Off My Mind: Batman Zero Year and the Red Hood Gang Leader

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Posted by G-Man (29390 posts) - - Show Bio

Batman: Zero Year is underway and we're discovering what happened when Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham City after spending years away, training to become the skilled fighter/detective we know today. As we witness the birth of the legend that will become Batman, Gotham is being terrorized by the Red Hood Gang.

The Red Hood Gang has existed, to some extent, in previous comics. With more of a focus on the gang, their activity and the mysterious leader, we can't help but wonder about his identity and if he's supposed to be who we think he is?

There may be some minor spoilers below but only if you haven't been reading Zero Year for some reason.

Originally, it was the Joker who was the leader of the Red Hood Gang. Wearing a giant pill-shaped helmet and a cape, in his final robbery at the Ace Chemical Plant, the leader fell into a vat of chemicals which resulted in the birth of the Joker.

In Alan Moore's THE KILLING JOKE, we saw the man who would become the Joker was not quite the cruel and calculating man the Joker is today. Getting involved with the gang, this man was told they all took turns being the "leader" and wearing the costume to throw off the authorities should they get caught. Basically, he was a patsy.

Then his encounter with Batman and the GCPD resulted in him falling in the chemicals once again. Of course the flashback/memories of the man Joker used to be could have been false according to Joker as his memory sometimes gets muddled.

In Zero Year, the leader is just that, he is the absolute man in charge. Based on history, it seems we're supposed to assume he will become Joker. He just doesn't quite feel like he could be the same man.

Granted, we're talking the New 52. Things can change. As much as THE KILLING JOKE is praised, the idea of Joker previously being a nebbish…loser just felt wrong. Of course it could be the chemicals that twisted his mind and transformed him into the Joker. But that goes into the questioning of what is Joker's motivation and why. That's a completely other topic. Whether or not it was purely the chemicals that caused Joker to be as cruel as he is seems too easy.

That being said, perhaps there is something to the idea of Joker being the guy in control that we've been seeing. If that was the case, it leads to some other implications. The leader of the gang has mentioned recalling when Bruce's parents were killed. How much older than Bruce would he be? Has anyone ever really thought about the possible age difference between Batman and Joker? Was Joker always a resident in Gotham? Even with white skin, wouldn't there be someone that would recognize his facial features?

There's also the fact that the gang itself exists. Joker may have some henchmen from time to time but he rarely keeps so many around. The leader told Bruce he formed the gang because people were afraid of random violence like the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne.

"…at the end of the day, what people are afraid of is the nothing of it, Bruce. The randomness. The empty center. Stare into it and try to find meaning, you'll go mad. All you can do is fear, and survive."

Joker's never been one to have an actual plan or motivation for his actions to this extent. He doesn't normally give speeches quite like this, even though he did have quite a bit to say in THE KILLING JOKE. Would he have the initiative to form a gang in order to terrorize the citizens of Gotham? And for what reason? The leader has been pretty organized and structured, something Joker isn't exactly known for. Joker is more about the quick and big results. He wouldn't work with someone like Philip Kane just to get his hands on some Wayne Enterprises tech.

Another thing to note is when Bruce had an encounter with him in the blimp and was almost unmasked himself, he did manage to get a DNA sample of the leader.

We would imagine Batman's managed to get a sample from the Joker during their fights over the years. Even if there wasn't any records to who the DNA belonged to, he would be able to match the DNA of the Red Hood Gang Leader to Joker's.

Is Joker the leader of the Red Hood Gang? History suggests we should believe this is the case. Scott Snyder has earned our trust when it comes to Batman and the other characters. This question just has us guessing. We're used to expecting the unexpected, especially with some of the liberties creators have been allowed in the New 52. Snyder seems more rooted with tradition in regards to the characters. Something just feels a little off. Could it just be a matter of the inevitable chemical bath that changes the Red Hood Gang Leader's personality and M.O.?

There's still plenty more left to Zero Year. We shouldn't try to predict what Snyder will throw at us but something smells a little fishy with the leader.

