Batman: Under the Red Hood sees Batman come face to face with some of his biggest failures in life. Will he finally be able to make up for them?
Batman: Under the Red Hood Review
Batman #635 New business
The very first chapter of Under the Red Hood starts by explaining how many robins Batman has lost; Jason Todd (Death in the family) and Stephanie Brown (War Games) and how he sees them both as his fault – a feeling I also share to be honest. Batman keeps roping teenagers into his adult world of crime fighting and let’s face it, people die from to time.
But, as the chapter suggests, this book is a bout new business and that new business is the emergence of the Red Hood a character we’ve never seen before and one that appears to be extremely talented and a match for Batman. The book gets the reader straight into the action and finishes with a big reveal that only Batman sees and not the reader. Like many people who would pick this up right now who have read a few Batman books or played Batman: Arkham Knight the identity would be obvious but the book was still showcased and written in such a way it didn’t matter that I knew.
Red Hood is a killer and is confident enough to go against Black Mask which even Batman wouldn’t do head on. He wants to clean the streets just like Batman does but unlike the Dark Knight, he is willing to kill to do it. New Business is an explosive first chapter.
Batman #636 First Strike
Recent events (War Games) have shocked Batman and goes on to suggest he can’t rely on anyone. Presumably this is on the back of what Dr. Leslie Tompkins did in regards to Stephanie Brown. This annoyed me somewhat as I am a big fan of Dick Grayson and feels if there’s anyone that can be relied upon it’s him. However, he could be referring to what happened between Nightwing and Blockbuster but still,
Dick Grayson is and always will be a reliable ally to Bruce.
In the meantime Black Mask recruit Mr. Freeze to help, this shows that maybe now Black Mask is taking Red Hood’s threat seriously. Freeze has always been unhinged and never really a team player. Bruce’s inner monologue suggests he misses dick Grayson but knows it can’t be like it was – but why not? Why does Bruce continuously put himself alone.
Red Hood is busy during First Strike as he continues to harass the Black Mask’s shipments, this time it is a crate of weapons, ones that reminder of the ones in the Black Mirror as they are full of other Gotham villains toys. Bruce has a chase with Red Hood which impresses him a lot – Red Hood may be brutal but he is also highly skilled and agile much like the Batman family. The chapter draws to a close with a pretty epic fight with an Amazon. Having never read a Justice League book I wasn’t familiar but it didn’t take anything away – the fight scene here was amazing.
Batman #637 Overnight Deliveries
The scrap with Amazo continues as Batman and Nightwing come together. At first Batman didn’t need his help but with Nightwing being so reliable (joke there) he stays and helps. It’s such a close call you wonder
what would have happened if Nightwing WASN’T there.
Black Mask still remains calm with all the shenanigans Red Hood is causing, more recently Red Hood ruined Amazo (by activating him) and now a shipment of Kryptonite. Having total control of Gotham wasn’t enough for Red Hood so you assume the Kryptonite was in preparation for his expansion – maybe to Metropolis??
Overnight deliveries is a fairly short chapter with fight scene and not too much plot development just more character development which to be honest I am a fan of.
Batman #638 Bidding War
Black Masks now begins to respect the Red Hood. Despite not being in the title Black Mask is an integral character in Under the Red Hood and I really enjoyed how he has been portrayed by both Judd Winick and the artists. He’s such a great character, funny and knows what he’s doing.
Freeze, Hood, Batman and Nightwing engage in a 4 way battle and it is epic to watch and read. However, it was a poor outcome for Batman as Freeze and Hood got away even with the help of Nightwing. There are a lot of things ‘unlike’ Bruce in Under the Red Hood as if he’s distracted by something. At this point, Under the Red Hood is brewing very nicely.
A short scene ensues but a big one. Hood vs. Joker and it is brutal. Red Hood beats Joker senseless with a crowbar (where have we seen this before?) and personally I thought about time someone did that. Shortly after that is the big reveal of who the Red Hood is and it’s pretty big. What a fantastic chapter, even if the book ended now it would get a 5/5 from me.
Batman #639 Family Reunion Part 1, Word on the Street
As Red Hood’s death toll is rising Batman begins to dig deeper into resurrection. He’s researching bringing people back to life, presumably to do with red hood and his hunch. As he discusses things with Zatanna and how all Lazarus Pits are now closed he gets no further to the explanation. Red hood as well and truly got under Batman’s skin which very few people have.
On the other side of the story, Red Hood manages to get the jump on Onyx who herself is an exceptionally talented crime fighter – Winick continues to write in scenes which show just how good Red Hood is and that he is just a different class to most of Batman’s Rogues Gallery. One could argue that Red Hood is ‘Batman’ good.
Batman #640 Family Reunion Part 2, While the Cat’s Away
A brief appearance from Superman leads into scenes with Red Hood and Onyx and for a minute you think he’s not such a bad guy after all, despite all the killing. Has he killed anyone innocent so far? No. Did any of his kills not deserve it? No. Will Batman care? We shall see…
Superman can’t help batman figure it out. Batman always manages to figure it out but is his mind clouded now because he doesn’t want to face what he actually thinks it is – Jason Todd?
Just as you think Red Hood turns a corner he goes back to killing. An poor Onyx never stood a chance.
Batman #641 Family Reunion Part 3, Face to Face
There’s a flashback for Bruce to all he’s lost and how Bruce still blames himself, you could say he is to blame as he knows any allies could be a target as mentioned previously. Could have have prevented Jason Todd’s death and Stephanie Browns? No, maybe he couldn’t but what he could have done is to not have gotten them into situations where they could be killed.
