My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I own both volumes of the original collections of this story. Vol. 1 includes Batman 635 to 641 and there is a new edition of this title that collects both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Batman 645 to 650 and Batman Annual #1) in one book. I will be reviewing both of these volumes separately. Just cuz.
Be warned, some spoilery stuff in this one folks. Judd Winick proved with Under the Hood Vol. 1 that he can not only can write a great story, but one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. I couldn’t help but think of Brubaker’s epic run on Captain America and the birth of the Winter Soldier (equally epic) when re-reading this one for Red week. Judd introduces us to the new and improved Red Hood in this kick-ass Bat-tale.
So who is it that’s under the hood? Jason Todd? Clayface? The Joker? Alfred? Barbara Gordon? Tom Selleck? Winick does a great job of making you wonder right up to the big reveal. And yep, it’s Tom Selleck….I mean, Jason Todd. Killed off in a vote by fans (I voted to kill him) years ago, Jason was one of those characters that everyone once thought of as dead-dead. Like permanently. Like Bucky and Uncle Ben, never to return. Well he’s back, and I actually like him this time around.
This whole book pretty much revolves around Batman’s investigation into who’s wearing the red hood, an all-out war with the crime lord Black Mask, and the big reveal. A few of the high points for me in this one were Batman and Nightwing’s toe to toe with an Amazo android, Bats paying visits to other Justice League alumni that have returned from the dead, Jason’s reunion with Mr. J, and the final showdown between Batman and the Red Hood. Winick did such a good job building suspense, voicing other long-established heroes, making me like Black Mask, and finally in telling an awesome Bat-story. The only parts I didn’t really care for were the portions involving Onyx, a character I never really liked, and a couple of other minor elements that I think DC editors made Winick shoe-horn into this story for continuity purposes with other Bat-titles at the time this was first published.
Doug Mahnke’s art is fantastic and consistent. The only weak spot was issue 640. Paul Lee was the fill-in artist on this one and just doesn’t do it for me. Sorry Paul. Matt Wagner provides all of the cover art for this collection and man does he kick ass. Love his stuff.
This one’s a favorite of mine and it’s one you should definitely check out if you’re a Bat-fan.