Staff
#1 Posted by TobenRacicot (78 posts) - - Show Bio

looking forward to what Snyder deals out in batman 24

#2 Posted by AllStarSuperman (15646 posts) - - Show Bio

I hope he is. I hope there's not some twist that its riddler or Philip himself it something like that.

Online
#3 Posted by Sawcesome (124 posts) - - Show Bio

I haven't read it in a while, but have the Red Hood Leader and Riddler been in the same place at the same time yet? I honestly can't remember.

I also wonder if the "empty center" is supposed to be a reference to Simon Hurt (I only think it's a reference; I don't actually think the leader is Hurt).

#4 Edited by iceslick (709 posts) - - Show Bio

@g_man: I don't know...Tony, he still talks like a less cynical version of The Joker to me. I even remember him sounding different in Batman The Brave and The Bold and still happened to be The Joker from a parallel universe. I think sounds off intentionally. But I have thought of Scott Snyder of tricking us. So, you could be right.

Edit: I just rechecked the episode and it turns out Batman didn't know a Red Hood in his universe. So, yeah it can be different this time.

#5 Posted by TDK_1997 (13666 posts) - - Show Bio

I really hope that the Red Hood Gang Leader isn't the Joker or even connected to him.

#6 Posted by longbowhunter (5831 posts) - - Show Bio

Forget the Red Hood leader. I wanna know more about Pow Wow Smith, Indian Lawman.

#7 Posted by Pokeysteve (7006 posts) - - Show Bio

Hahaha the only Red Hood I could ever take seriously was Jason. The rest look like pencil eraser head man. Look at that guy lol looks like a cat that got his head stuck in a jar.

#8 Posted by TakeLuutzen (79 posts) - - Show Bio

Maybe the Red Hood Leader dies and Joker turns out to be a henchman, just like The Killing Joke. Scott Snyder, in my opinion, always keeps close to the original continuity..

#9 Posted by bennyq (405 posts) - - Show Bio

Snyder said on Fat Man on Batman that Zero Year was about the Joker becoming who he is. He didn't mention if he is the red hood leader or not, but Joker will be involved in the story.

#10 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29330 posts) - - Show Bio

The point of Joker being a "nebbish loser" in The Killing Joke is that he's what Batman's always tried to save, the common man. Which makes Joker all the more horrifying. There's nothing wrong with that.

#11 Posted by DarthShap (874 posts) - - Show Bio

@g_man:

The Killing Joke is a comic book filled with mirrors. It even takes place in a House of Mirrors. The Joker's origin story is meant to reflect Batman's. Batman was a rich kid who lost his mind when his parents were killed so it makes sense that Joker would be a poor guy who lost his wife and kid and went insane as a result of it.

The chemicals had nothing to do with it really. The "one bad day" did this to him, just like it transformed Bruce Wayne into Batman. If the chemicals had something to do with it, the comparison just would not work as well. Basically, the chemicals are just there to illustrate the difference between who he was and who he has become, exactly like Batman's costume.

I really hope the Red Hood Leader turns out to be someone else because him being the Joker just would not work as well thematically. The transformation from who he was to the Joker needs to reflect the transformation from Bruce Wayne to Batman. The 1951 original origin story was fine but it would really be a shame to go from something as elaborate as what Moore did with it to something so lame and meaningless.

#12 Posted by TheManInTheShoe (3771 posts) - - Show Bio

I wouldn't be surprised if it was Joker but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't.

#13 Posted by doombot890 (176 posts) - - Show Bio

It's Thomas Wayne!

#14 Posted by cbishop (6301 posts) - - Show Bio

I haven't been reading this, but my initial thought was Alfred hiding his Outsider face, but I don't really think that. "Court" could be italicized to emphasize the Hood's tones and inflections, but it could also be a hint to the readers that this guy has something to do with the Court of Owls. The Court is supposed to go back much further than Zero Year, but the Red Hood Gang idea seems to be in keeping with the Owls, and if they weren't, why wouldn't the Court take them down?

I've never liked the chemical bath origin of the Joker. I'd really rather the guy in the Hood taking the dip turn out to be Clayface or even Plastic Man- one result (clay powers/stretchiness) instead of several (white skin, red lips [just more skin btw], green hair, yellow nails and teeth). The Joker makes no sense from that origin. It would make much more sense that he was joking about it.

