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Detective Comics 168

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Detective Comics 168
Detective Comics #168
Publication Information
Published February 1951
Executive Editor Whitney Ellsworth
Cover Artist(s) Lew Schwartz
Writer(s) Bill Finger
Inker(s) George Russos
Letterer(s) None
Editor(s) Jack Schiff
Alternate Covers


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Detective Comics #168 is an American comic book published by DC comics, released in 1951.

"The Man Behind The Red Hood!"Edit

SynopsisEdit

The story begins atop the police station, where Batman and Robin have been summoned by Commissioner Gordon via the Bat-Signal. Gordon introduces the Dynamic Duo to Dean Chalmers, headmaster of Gotham State University, who wishes to have Batman as a guest professor for the university's criminology class. Batman soon familiarizes himself with the students in the class, such as Paul Wong, who hails from Hawaii and hopes to be a medical examiner on the Hawaii police department one day, and Jimmy Kale, the son of gangster Chips Kale, who wishes to atone for his father's sins by taking the place of an FBI agent that Chips had slain.

Over the course of a month, "Professor Batman" teaches his students many things, and decides that they are ready for a real case - the case of a criminal known as the Red Hood, whom not even Batman was able to catch. Batman goes on to say that the Red Hood appeared ten years ago, and all of his victims told the same story - that he wore a large red metal hood which was completely blank on the outside - not even eye-holes could be seen on it. Batman then describes his first face-to-face encounter with the Red Hood, at an ice storing plant, where he saw with his own eyes that the rumors were true - the Red Hood's hood was completely blank.

Red Hood had escaped from that encounter by shooting several pipes in the building, causing choking ammonia gas to seep into the room. Beforehand, however, he explains that his reason for wearing a blank hood is simple - police can identify a man by his ears, eye color, or even chin shape, but he has none of those exposed, so he will never be identified. For another month, Batman continues, Red Hood plagued the city with his robberies. One night, however, he found himself cornered by both Batman and the police at the Monarch Playing Card Company, and dove inside a basin containing all of the factory's chemical waste to escape. The basin emptied into the river, which would have allowed him to get away, but for some reason, he never appeared again after that night.

Batman's challenge for his students to solve the ten-year old case soon makes the papers, and the students - Paul and Jimmy in particular - apply themselves vigorously. Paul has just figured out how the Red Hood saw through his hood, and Jimmy realizes that all of the stolen money from Red Hood's robberies add up to a total of one million dollars. They, however, are not the only ones who have taken interest in Batman's challenge, for at that very moment, the Red Hood himself has appeared in another part of the university, holding a guard at gunpoint and demanding the payroll. The guard bravely refuses, prompting the Red Hood to pistol-whip him unconscious, but not before the guard manages to press the alarm button.

In an instant, Batman and Robin are chasing the Red Hood through the college campus. Robin throws a punch at the Red Hood's hood, but only winds up injuring his hand - the hood, it seems, is solid metal. Now, Batman alone is pursuing the Red Hood, first through the university's physics hall, and finally into the hall's basement. Once Batman gets into the basement, however, the Red Hood is nowhere in sight - and the only "exit" is the gas main, which is so filled to the brim with deadly fumes that no human being could stay alive inside for more than two minutes. Batman then wanders back upstairs, and finds that the Red Hood had dropped a rolled-up hat, obviously meant to be worn after the robbery. Later that night, he and Robin, as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, study in the Batcave a piece of hair found inside the hat.

For a brief moment, Dick forgets that his right hand is in a cast, and winds up accidentally knocking over a lamp. The lamp's bulb comes into contact with the piece of hair, charring it black. Fortunately, Dick has been working on a special chemical formula that restores color to burnt fibers, but when he applies it, the hair turns green. Both Bruce and Dick come to the conclusion that there was a mistake with the formula, but in spite of it, Bruce tells Dick to not feel too bad about the whole affair. Later on, Batman returns to the university campus, only to spot the Red Hood through an open window. He lunges through the window and tackled "Red Hood", only to find that it is Paul, wearing a hood identical to that of Red Hood's.

