story are hoping for a chance to resolve it, they have yet to do so. It has been stated that this Red Hood is someone crucial to the DC animated universe.
Dan Slott mentioned that the background of the character would tie into a subplot concerning Lucius Fox, the Vellestra Gang (from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) and the Powers Family (including an infant Derek Powers from Batman Beyond)
Justice League: Generation Lost
A future version of the Red Hood is shown in Justice League: Generation Lost #14. Here, he is revealed to be the partner of the Batman of that era, as well as a member of the Justice League. His real name is stated to be Thomas Grayson, implying that he is somehow related to Dick Grayson.
A version of the Red Hood appears in Batman '66 #3. Here he threatens the city if the Joker is not turned over to him at midnight. Despite Batman's attempts to capture Red Hood, he escapes with the Joker. It's soon revealed that the Red Hood is Professor Overbeck, a doctor at Arkham. His new method of treating the patients by using his brainwaves to correct their minds backfired when used on the Joker. Thus when he wears the helmet, he acts as a villain with all the knowledge of the Joker. Professor Overbeck is cleared and the Red Hood's helmet is locked away for safekeeping. 
In other media
- The original incarnation of Red Hood appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Jeff Bennett. This version is a heroic alternate reality version of the Joker and is shown to be an extremely capable fighter, able to hold his own against multiple members of the Injustice Syndicate. In addition, he wields projectile weapons shaped like spades (a reference to his mainstream counterpart's playing card motif). Like the Joker, the Red Hood was disfigured after falling into a chemical vat at the Ace Chemical Plant but he was already a superhero and was actively dropped in by Owlman, leaving his sanity 'Bent but not broken'. In the episode "Deep Cover for Batman!", Red Hood tries to rally his world's heroes (alternate versions of the villains from the "normal" universe) against the Injustice Syndicate but they are defeated. Red Hood escapes and tries to use a device to recruit help from the 'mainstream' Earth but he is captured by the Injustice Syndicate. After Batman is attacked by Owlman (sent to Batman's universe on a reconnaissance mission), he journeys to Red Hood's dimension. During scenes in this episode, Red Hood's face is shown albeit in shadow which shows a bit of green hair and a wide grin that clearly resembles Joker. After the heroes are freed and the villains defeated, Red Hood thanks Batman and hopes his counterpart can return the favor. Sure enough in the next episode "Game Over for Owlman!", Batman is forced to team-up with Joker in order to defeat Owlman (impersonating Batman and ruining his reputation in his absence).
- A similar character Red X appears in the Teen Titans animated series. In the episode "X", Jason Todd is seen amongst the possible candidates of Red X's identity.
- The Jason Todd incarnation of Red Hood appears as the main antagonist in the 2010 animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood, voiced by Jensen Ackles. Also, the Joker is seen as the original version of Red Hood during a flashback and it's implied that several people have used the Red Hood persona.
- In Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, at the end of the film, a statue of the original Red Hood can be seen inside the Batcave.
- The original version of Red Hood is alluded in Batman: Arkham City. Hugo Strange's interview tape mentions that the Joker got his Red Hood outfit from Carmine Falcone's men to rob the Ace Chemicals Plant which led to his transformation during a fight with Batman.
- The original version of Red Hood is again alluded in Batman: Arkham Origins. In an interview with Harleen Quinzel, the Joker has a brief flashback sequence in which the player controls his Red Hood guise. His Red Hood appearance then becomes a character trophy that the player can freely view in the Extras menu.
- The original version of Red Hood is mentioned in Lego Batman: The Video Game as a part of the Joker's biography.
- The Jason Todd version of Red Hood appears in the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita versions of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes as a playable character.
- The original version of Red Hood appears as Joker's alternate attire released as DLC for the fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- The Jason Todd version of Red Hood is referenced in Batman: Arkham City. In the Joker's Funhouse challenge map, when you play as Robin, Joker will sometimes say "Didn't I kill you already?", a reference to the previous Robin.
- The Jason Todd version of Red Hood appears as a playable charater in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
- The Jason Todd incarnation of Red Hood is set to appear as DLC in the upcoming video game Batman: Arkham Knight along with Harley Quinn DLC. The character will be voiced by Troy Baker.
- An action figure of the original version of Red Hood was released as part of the Justice League Unlimited toyline, included in a six figure set.
- In July, 2014, the DC Collectibles action figure toy line is releasing a New 52 version of the Jason Todd, Red Hood. He will be released with his other team mates from The Outlaws (Arsenal and Starfire).
- Red Hood and the Outlaws #1-#2 (2011)
- Infinite Crisis (Hardcover ed.). p. 258. "Well, Geoff's idea was to have Red Hood be the Jason Todd of Earth-Two. So he'd be this kid, who wanted to be Batman's sidekick. He sneaks into the Batcave, and the first thing he sees as he boots up the bat-computers is...Batman murdered. And so he uses Bruce's stuff, training himself to take over for him. I think there was even talk of his possibly being Deathstroke's Robin."
- Batman #0
- Batman #21
- Batman #22
- Batman #23
- Batman #24
- Red Hood and the Outlaws #25
- Justice League: Generation Lost #14
- Batman '66 #3
- "345552_FINAL_Publicity.jpg (image)". 2.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
- Infamous: Gods Among Us: Joker Gets Three New Skins in 'Killing Joke' Pack