#15 Posted by cbishop (6301 posts) - - Show Bio

@g_man: P.S. Your writing is getting much better. Kudos.

#16 Posted by EvilPenguin543 (167 posts) - - Show Bio

I hope the Red Hood Leader doesn't turn out to be the Joker; one of my favorite aspects of him is that he can't remember how he came to be the Joker. However, a variant cover for one of the upcoming issues (it might be #24) shows Red Hood Leader falling into a vat of toxic chemicals.

#17 Posted by scouts1998 (523 posts) - - Show Bio

it's me HAHAHAHAHAHA

also can't wait for batman #32 (should be last issue of zero year) and 24 of course

#18 Posted by Lvenger (15969 posts) - - Show Bio

The point of Joker being a "nebbish loser" in The Killing Joke is that he's what Batman's always tried to save, the common man. Which makes Joker all the more horrifying. There's nothing wrong with that.

@g_man:

The Killing Joke is a comic book filled with mirrors. It even takes place in a House of Mirrors. The Joker's origin story is meant to reflect Batman's. Batman was a rich kid who lost his mind when his parents were killed so it makes sense that Joker would be a poor guy who lost his wife and kid and went insane as a result of it.

The chemicals had nothing to do with it really. The "one bad day" did this to him, just like it transformed Bruce Wayne into Batman. If the chemicals had something to do with it, the comparison just would not work as well. Basically, the chemicals are just there to illustrate the difference between who he was and who he has become, exactly like Batman's costume.

I really hope the Red Hood Leader turns out to be someone else because him being the Joker just would not work as well thematically. The transformation from who he was to the Joker needs to reflect the transformation from Bruce Wayne to Batman. The 1951 original origin story was fine but it would really be a shame to go from something as elaborate as what Moore did with it to something so lame and meaningless.

I absolutely agree with both these statements. The crux of the Joker's character is that not only is he a failure of Batman's efforts on his mission to save Gotham, he is also a twisted mirror of who Batman is. One bad day turned him into who he is just as one bad day started Bruce down his path. They're reflections on each other and it's villains like this that bring out the best confrontation with the hero. Despite me liking some of Snyder's work such as Court of Owls and Superman Unchained, I do feel his recent Batman work has suffered from stale storytelling and a lack of thematic elements.

If this is a hinted Joker origin, it removes the mystery of the character or to quote a no longer present Viner "There was nothing before the Joker, there was a man who had no yet become. It was a chrysalis state. It is like telling a butterfly that it was once a caterpillar in a cocoon. That no longer matters, because it is a butterfly now. The Joker exists. That is what matters to him. The past is just something to play with, it holds no merit. Nothing does to the Joker." That sums up what the Joker is more than what Snyder has done.

#19 Posted by CuddleBear (819 posts) - - Show Bio

Everyone should have an origin story... EXCEPT THE JOKER!!!!

#20 Posted by SupBatz (1456 posts) - - Show Bio

" Granted, we're talking the New 52. Things can change. As much as THE KILLING JOKE is praised, the idea of Joker previously being a nebbish…loser just felt wrong. "

I very much disagree. The ambiguity in the Joker's origin was the charm of it. The Joker may have been a pathetic loser, or a ruthless madman. He could have been anyone. And anybody could have become him. It just would have needed one bad day.

Snyder's Zero Year has been okay, so far. But I really do not like that we're seeing someone who is presumably to become the Joker in such a definitive, concrete way.

#21 Posted by Highball792 (17 posts) - - Show Bio

I hope that if the Red Hood leader turns out to be Joker, which I'm hoping doesn't happen, we don't get treated to yet another retelling of him falling into a vat of acid...

Whoever he is, I hope that it's something nobody saw.

#22 Edited by knightofthechronicle (595 posts) - - Show Bio

I've always thought that the leader is Joker, but then again it would be such a cool plot twist if he wasn't Joker at all. Either way, I'm enjoying the arc soooooo much.