Paul and Jimmy proudly reveal their new discovery to Batman - specifically, how Red Hood was able to see through his hood. They explain that, where the eye-holes were supposed to be, there were instead two small, circular two-way mirrors that were painted red on the outside; Red Hood could see out, but nobody could see in. They then go on to explain that Red Hood had survived the ammonia gas and the dive into the chemical basin because there was also a gas mask and diving helmet built into the hood. Jimmy speculates that Red Hood's ultimate plan was to steal one million dollars and retire - a feat that he had succeeded in - but Paul raises the question of why he had decided to come out of "retirement". Batman answers the question, stating that Red Hood wanted to make a laughingstock out of them for reopening the case. He goes on to state that since Red Hood had failed in his robbery the previous night, he would surely come again.

The Dark Knight's words ring true, for mere hours later, Red Hood returns to the campus. Batman's students alert him that Red Hood is going inside the university museum, and the Caped Crusader charges in after. Inside, Red Hood has his eyes on a solid gold statue in the museum's Mayan exhibit, but is soon forced to flee from Batman and his students. As he runs, he purposely dodges a room full of toxic gas (used to disinfect new exhibits), puzzling Batman and his students - they know that the hood has a built-in gas mask, so why would Red Hood be avoid it? Red Hood then escapes outside by jumping through a window, but his pursuers are hot on his heels - mere moments later outside, Batman tackles a shadowy figure to the ground, but instead of Red Hood, it turns out to be one of the university's gardeners. Batman recognizes the gardener as Owen "Farmerboy" Benson, a twenty-two year old man who had been released from prison six months ago.

The students and Batman debate whether or not Benson had been Red Hood all along, but in the end, dismiss the theory - the original Red Hood robberies occurred ten years ago, and he would have only been twelve back then. In addition, Red Hood has always shown himself to be well-educated, and would probably still have the million dollars from his original robberies, while Benson is barely literate and works at a low-paying job. Later on, Batman hold a secret meeting with Dean Chalmers, and asks for his help in creating bait to capture Red Hood. The next day, the university's newspaper sports a (false) article on the front page, detailing how a solid gold football trophy is to be displayed at the university's gymnasium. During the night, Red Hood appears once more, but this time, Batman is ready for him. The minute that the two come face-to-face inside the gym, Batman has Robin activate several red spotlights in the ceiling, making Red Hood unable to see. In a panic, Red Hood stumbles around, wildly firing his gun, until Batman detains him and explains that the red light bulbs, combined with the red two-way mirrors in his hood, had effectively blinded him.

Red Hood is unmasked, and to the students' shock, turns out to be Benson. Batman, however, alleviates the confusion by explaining that Benson was merely an impersonator. Benson surrenders to the Dark Knight, and tells them that he does indeed know where the real Red Hood is - locked inside the tool shed. Batman then explains that it had been the real Red Hood who had attempted to steal the payroll, but afterward, Benson had taken on the role. Benson confirms this theory, stating that he had seen the Red Hood come out of the school's gas main, and, seizing the opportunity, had overpowered him. After tying him up, Benson had intended to turn him in for a reward, but had then decided to steal the hood and commit crimes to make himself rich, all the while pinning said crimes on the real Red Hood. As they unlock the door to the tool shed, Batman says to Robin that he had not made a mistake with the color-restoring formula after all - the green hair, in fact, turned out to be an important clue.

Unmasked at last, the Red Hood's identity is revealed to all - The Joker. Joker explains that years ago, he had been an ordinary lab worker who decided to steal a million dollars and retire, and thus became the Red Hood. He had indeed survived his dive into the chemical basin at the Monarch Playing Card Company, but when he got home and took off the hood, he realized that the chemicals had bleached his skin chalk white, dyed his hair bright green, and turned his lips bright red, effectively transforming him into a clown. He decided to use his new appearance to terrify people, and, taking his name from the playing card company, became The Joker. He then goes on to state that all these years, he had been secretly laughing at Batman - the Dark Knight had not figured out his identity until this very moment. Batman proves him wrong, however; the green hair had proven his identity long beforehand, so he and Robin are the ones who really have the last laugh.

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