Monday, May 26, 2014

[Best of Batman] Under the Red Hood by Judd Winick

The first time I encountered this story was through its animation film “Under the Hood” and I absolutely loved it, mostly because Jensen Ackles voiced Jason Todd while Neil Patrick Harris was Nightwing. It was pleasant to finally read the original source material and I thoroughly consumed it because it has a richer backstory than the film. 

The story follows the aftermath of the events in the harrowing comic book A Death in the Family where the second Robin, Jason Todd, wasn’t saved by Batman when the Joker abducted and murdered him. It turns out he wasn’t dead and is determined to make Batman regret losing. He cleans up after the Gotham streets by killing every mobster he could get his hands on, all the while challenging Batman’s moral code, urging him to cross that line because he claims it’s freeing and that the true definition of justice is passing judgment onto criminals through execution.

I believe that the best Batman stories are those that deal with his relationships with people and this one examined Batman as the father figure to the Robins, Dick and Jason. It also showed the readers that Batman needs his Robins a lot more than he thought. There were many moving moments in this book, particularly the confrontations between Batman and Red Hood (Jason Todd). I like the action sequences a lot and they are enhanced by the gripping narrative and the emotionally volatile dialogue. There was plenty of humor too among the characters since the Black Mask and the Joker are present, and Alfred’s insights on Bruce’s relationships with his Robins in the context of death and grief made me want to hug little Bruce in the flashbacks. Green Arrow and Superman had cameos as well and the strained way Batman talks to them was telling of how he usually relates to fellow crusaders. You can really feel the uneasiness on his part.

Overall, there is a lot to love about this comic book. You can appreciate the action scenes and how they were drawn, and you can get lost on the heartaches of Jason Todd as he tries to shake Batman from realizing his mistake for not killing the Joker as a way to avenge him. Under the Hood is really good stuff.


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