The Red Hood is an alias assumed by several criminals in the Batman Mythos. While rarely having a consistent modus operandi between incarnations, the figure is often leader (or figurehead) of the Red Hood Gang.
The First Red Hood
- Main article: The Joker
Pre-Crisis (Golden-Silver Age)
The Red Hood first appeared in Detective Comics #168 "The Man Behind the Red Hood (February 1951). In it, Joker attempted to relive his time as the Red Hood after Batman and Robin held a presentation at a college on how to do detective sleuthing, although a gardener had managed to ambush him and stole his costume. Batman eventually stopped the Red Hood, although he deduced the man who used the costume was an imposter. Joker then revealed that he had been the Red Hood of the past, and explained that he had intended to steal over a million dollars from his boss at the Ace Chemicals Plant and then retire, but then Batman interfered. He ultimately survived falling into the vat via a special apparatus in his Red Hood that allowed him to retain oxygen and swam all the way back. When he got back to his home, and removed his Red Hood, he noticed that his body had been discolored from exposure to the chemicals, and decided to adopt the identity of The Joker.
New Earth (Post-Crisis)
The Red Hood's origin was later revisited in Batman: The Killing Joke. Like in the above comic, the Joker was the Red Hood during that time, although it was revealed that he was not the sole holder of the identity (and in fact, was simply the latest to hold the title), and he had more sympathetic and tragic motivations for becoming it: A man named Jack had a pregnant wife, Jeannie, and they lived in a rundown tenement on the far side of Gotham City. In a desperate effort for money to provide for his family due to his dream job of being a comedian that turned out poorly, Jack resorted to a life of crime and placed himself in mob affairs. One night, the mob hired two men to kill Jack. The men let Jack do their wishes under the alias The Red Hood. His costume consisted of a large domed red helmet and a red cape. During the robbery, the plant's security guards spot the intruders and shot the other criminals dead. The engineer tried to flee, but Batman appeared and cornered him on the plant's catwalk. Terrified, he jumped off the catwalk into the chemical basin to escape, swam to freedom, and survived because of a special breathing apparatus that was built into the helmet. The toxins in the vat permanently and grotesquely disfigured him, and turned his hair green, his skin white, and his lips red. Upon discovering that, Jack went insane, and became The Joker. On a related note, how Jack discovered the deformity was altered from the above comic, as he was shown to have discovered it almost immediately afterwards, and was even shown to be in agony from exposure to the chemicals as well as confused as to why he burned and itched all over before he noticed his new appearance. After they believed Jack to be dead, the mob then hired a corrupt police officer to take his wife out. He succeeded, and Jack's wife, along with their unborn baby, burned to death in an alleged "accidental" electric fire. That all occured as Edward Nashton watched in horror. Jack became The Joker and formed a brief alliance with Nashton to search for the corrupt cop who killed his wife. Strangely enough, Joker himself was reluctant to admit that this iteration of his story was definitive, and stated: "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!"
The only other occasion that the Joker ever took up the identity of the Red Hood again was after his latest scheme had been thwarted. After he sought to restore confidence in his abilities, the Joker donned the domed helmet and tuxedo of the Red Hood again and committed a crime in Batman #450 (1990).
Four years later, the Red Hood costume finally ended up behind glass on display in the Batcave, as glimpsed in Batman #506.
Prime Earth (New 52)
In the New 52 continuity, the Red Hood was already a violent anarchistic nihilist before his fall into chemicals. His incarnation of the Red Hood Gang was largely composed of normal Gotham citizens which he used blackmail to force into his gang. Red Hood's motivations revolved around destruction and nihilism which he believed were the only truths of the world, especially Gotham.
He became a recurring enemy of the vigilante who would come to become Batman who proved himself to be a persisting thorn in his side. In order to combat the supposed hope which the vigilante was bringing, Red Hood started stealing chemicals to turn the ACE Chemicals Plant into a giant chemical cocktail bomb. The plan was foiled however by Batman which resulted in a fire at the chemical plant. After a fight with the Batman, rather than surrendering the Red Hood willingly leaped off of a cat-walk into a vat of boiling chemicals which should have killed him.
Following this event, the corpse of the original Red Hood Gang leader was found in a metal barrel. This however was a man name William "Liam" Distal who the Joker's Red Hood is implied to have murdered to have stolen the identity of. Batman would go on to put the Red Hood cowl on display in the Batcave.
Harley Quinn briefly assumed the Red Hood alias during the Death of the Family event while pretending to be the Joker. Here Joker made her wear the costume to lure Batman to the ACE Chemicals Plant as the Joker spoke through a speaker hidden in the Red Hood helmet.
The Second Red Hood
- Main article: Jason Todd
Jason Todd, one of the Robins, was murdered by the Joker. When Superboy-Prime altered reality, Jason returned from the grave. After he was enraged that Batman didn't avenge him, Jason located the Joker, stole the Red Hood outfit (but not before he beat him brutally), and took up the mantle of the second Red Hood. He used aggression and fear to control strong gangs and the mob, and supposedly saved the city. Jason was then found out of his activities by Batman. They argued over their theories of crime-fighting through combat, and Jason eventually showed his face and confirmed Batman's suspicion.
Two different versions of the Red Hood appear in tie-in material to Batman: The Animated Series and the DC Animated Universe.
While never appearing in television shows, a version of the Red Hood was presented in the spin-off comics series Batman Adventures. The storyline was never resolved due to the series' cancellation, leaving the Red Hood's identity a mystery. Additionally, the Joker was established to have not used the identity prior to his first encounter with Batman.
