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Comic Book Origins: Red Hood


Script written by Craig Butler He may have been everyone's least favorite Robin, but Jason Todd won everyone over as the Red Hooded super-villain. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of the Red Hood. As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character's past. Special thanks to our users Laiba Khurshid, Shahab Gh, Karan Gandotra, John Macaluso and Kevin Shoop for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Superhero Origins: Red Hood


He may have been everyone’s least favorite Robin, but Jason Todd won everyone over as the Red Hooded super-villain. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of the Red Hood.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. For the firstRed Hood, we have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1951’s Detective Comics #168. For the secondRed Hood, we have chosen to follow the storyline which unfolded in 2006’s Batman Annual #25 and which was expanded upon in 2010’s Red Hood: The Lost Days #1-6 and 2012’s Red Hood and the Outlaws #0.

As we’ll soon see, there have been two Red Hoods. Neither one possesses superpowers, but the second is exceptionally well-trained in hand-to-hand combat and excels at physical feats. And both have been known to cause trouble for Batman.

The first Red Hood was a mysterious criminal with scarlet hood that completely covered his face. He was almost apprehended by Batman, but escaped by diving into a vat of chemicals and then disappeared. Ten years later. While teaching a criminology class, Batman challenged his students to look into what happened to the villain.

As they did so, the Red Hood suddenly reappeared and resumed his criminal carrier. This turned out to be a petty thief who had donned the disguise after subduing the real Red Hood. And the real Red Hood turned out to be none other than the Joker.

Jump ahead several decades when the mantel of Robin, Batman’s sidekick, had been passed from Dick Grayson to Jason Todd. In the famous 1988 storyline “A Death in the Family” The Joker brutally murdered Jason Todd just when the boy had tracked down his long-lost mother.

But the dead don’t stay buried in the world of comic books. In 2005, a new Red Hood arose to create chaos in Gotham – and it turned out that this Red Hood was actually a resurrected Jason Todd. An anomaly in the DC Universe caused by Superboy resulted in Jason coming back to life, but he was badly damaged – little more than a zombie who responded strictly through instinct. Found by Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Batman’s foe Ra’s Al Ghul, Jason was given tender care. Eventually, against her father’s command, Talia dunked Jason into the Lazarus Pit, which has the ability to restore the mostly dead to life. Jason was now truly reborn. However, the process also darkened his soul and brought the worst of him to the surface. When he discovered that Batman had not killed the Joker to avenge his death, Jason became Batman’s enemy – and adopted the RedHood as his new identity.

A 2010 mini-series went into great detail about Jason’s rebirth. Readers learned that Talia Al Ghul had acted on Jason’s behalf because she hoped restoring Jason might move Batman to care for her. But they also saw how she worked in the background to try to tame Jason after the Lazarus Pit brought out his demonic side.

Slyly manipulating him, she introduced him to underworld figures who could give him the training he would need to go up against Batman. Yet at the same time she was subtly encouraging his good side to break through. As a result, when Jason had the chance to kill the Joker, he failed to do so.

A little later, after Batman had killed her father, Talia encouraged Jason to attack him – not to kill Batman but to punish him by taking over Gotham. And this lead to Jason’s career as Red Hood, which eventually veered off into heroics rather than villainy.

With the launch of DC’s New 52 project, Red Hood’s origin was revised yet again. Fans learned more about Jason’s no-good father and drug-addicted mother, and how they affected his childhood. But more surprisingly, they learned that the Joker was responsible for Jason’s career. He knew that when Dick Grayson struck out on his own, the Batman would need a new sidekick. He carefully plotted and arranged for that sidekick to be Jason Todd – solely so that he could then kill him and cause Batman untold grief and guilt. The Joker couldn’t foresee Jason’s resurrection, of course, but he was thrilled that the lad took on his old identity of Red Hood – even if Jason did eventually fall back on his good-guy ways.

While the first Red Hood was clearly a villain, the second version of the character has had a much more complicated and ambiguous path. It’s that complexity – and the character’s strong connection to the Batman mythos – that makes Red Hoodsuch a compelling and intriguing character.

Are you a fan of the ambivalently-heroic Red Hood? For more comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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