Red Hood talks a lot, even during fights, just like Todd used to. Now there’s an unmasking and it’s all laid bare after a brief but brilliant fight. Red Hood claims that Batman has blood on his hands and by not stopping Joker sooner he has allowed people to be killed by the crazed clown.
Back at the Batcave Alfred suggest removing Todd’s old costume but Bruce says to keep it as nothing’s changed despite his re emergence. I get this. In Bruce’s mind Todd did die that day, the Todd he knew did. The Todd of today is not the same one that died that day.
Batman #645 Show me yesterday for I can’t find today
Despite the unmasking, the subtle hints in fighting ability and even Red Hood outwardly saying it, Bruce still doesn’t believe that Red Hood is Jason Todd. Another flashback shows the first appearance of Todd as he hilariously steals aa tyre from the Batmobile. Ironically I find it interesting how Todd started as a criminal and is now one again.
More flashbacks of Todd’s robin years, he was dangerous and had a rough edge unlike dick and Tim. A short and tense chapter comes to a close as Batman find’s what he was looking for in Todd’s old coffin.
Batman #646 Franchise, Part 1
Drug dealers find themselves so busy with Black Mask and Red Hood they have forgotten about Batman.. big mistake, however the Red Hood beats him to it and could have killed Bruce – he always seems one step ahead which makes you think it’s all orchestrated beforehand and nothing is by accident. Batman, has fallen right into the trap and hasn’t seen all of it coming…a big surprise. How many villains can say that?
Black Mask’s patience is finally at an end and things could get tasty- the game is on and enlists Deathstroke of all people. Cue Batman and Red Hood realising they’re in trouble.
Batman #647 Franchise, Part 2 The Away Team
Unfortunately for the reader Deathstroke isn’t getting his hands dirty with this one and instead enlists the hilarious duo of Captain Nazi and Hyena. I’ve never seen these two before but I did think to myself that these guys must have been conceived in the 40s/50s. There is third member but it has not been revealed yet. Batman and Red Hood team up to dispatch the motley crew who are now joined by another hilariously named super villain – Captain Vertigo.
Red Hood gets the Nazi kill right in front of Batman. Will he ever be redeemed? Does he want to be redeemed? It’s a fascinating read from Winnick as the inner struggle for Batman and the torment suffered from Red Hood is laid bare.
Batman #648 All they do is watch us kill, part 1
Red Hood has now got to Black Mask good and proper and it seems his master plan is still coming together exactly as he planned. Red Hood forces Mask to kill his own men, I don’t think this will be anything more than an inconvenience to Mask as he isn’t exactly trigger shy himself.
Red Hood also has Joker. Will he have tortured him or finally done what Bruce couldn’t?
In an epic fight Mask gets the better of him (Red Hood) and looks like he killed him. Mask is one of the most formindable fighters in Gotham. Red Hood was either stupid to try take him on or this was a plan all along. Nothing’s gone wrong for Hood so far and it would very disappointing to see Red Hood be ended this way.
At this point the plot is tense, ultra tense. Joker is about, Hood looks dead, Batman is maybe about to face off with Mask and Deathstroke is in town. This book has got it all and I hope the climax is as good as the book has been so far. Winnick has done a wonderful job of keeping a complicated plot with so many characters going on with such a case for 11 issues now.
Batman #649 All they do is watch us kill, part 2
Absolutely brilliant, chapter begins with a miraculous body switch. Wasn’t Hood that got killed. Instead it’s Joker vs Todd which has been a long time in the making in fantasy land of Batman readers and especially the characters involved. Back at the fight scene, Batman saves masks life by kicking the bomb away.
Personally I think Red Hood is out of his depth with Joker, he isn’t any normal villain. Despite the to and fro I know Joker will walk away alive, if Todd hasn’t already killed the Joker then he never will.
Is masks night over?
Red Hood and Batman head to Crime alley to meet after a short interchange, a really strange bomb comes down, it was a bit nonsensical and stopped the epic Hood vs Batman fight. I didn’t like that but perhaps with it being in Bludhaven it was just a reminder of what Nightwing is up to.
Batman #650 All they do is watch us kill, part 3 It only hurts when I laugh
Batman and Red Hood finally come to blows and the fight looks even, over time though it becomes clear that Batman has the upper hand and is able to overpower Red Hood. Surprised? No, but I didn’t think the book was going to end with a fight either.
It all comes down to killing Joker or killing Todd. Bruce is adamant he will never do it even though he is desperate to. and thinks about it day in day night. In a snap move, Joker is free an escapes letting him loose once again on the streets of Gotham City.
Joker wins, like he always does. Even when he loses he seems to win.
Batman Annual #25 The Return of Jason Todd
This annual explored the life, death and return of Jason Todd. I Loved the modern version of the famous image of batman carrying Jason’s body but I didn’t like the explanation of some cosmic event resurrected him; it’s a pretty poor explanation. Although I didn’t like that, I did enjoy his back story and I had a feeling R’as al Ghoul was involved but I did expect the Lazarus pit rather than the cosmic event. Turns out it did play a part.
The annual also retconned some of Hush and how Red Hood/Jason Todd was working with hush, and that this book was not Jason’s first encounter with Batman after coming back from the dead. Amazing rewind of the hush fight, which I’ve read. Brilliant work on the retcon without ruining the hush legacy.
Batman: Under the Red Hood is superb book from start to finish with a stellar cast and an absolute gripping storyline. You should probably read (at the very least) Death in the Family first to truly enjoy this experience.
Last update on 2019-02-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API