The Red Hood here was presented as being a powerful criminal-mastermind with global connections who was the secret benefactor of Roman Sionis AKA the Black Mask, allowing him to become a crime-lord in order for him to act as an agent for her. Along with this Red Hood was shown to be the secretive employer of Andrea Beaumont. After the story's cancellation, writer Dan Slott talked about how Red Hood was going to be a major character in the DC Universe deeply connected to several different characters.
In 2013, Slott finally revealed that Red Hood's real identity was intended to be Victoria Beaumont, the mother of Andrea Beaumont who was presented as being deceased in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. It would be explained that Victoria Beaumont was the true leader of the Valestra Mob which strangely enough would have made her the Joker's former boss. Victoria would have been revealed to have faked her own death and fled to Europe but after discovering how Valestra murdered her husband in her absence prompting Andrea to turn into an insane super-villain, Victoria would take up the alias of Red Hood and use her criminal talents and resources to reclaim Gotham's criminal-underworld out of vengeance.
- Main article: Jason Todd (DC Animated Universe)
This comic series integrated the moniker of Red Hood as having been used by a Gotham City gang known as The Wolves. The Wolves made new members serve as Red Hood look-outs who'd distract from their own crimes but be in positions of high danger, all working as an allusion to Little Red Riding Hood. One Red Hood in-particular died on the job, with that hood being the brother of Jason Todd.
Jason wound up seeking revenge on the Wolves, leading to him being taken in by Batman. Jason's brutality and murderous intent lead to them falling out however and four-years later, Jason decided to take up the moniker of The Red Hood as a means of making prey the predator.
- Main article: Red Hood (Dozierverse)
In Other Media
- Main article: Red Hood (The Brave and the Bold)
The Red Hood appeared in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode, "Deep Cover for Batman!" and was voiced by Jeff Bennett. That version was a heroic alternate reality version of The Joker. Like the Joker, that Red Hood was disfigured after he fell into a chemical vat at the Ace Chemical Plant. In his case, he was already a superhero and was actively dropped in by Owlman. However, his sanity was said to have been "bent, but not broken." Red Hood then tried to rally his world's heroes (alternate versions of the villains from the "normal" universe) against the Injustice Syndicate, but they were defeated. Red Hood escaped and tried to use a device to recruit help from an alternate Earth (Batman's Universe), but he was captured by the Syndicate.
After Batman was attacked by his alternate-reality doppelganger, Owlman (sent to Batman's universe on a reconnaissance mission), he journeyed to Red Hood's dimension. During scenes in that episode, the Red Hood's face was shown, but was in shadow, which showed a bit of green hair, white skin, and a wide grin that clearly resembled the Joker. After the heroes were freed and the villains were defeated, Red Hood thanked Batman and hoped that his counterpart could return the favor. Sure enough, in the next episode, "Game Over for Owlman," Batman was forced to team-up with the Joker in order to defeat Owlman, who impersonated Batman and ruined his reputation in his absence.
That Red Hood was shown to be an extremely capable fighter, and was able to hold his own against multiple members of the Injustice Syndicate. In addition, he wielded projectile weapons that were shaped like spades (a reference to his alternate universe counterpart's playing card motif).
- Main article: Red Hood Gang (Gotham)
Red Hood appeared in the DC Animated Film based on the Batman: Under the Hood storyline. Here, it was mentioned that several criminals had worn the guise of the Red Hood besides the Joker and Jason Todd. A flashback also implies that the Joker (or rather, the man who became the Joker) was forced into committing the heist.
A Red Hood appears as part of Joker's army of villains. Their costume is mainly inspired by the one used by Joker in The Killing Joke.
Outside of the Joker's presence in the plot (and his psychiatric evaluation), the Red Hood was alluded to on the crime-board in the Batcave, which was listed under the second row, as well as on a separate billboard. According to the information, in addition to the Red Hood's role in the Ace Chemicals Heist, the Red Hood also had undergone several daring heists and major scores. His schemes were detrimental enough to Gotham City for Mayor Hill to make the apprehension of Red Hood a high priority for the GCPD. He also struck again sometime later by taking $300K worth of money, which lead to Kale to promise to unmask Red Hood, although some notes on the crime-board indicated that Batman wasn't sure if that was actually Red Hood who did it. His actions ended up costing Gotham $1,000,000, at least at the time that the report was made. Commissioner Loeb later claimed that Red Hood was "run out of the city." Batman also speculated whether Red Hood was in fact several criminals who used the moniker. Sometime after that, the Red Hood case went cold.
- Main article: Arkham Knight (Arkhamverse)
After being unmasked during his confrontation with Batman, Jason began to realize that Bruce was truly sorry for what had happened to him with the Joker. Jason tracked Batman after he surrendered to Scarecrow's demands. Jason, as the Red Hood, disarmed Scarecrow just as he prepared to kill Bruce and then freed him with a well-aimed shot to his restraints, and allowed the latter to subdue Scarecrow with his own Fear Toxin.
Later on, Red Hood began his work on taking down Roman Sionis, Black Mask; and interrogated several of his lower class henchmen. Red Hood managed to take down a gun shipment, learned that Sionis was holed up in his office and started on his way there. Arriving, he easily dispatched the goons and cornered Black Mask. Sionis continuously pleaded with Red Hood for his life, and offered him drugs, money, weapons, and even promised to leave Gotham and go anywhere that he wanted. Red Hood's response: "How about you go to Hell!" Before he left, Jason added: "Say hi to Joker for me." before he set off into the streets.