#23 Edited by Phaedrusgr (1639 posts) - - Show Bio
#24 Posted by War Killer (19473 posts) - - Show Bio

I actually want The Red Hood Leader to become the Joker, the guy's just as crazy brilliant as the Joker is, doing what he does for the heck of it and with no real rhyme or reason. The idea that even when Bruce got his DNA, the fact that the leader's life is a complete mystery just makes it easier to believe he'll become the Joker.

#25 Edited by DeathpooltheT1000 (9503 posts) - - Show Bio

It would be better if the leader is another guy and Batman belives is The Joker.

It would be The Joker screw with Batman and the fans, vintage Joker.

#26 Edited by TheCheeseStabber (7214 posts) - - Show Bio

So the fish is the leader?

#27 Edited by Nathaniel_Christopher (1484 posts) - - Show Bio

I agree with those who say the ambiguity behind Joker's origin is what was truly great about it, and it separated him from everyone else, while still being an important part of his character. As it is, I feel that the Red Hood leader's being focused upon too much, and while I can imagine it being Joker, I don't necessarily think it'll make for good storytelling.

#28 Posted by detective38 (135 posts) - - Show Bio

I very much disagree that the killing jokes take on joker being a loser that takes an acid bath and goes crazy doesnt make sense. He was a man that had his life collapse around him and had a complete mental breakdown it fits the character perfectly. Ive not liked zero year very much so far hope it improves

#29 Posted by Nefilim927 (357 posts) - - Show Bio

@sawcesome: Totally think that was a nod to Hurt and "the hole in things"

I don't know if it's just me but it seems like Snyder often uses little bits and pieces of memorable Batman lines from movies and other comics.

As far as the Red Hood leader's comment about Bruce's parents, he does say he was with his own foster parents at the time so I think they may be close in age. I was a little apprehensive about the Joker being the Red Hood but it makes sense so far and I doubt they will make it so clear cut and dry, I mean it is the Joker, I don't see him getting any kind of clear definitive origin.

#30 Posted by G-Man (29390 posts) - - Show Bio
Staff
#31 Posted by Wilbertus (293 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't mind writers trying to redefine characters and giving them alternative origin stories. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Red Hood leader turns out to be Joker. That being said, I really hope it isn't Joker. We just had Death of the Family and as much as I love the character, I would be much more interested in seeing some other villain getting the spotlight for now. It would feel like an easy way out: "oh the Joker is presumably dead, let's write about the past so we can bring him back to life." I am more interested in seeing Snyder's take on a different villain or even creating a new one for Batman to fight.

#32 Posted by tupiaz (1974 posts) - - Show Bio

@g_man:

The Killing Joke is a comic book filled with mirrors. It even takes place in a House of Mirrors. The Joker's origin story is meant to reflect Batman's. Batman was a rich kid who lost his mind when his parents were killed so it makes sense that Joker would be a poor guy who lost his wife and kid and went insane as a result of it.

The chemicals had nothing to do with it really. The "one bad day" did this to him, just like it transformed Bruce Wayne into Batman. If the chemicals had something to do with it, the comparison just would not work as well. Basically, the chemicals are just there to illustrate the difference between who he was and who he has become, exactly like Batman's costume.

I really hope the Red Hood Leader turns out to be someone else because him being the Joker just would not work as well thematically. The transformation from who he was to the Joker needs to reflect the transformation from Bruce Wayne to Batman. The 1951 original origin story was fine but it would really be a shame to go from something as elaborate as what Moore did with it to something so lame and meaningless.

This!

#33 Edited by Black_Arrow (1891 posts) - - Show Bio

The Joker orgin shoudnt be know, If it is a mystery it is better. And I think that Snyder wants to tell his origin and I dont like that. Also when he falls in the chemicals, I always consider that the moment something like in the moment that the bat entered to wayne manor, those two moments didnt created his craziness but molded it.

#34 Edited by Miss_Garrick (1747 posts) - - Show Bio

Is the portrait supposed to be Thomas and Martha Wayne?!? The woman has red hair! Does every woman in Gotham City have red hair? This implies way too much soap opera-esqe ideas, or did some red haired man donate at a fertility clinic in the past and now every red haired woman in Gotham is his biological daughter? Batgirl, Batwoman, and Poison Ivy are now long lost sisters, and apparently Martha is now a part of the family.

