Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Batman: Under the Red Hood Review

Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Doug Mahnke, Shane Davis, Paul Lee & Eric Battle

After spending time reviewing other series I finally come back to doing my Batman reviews, as I plan on reviewing all the remaining key Batman from this till just before the start of the New 52. This is also my seventh review on the series with my last review being on Batman: War Games Act Three: EndGame.


When the mysterious Red Hood starts taking over Black Mask's turf it draws the attention of Batman, and Batman can't help but notice something familiar about the Red Hood.



This was a fantastic story, and in my opinion one of the best Batman story in the last decade. Judd Winick did a tremendous job of producing a story that wasn't just suspenseful, but interesting, and exciting. I also loved how Winick opened it with Batman discovering the identity of the Red Hood, then flashing back before the reader knows, making the built up to the reveal much more suspenseful. The drama, and action was also handled very well, and Winick handled the interaction between Batman, and other character's perfectly, showing a fun jumpy Nightwing (Dick Grayson), and a brooding Batman. I also loved how Winick showed that Batman had a clear idea of who the Red Hood was, but that he didn't want to believe it. Winick also did a brilliant job with the crime element, which is needed for a good Batman story, and overall his work on this story was amazing.

The art on this story was mainly done by Doug Mahnke, with Shane Davis, Paul Lee, and Eric Battle doing stand in issues. Mahnke's art was amazing, and wonderfully detailed. The way he drew all the character's was brilliant, but the Red Hood had to be the one that I liked the most, which was good considering he's the central character. Mahnke also did a great job of showing emotion, as you could easily tell what the character's were thinking, and I found this especially interesting for Black Mask who's face doesn't make that easy. The action was also handled perfectly, adding drama, as well as more suspense, which really helped the tone of the story. The layout was also brilliant, adding more depth. The other artists all did a great job, and although I would have preferred Mahnke doing all the art, there contributions were nice, with Davis' being the most impressive of the three.

Before getting to talking about Red Hood himself, I thought I'd talk about the trouble he was causing, and more importantly how Black Mask reacted to this. The way Black Mask's been hit just after War Games was very interesting, and I loved seeing the mighty falling so fast. I also liked how he had a gangster mentality about the entire scenario, by initially wanting him dead, to wanting him to work for him, to eventually just wanting rid of him one way or another, and it made for some intense, and amusing sequences, which were extremely entertaining.

Now Black Mask wasn't the only person that Red Hood was messing with, as Batman was also all over the place when it came to this character, especially when it came to his biggest fear about who he might be. In fact he was that worried that he went to both Green Arrow, and Superman asking how they managed to come back from the dead. It was however his conversation with Green Arrow that interested me the most, as you get to see a more humble side to Batman, which is very rare. Besides all this I loved how Winick showed the conflict in Batman's thoughts, without making them obvious.

Now I come to Red Hood himself, and here is where the spoilers lie till the end of the review. Most people will however know who the Red Hood is whether you've read this story or not, with only new comic book fans probably not knowing, so it won't be a surprise. Anyway the Red Hood was revealed to be none other than Jason Todd, the second Robin who was killed by the Joker. Now I loved this, and I've loved the character since (especially when Winick's wrote him), as I never liked Jason as Robin, whereas I do like this new Jason, who's much cooler, and less whiny, and rebellious. I also loved how there was emotion in this character, who couldn't take in the fact that Batman never avenged him, which added more depth, and showed that he did care.

This story would also have a story showing the Red Hood's origin following his death, till this story, which featured in Batman Annual #25. Now this was handled very differently than the rest of the story, but in a good way, as it showed how Jason managed to rise from the dead, and how he became the Red Hood, showing emotion, and passion, in a very subtle way. It was however not quite as good as the main story, but none the less a great addition, which makes the story feel more whole.

Final Verdict

This was a brilliant story, and one of the best Batman stories in the last decade, being in my opinion slightly underrated. The story itself was very interesting, with some amazing action, whilst being very suspenseful. The mystery of the Red Hood itself was also amazing on my first read through, not knowing who he was. Due to all this it's easy to recommend this story, as it's one that any comic book fan should read, and especially if you've been enjoying Red Hood and the Outlaws, but have never read this.

Rating: 5/5

The next book I'll be reviewing from this series will be Batman: War Crimes.

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