Bruce, I forgive you for not saving me. But why?

Why on God’s Earth is HE still alive Ignoring what he’s done in the past. Blindly, stupidly, disregarding the entire graveyards he’s filled, the thousands who have suffered, the friends he’s crippled.

You know, I thought…I thought I’d be the last person you’d ever let him hurt.

Judd Winick, Under the Red Hood

It’s another comic book!

“Under the Red Hood” is a book that speaks to a special place in my soul. I was a small boy in the early 90s, the perfect time to be a fan of “Batman: The Animated Series” and teen Robin, as he was presented in that show. Connecting with Robins is kind of my thing, even though I could be the same age as Batman in most interpretations? Oh well. Guess we associate with who we associate.

Anyway, I connect with different Robins for different reasons. The first Robin, Dick Grayson, because I’m the firstborn son in my family with a “strict” father. And Jason Todd? The second Robin?

Well, let’s just say I’m still working on my anger management issues.

A new villain has turned up in Gotham’s underworld, both running the drugs away from the schools and children, while also taking payments to keep up his war with the new crime boss, Black Mask, who set himself up after a citywide war. Meanwhile, Batman, tired and broken, is doing his best to find the

Anyway, this Batman story takes place deep in both the aftermath of one big story (War Games) and the beginnings of another (Infinite Crisis) so it’s not a story that can be read easily. A solid understanding of Batman lore is also required, because if you only thought there was one Robin EVER…well, then this story loses some of its impact.

It’s a tale of fatherhood, loss, grief, and rage, all manifested in the hands of one young man yearning to prove himself to a father who was never really there. This is a book I always forget about, and a tale that sticks with me long after. Winick’s characterizations are solid, right on the point, and his Black Mask is still my favorite interpretation of the character. Mahnke’s linework is what drives the story forward, with a stylized Batman matching the not-so-gothic architecture of Gotham. Instead, he focuses on Gotham’s gross, gritty side. The other accompanying artists are also there (with Shane Davis turning in a pained final issue of the book) but really, it’s ALL Mahnke here.

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