The continuing chronicle of Wesley's quest to be published; plus comments on popular culture, family life, and whatever else falls out of his head.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Batman: Under the Hood

Writer: Judd WinnickArtist: Doug MahnkePublisher: DC ComicsThis story arc and the resulting TPB supposedly re-introduces two unused characters to the Batman corner of the DC universe: The Red Hood a previous identity of the Joker, and Jason Todd, more commonly known as Robin II. Roman Sidonis, The Black Mask, has recently clawed his way to become the underworld kingpin in Gotham. But there is a new player on the scene, the Red Hood. At first, it seems the Hood is simply trying to carve out a small piece of Black Mask's territory, but then he sets his sites higher, highjacking 100 pounds of kryptonite Black Mask is trafficking, and wiping out much of the street muscle with lethal force.Meanwhile, Batman, still reeling from losing another Robin, Stephanie Brown, has pushed the rest of his 'soldiers' out of Gotham, allowing only a young woman, Onyx to work in 'his' city. A third Robin, the original--now Nightwing--attempts to dig deeper into Batman's issues by joining him on patrol, but is ineffective in changing Batman's mood. When Batman crosses the Red Hood, Batman immediately recognizes something about his fighting style that reminds him of Jason Todd, and he begins to investigate the possibility that Todd might still be alive.I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I have not been a huge fan of Winnick's work for DC. He tends to hang onto pet concepts and themes after their usefulness--Onyx is a secondary character from Winnick's Green Arrow, for example. And, while, whether this new Red Hood is still under speculation, Winnick has created a character and new situation in Gotham that really piques my interest.Mahnke's artwork is serviceable but not spectacular. Since I hadn't read these stories in monthly format, my only exposure to the look of the Red Hood was through Matt Wagner's covers, where the Red Hood's mask does not have any features. Inside, however, Mahnke puts two whited eye-holes for the mask, which I found took a lot of the visual appeal of the character away.


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