Batman faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante, one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option. And when the Joker falls in the balance between the two, hard truths are revealed and old wounds are reopened.
The animated adventure Batman: Under the Red Hood
pits the Dark Knight against a trio of his most fearsome enemies while attempting to uncover the true identity of the vigilante known as the Red Hood. Adapted by Judd Winick from his own comic book story arc, Under the Hood
, as well as the late-'80s serial A Death in the Family
, Under the Red Hood
is a fairly dark affair, with considerable amounts of violence, not the least of which is the act that gets the story in motion--the murder of Jason Todd, better known as the second Robin, by the Joker (voiced by John DiMaggio). The death puts Batman (Bruce Greenwood) into a guilt-ridden tailspin, but there's little time for mourning, as the arrival of the Red Hood (Jensen Ackles of Supernatural
) puts the Caped Crusader on the defensive. Together with original Robin Dick Grayson (Neil Patrick Harris), now operating as Nightwing, his search for the Red Hood brings him in contact with the Joker--who, as DC Comics fans remember, started his criminal career as the Red Hood and is portrayed here as a violent psychopath à la Frank Miller's depictions--as well as the immortal Ra's al Ghul (Jason Isaacs) and Gotham's leading underworld kingpin, the fearsome Black Mask (Wade Williams). The confrontations between Batman and his foes are explosive but never overpower the dramatic weight of the story, which hinges on themes of regret, revenge, and redemption. Artwork is streamlined and expressive, while the scripting by Winick distills the essence of the comics into an action-packed hour. --Paul Gaita