Saturday, February 01, 2014


Comic Art


So, this space, every other week, is devoted to bad guys. Today we examine a character that has the worst of origins, but is well, not so bad after all - The Red Hood. Like most good ideas in comic books, there are multiple incarnations. The first was an alias for the most villainous villain of all time - The Joker. But the story does not get really interesting until the modern incarnation.

Batman is currently on Robin number 4 - unless you count the future Robin's we know about then, well, the count rises significantly. Anyway, Robin #2, Jason Todd, was not much of a fan, or Batman favorite. So DC Comics, in one of the biggest events of 1980's comicdom killed him off. It was a huge deal. They set it up so that the story ended with his life in the balance and the fans voted on whether he would come up dead or alive next issue. The fans overwhelmingly voted him dead. It was an ugly death, beaten to a pulp by the Joker. (No one else could possibly kill a member of the Bat-family.)

Well, like all good comic characters, the dead must rise again and Jason Todd is back among the living. But there is a new Robin, so what to do? Well, in this case, Todd came back with such a mad-on at Batman that he set himself up in the Joker's old alias and proceeded to lead a crime wave through Gotham designed purposefully to allow him to kill Bats. You got to admit - this has Shakespeare written all over it.

In a twist, Todd is still really a good guy but is attempting to beat the criminals by taking them over - ala The Green Hornet. (There are no new ideas in comics, only repackaging.) Batman, of course, thinks this the dumbest idea since New Coke and so the animosity remains even if the war does not.

And now, Red Hood, teamed up with former-drug addict sidekick Roy Harper (Once Speedy to Green Arrow) and rejected alien Teen Titan Starfire (hottie and a half) "Red Hood and the Outlaws" wage a war on criminals in a non-Comics Code Authority acceptable fashion. The RHO writing has a bit of work to be really good, they are still finding their pace and niche, but the characters are great and it is the way to do edgy. Don't take our beloved characters and add edge - rather set up a situation where edge makes sense and go with it free of the restraints of the established characters.

Jason Todd is a lot cooler under the Red Hood than he ever was in the bird outfit.


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