February 5, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #401: The Hood

A small time criminal got himself some magical artifacts and became a major crime boss.

There used to be a time when I would say I should do a certain character and then I would do a write-up for that character the very next week.  But I must be slipping lately.  I only remembered I should do an entry on the Hood when I was proofreading the Titania entry.

Anyway, here’s one of Marvel’s most recent crime bosses, and I figure I better get this up before the character pops up in the MCU Ironheart series on Disney+.

The Hood began as one Parker Robbins.  And yes, the name is supposed to invoke a certain wallcrawler because writer Brian K Vaughn, working with artists Kyle Hotz and Eric Powell on the mini-series that introduced the character, did think of Parker as some sort of inverse of Marvel’s flagship hero.  Like Peter Paker, Parker Robbins was basically being raised by a single parent, a sick mother who hadn’t been well since Parker’s father had died.  Parker had, as a child, witnessed a battle between Daredevil and Electro, and it had something of an impact on him.

That impact wasn’t good.  Parker took to being something of a petty criminal, something he lied about to his mother, and he was screwing around with a prostitute while having a pregnant girlfriend to support.  See, Parker apparently had a lot of (ignored) responsibility, but not much power… at first.

One night, Parker went out on a job with his cousin and best friend John King.  They were looking for easy cash from a warehouse and somehow instead stumbled upon an abandoned ritual that summoned a demon of some kind.  Parker shoots and thinks (incorrectly it later turned out) that he killed the thing, and seeing an opportunity, takes the demon’s cloak and boots.  After he had to ditch the boots he was wearing, Parker tried the demon’s boots and cape on and learned he had a couple powers, namely he could walk or run on air, and he could turn invisible for as long as he held his breath.  After shooting a policeman, Parker gained the name “the Hood” in the media and became something of a wanted criminal, running around and basically doing his best not to get killed by the various people after him.

Here’s the thing:  Parker wasn’t all that impressive a supervillain at first glance.  His powers weren’t exactly all that earthshattering, and Vaughn’s script showed him as more lucky than powerful.  Yes, this could be the first steps for a supervillain-in-the-making, but it did seem like he made a rather big leap forward when he returned.  He was initially involved in a story on Battleworld with a mixed group of heroes and villains that was eventually revealed to be an experiment by the Stranger.

Mental note: the Stranger probably deserves an entry too.

But then Brian Michael Bendis got his hands on the Hood and decided this guy would make a good supervillain mob boss.  This was during Bendis’s various Avengers runs, and for the record…Bendis’s first Avengers run was always kinda weird to me.  Even with Captain America and Iron Man there, the original team never quite felt like the Avengers to me.  They seemed to be doing more street level stuff or espionage comics involving SHIELD and various international criminal organizations like the Hand.  So, having a supervillain mob seems to go more towards that street level thing, the sort of thing that fits a team with members like Luke Cage and Spider-Man, guys who never really felt like Avengers to me.

Anyway, the Hood decided the thing to do was gather together various loose supervillains and make them into a criminal mob, led by himself, and to treat the battle with heroes like the mob would.  That would mean supporting each other and blackmailing heroes to leave them alone, something he attempted with reservist Avenger Tigra by attacking her at her home and saying if she didn’t back off, his mob would kill her mother.

That backfired when Tigra ended up joining the battle the Avengers were having with the Hood’s mob in Dr. Strange’s house.

Now, the Hood’s gang was rather large, and Bendis’s scripts were often just heroes and villains smacking each other around with no sign either side was prevailing until someone pulled out a big gun of some kind and sent the losers away.  It wasn’t like anyone was keeping track of which bad guys were knocked out (or badly skewered by Wolverine), so the big brawls weren’t all that good.

Never mind all that.  By this point, the Hood had developed some general knowledge of magic, and sometimes he took on a more demonic form when using whatever powers he had.

He also proved himself a bit unique during the Secret Invasion in that he had the power to recognize disguised Skrulls, something that put him a bit above characters like Professor X, Dr. Strange, and Wolverine who all somehow couldn’t do that.  The Hood and his gang would join forces with the heroes for that final battle against the Skrulls, and because the people of the Marvel Universe are idiots, they all forgot Norman Osborn was a convicted murderer, but they made him a hero for firing the kill shot that took down the Skrull Queen (never mind that Wolverine had slashed the hell out of her before that).  Naturally, that led to Osborn becoming the head of what was SHIELD and he had his own evil version of the Illuminati that included the Hood, known as the Cabal.  That led the Hood to eventually become the head of the 50 State Initiative training program.

Because, again, the people of the Marvel Universe are sometimes idiots.

Osborn’s fall didn’t seem to do much to the Hood’s ability to keep things going as he would later at various points acquire both the Asgardian Norn Stones and later the Infinity Stones to form his own Illuminati.

Because it is much easier to find the Infinity Stones in the comics apparently.

That does seem to be the Hood’s whole thing:  find various objects of power, use them to run a superhuman gang, and eventually overstep.

So, naturally, the magically-powered bad guy will be facing off against the technologically-inclined Riri “Ironheart” Williams in the upcoming Disney+ Ironheart series, to be played by Anthony Ramos.

Now, granted, I haven’t really read anything with Ironheart, but a magic bad guy against a new hero in a suit of high tech armor seems…weird.

But then again, I’m not sure how the mildly clumsy and somewhat lucky original character somehow because a major mob boss.

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