#35 Posted by kennybaese (1001 posts) - - Show Bio

@g_man On one thing in particular, the leader of the Red Hood Gang doesn't necessarily have to be older than Bruce in order to be able to remember his parents being killed. He even mentions that his foster parents put a new lock on the door after news of their death broke, implying that he was also a child when it happened.

If Snyder is trying to maintain the whole "The Joker is a mirror image of the Batman" thing, it would make sense that both the Joker and Bruce decided on their life missions as a result of an event in their childhoods. This is assuming, of course, that he is, in fact, the Joker.

Even if he turns out not to be, the mirror image thing still works. Many of Batman's greatest foes are mirror images of Bruce himself. Joker is a different version of the psychosis he developed as a result of his own "one bad day". Harvey Dent mirrors the dual lives he has to lead. Ra's al Ghul is what he would become if he went too far in his mission to destroy crime. This Red Hood leader is what Bruce could have become if he'd taken the wrong message from his parent's death, that chaos is the only thing that is real (a la the Joker in The Dark Knight).

#36 Edited by mattwing87 (410 posts) - - Show Bio

Snyder doesn't always stick to tradition. He completely changed Mr. Freeze. Making him seem more evil and making Nora his mother instead of his wife. He was at a Con in my city and when asked about it he did say he regrets changing Mr. Freeze but he felt there was not much to do with him in the New 52.

#37 Edited by 2cool4fun (1205 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't want joker to be red hood, i always loved how we had some kind of origin for joker, but never knew if it was true, and that is how it should stay. Knowing who and what joker is will just ruin it...

#38 Edited by DarthShap (874 posts) - - Show Bio

@kennyshat said:

If Snyder is trying to maintain the whole "The Joker is a mirror image of the Batman" thing, it would make sense that both the Joker and Bruce decided on their life missions as a result of an event in their childhoods. This is assuming, of course, that he is, in fact, the Joker.

Even if he turns out not to be, the mirror image thing still works. Many of Batman's greatest foes are mirror images of Bruce himself. Joker is a different version of the psychosis he developed as a result of his own "one bad day". Harvey Dent mirrors the dual lives he has to lead. Ra's al Ghul is what he would become if he went too far in his mission to destroy crime. This Red Hood leader is what Bruce could have become if he'd taken the wrong message from his parent's death, that chaos is the only thing that is real (a la the Joker in The Dark Knight).

No it would not work. Losing one's family is completely different from hearing about two strangers getting killed. The scene where the Red Hood Leader explains his origin story was great but only if it turns out he is not the Joker. In my opinion, the Joker's one bad day would need to be waaaaaayyyyy more personal than this.

I really hope the Joker turns out to be one of the Red Hood's victims. IMO, it would work a lot better.

#39 Edited by Shinjiro15 (29 posts) - - Show Bio

looking at the preview, It might jsut be the "highschool chemistry teacher" that Batman wants for the bat's head on the billboard. Joker is a chemist after all

#40 Edited by DarthShap (874 posts) - - Show Bio

@shinjiro15 said:

looking at the preview, It might jsut be the "highschool chemistry teacher" that Batman wants for the bat's head on the billboard. Joker is a chemist after all

Exactly what I was talking about. The Joker could most definitely be one of these blackmailed gang members, this chemistry teacher in particular. I did not know about the preview but it definitely would fit.

Having said that, it could be another red herring.

#41 Edited by inferiorego (20577 posts) - - Show Bio

I kind of hope the Red Hood Leader doesn't become the Joker and he does end up using one of his cronies to become the "patsy," who in turn becomes the Joker. That would be really cool, later down the road, to see the original Red Hood go at it with the Joker.

However, I'm sure Snyder will make it awesome, regardless of his story choices.

Staff
#42 Posted by Shinjiro15 (29 posts) - - Show Bio
#43 Edited by D_Knight (62 posts) - - Show Bio

Now that u mention...maybe the red hood gang is an extension of Mr. E. Nigma. if he is not the leader, the leader could be his pawn. Red hood MO of using infomation to control hench men and The riddler woukd be perturbed by the randomness of the wayne shooting.

