Title: Batman: Under The Red Hood
Author: Judd Winick
Illustrators: Doug Mahnke, Paul Lee, Shane Davis, Eric Battle, Tom Nguyen, Cam Smith, Rodney Ramos
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Format: Paperback (384 pages)
Review: *screams in vigilante* Okay, this was VERY hard to write because I have lots of thoughts about this story, and Jason Todd, and it was hard to organize the thoughts I included here coherently so…sorry in advance if this doesn’t read well.
First things first, it’s been nearly 10 years since Under the Red Hood came out and there’s some stuff you should know going into this story.
(Most of these events are older than I am so I’m not considering them spoilers. Also I’m not going into lots of detail).
- Jason Todd was taken in by Bruce Wayne AKA Batman
- Jason became Robin
- Jason died
- Magic comic book stuff happened
- Jason is alive again
- More stuff happens
Enter, Under The Red Hood.
I’ve always kinda knew who Jason was and how he came to be Red Hood but the first time I really got to experience who Jason is, and who he used to be, was when I watched the movie (Under the Red Hood) based on this story. The movie is quite good and does a great job of telling this story without changing the core story. And yes, that is Jensen Ackles voicing Red Hood/Jason*.
*I have lots of thoughts about that, but they don’t seem relevant to this review/post.
After having watched the movie (a few times) I knew the story I would read pretty well, but there was quite a lot that was left out of the movie. Having all of the original elements of this story added a lot of depth to it and to the characters.
Overall the story is really well done and compelling. It’s a story about anger, revenge and grief. It also questions what justice looks like, who gets to decide what justice is, and how far is too far when dispensing justice. And it doesn’t provide answers, which I love. It’s up to the reader to decide who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s the villain and who’s the hero*.
*I have lots of thoughts on those things but that’s also a very complicated conversation and not suited to a book review.
Moving on from the plot it was also nice to get to see Jason running around being a mouthy vigilante and egging Bruce on (we don’t get a lot of that in the movie). We also get amazing panels such as this one:
I was already in love with Jason but this panel really reinforced that love.
If you’re even remotely interested in Jason you have to read this story. It gives you enough background to understand Jason, Bruce, their relationship and how they ended up where they are in this story without being overwhelming.
The most daunting thing for me about comics is just the sheer volume of material. And figuring out what you want to read and what you ‘need’ to read in order to understand what’s going on in the stories you want to read is well, difficult to say the least.
I’m lucky and have an amazing friend who’s helped me with all that (mostly she just throws things at me and tells me to read them, but she also tells me when something isn’t important to what I’m interested in). Having her help has also made me realize that if you’re confused about something, you really should just move on cause 99% of the time the answer is complicated and in the end, not helpful.
So yeah. If you like books that explore anger, justice, and characters that are dramatic, and committed to doing what they want and don’t care what other people think*, you should read this book. Additionally, the art is rather good. Art can make or break comics and thankfully the art for Under The Red Hood is quite good. There’s lots of art of Jason running around that is NOT great and it’s just the worst. You can’t have nice things in comics but I really don’t think it’s asking too much for Jason to at least be pretty when he’s running around causing mayhem.
*Jason does care, but like, he’s still going to do what he wants.
Anyways…I just really love Jason Todd and he deserves so much better than what DC has put him through.
Up next in my Jason Todd deep dive I’ll be reading Red Hood: The Lost Days (which I know is going to be emotionally devastating) and then I’ll be reading the Omnibus of Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011-2014). I’m very excited for this because Jason and Roy Harper are running around together and I don’t care what DC or anyone else says, they are MARRIED. Not super stoked for how Kori is drawn in this series, but I’ll be sure to discuss that when I review the Omnibus.
The image above sums up the movie, the book, and Jason and Bruce’s relationship really quite well.