Under the Hood

Author: Judd Winick
Artists: Doug Mahnke and Paul Lee
Titan Books
RRP 7.99
ISBN 1 84576 199 5
Available 23 January 2006

While battling new criminal chieftains raiding his city, Batman is confronted with a face from the past - or rather, a hidden face from the past. Welcome the return of the Red Hood. With the murderous Black Mask controlling the Gotham City underworld, what will this villainous addition to the Dark Knight's rogues gallery mean when all is said and done...?

Under the Hood is a pretty entertaining read, which is something of a small miracle when you consider that the main narrative is stretched to breaking point. Red Hood returns to Gotham City but, as we discover from the opening chapter, this Red Hood is known to Batman, and he's surprised by who is behind the mask. The rest of this collection is told as a flashback detailing Red Hood's return to Gotham City, until the moment Batman unmasks him.

Thankfully this collection doesn't stretch the suspense out for too long - we discover who Red Hood is half way through this graphic novel. Thank goodness this wasn't an "all is revealed on the last page" affair. Although, Batman doesn't discover who Red Hood really is until the final pages.

To keep the story ticking along there are many guest appearances from the DC Universe. Mr Freeze and Joker pop up briefly, as do Superman and Green Arrow.

The artwork is pretty impressive. Although, the cover shows the old style of headgear worn by Red Hood, which is totally different to his new WWE wrestlers style mask.

An entertaining, if somewhat drawn out affair, which will certainly not be a disappointment to Batman fans.

Nick Smithson

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