#44 Posted by AllStarSuperman (15646 posts) - - Show Bio

I actually want The Red Hood Leader to become the Joker, the guy's just as crazy brilliant as the Joker is, doing what he does for the heck of it and with no real rhyme or reason. The idea that even when Bruce got his DNA, the fact that the leader's life is a complete mystery just makes it easier to believe he'll become the Joker.

this

I kind of hope the Red Hood Leader doesn't become the Joker and he does end up using one of his cronies to become the "patsy," who in turn becomes the Joker. That would be really cool, later down the road, to see the original Red Hood go at it with the Joker.

However, I'm sure Snyder will make it awesome, regardless of his story choices.

this is cool to, because seeing redhood in current times would be awesome.

Online
#45 Posted by JamDamage (1105 posts) - - Show Bio

doubt it's the Joker. I'm just hoping it's not someone that everyone thinks is lame. I think he's being drawn in that way to look like it's the Joker with him being all skinny, but that's just to obvious, which Snyder doesn't do. Still tho, this story is okay. It's not great. Not yet any how, and Killing Joke is one of those stories that I think never ever should have been touched. Killing Joke, and Dark Kight Returns are the stories were comic book marketing changed the demographic age. There were some stories that were a bit adult oriented, but those to stories were without a doubt not written for the younger audience. We saw a bullet hit someones head. There were a few swear words. Barbarra Gordon didn't just have her legs broke, I always believed she was raped as well, and Joker took pictures of this as well. Recently Grant Morrison and Kevin Smith had a discussion about the ending of the book, and if Batman actually killed Joker or not. A lot of us have wondered this. I know I questioned it. It's the brilliance of that book. In the end Batman did kill the Joker, and he also didn't kill the Joker. He did kill the Joker, but he also did not kill the Joker so the stories could continue. It was drawn in that way just for that reason, well, I think Babs was raped as well, and was drawn that way for that same reason. It's a sacred story, and even tho DC had a revamp, it's one of those stories I think should have never been changed. DKR is something else because it's the end of Batmans legacy, but Killing Joke is what most people consider the beginning of the Joker. "ONE BAD DAY".

#46 Posted by Nathaniel_Christopher (1484 posts) - - Show Bio
#47 Posted by Fantasgasmic (1064 posts) - - Show Bio

@miss_garrick: I thought it was brown, just looking a bit redder because of the glow of the fire.

#48 Posted by Shinjiro15 (29 posts) - - Show Bio

@d_knight said:

Now that u mention...maybe the red hood gang is an extension of Mr. E. Nigma. if he is not the leader, the leader could be his pawn. Red hood MO of using infomation to control hench men and The riddler woukd be perturbed by the randomness of the wayne shooting.

They do have the same chin, but the sideburns are missing.....

#49 Posted by Superbat420 (223 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't know in jokers villian month issue I thought it stated he had the bleached skin because his aunt would scrub his face with bleach? But then again in the death of the family story arc it was heavily implied he was the leader of the red hood gang and got dropped into the vast of chemicals hence why Harley was dressed the way she was. I don't know seems like poor connection like always.

#50 Edited by DarthShap (874 posts) - - Show Bio

@shinjiro15 said:

@darthshap:

http://comics.cosmicbooknews.com/content/batman-24-preview

"It's too obvious" if the Red Hood Leader was the Joker. Granted he still could be but after seeing this it struck a cord with me

Well, to the avid comic book reader, both the leader and this blackmailed henchman are "obvious".

The leader is "obvious" because he is the Red Hood and he keeps talking about chaos.

The henchman is "obvious" because, like the Joker, he is a chemist and he was forced to join the gang.

At least one of them is a red herring but you never know, they could both be red herrings and the Joker could be someone else completely.

A few years back, I was reading the Star Wars KotOR comic book and the writer kept hinting that some of the characters would become members of the the Sith Triumvirate (from the KotOR II video game) but in the end, none of them did.

I really think and hope that the Joker turns out to be this henchman but you never know. Maybe that 's also too obvious.

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