"The Beckoning Dark": As a super-storm Rene approached the blacked out city of Gotham, Jason Todd was growing concerned about his neighbourhood of Park Row, where a lack of police presence was not helping to reduce the already volatile criminal el
- Hey, bozos. Stop fighting, or face the, um... wrath of the red hood gang.
- -- Jason Todd
Appearing in "The Beckoning Dark"
- Talia al Ghul
Synopsis for "The Beckoning Dark"
As a super-storm Rene approached the blacked out city of Gotham, Jason Todd was growing concerned about his neighbourhood of Park Row, where a lack of police presence was not helping to reduce the already volatile criminal element that resided there. His mother was ill - and he had been forced out into the streets to find food for both of them. In the process, he had got into a bloody fight with another kid over the food, and while he had won, he wondered whether the situation was making him a bad person.
Unfortunately, his mother could provide no comfort in her weakened state. As he knelt over her, he was surprised to hear a voice behind him, and instinctively threw the intruder onto his back. He was further surprised to see that the intruder was his friend Chris, who had found the corpses of two members of the Red Hood Gang nearby. Starstruck, Chris suggested that they take the masks for themselves, and use them to infiltrate a revival of the gang set to occur that night. Jason was doubtful, but Chris assured him that if he wasn't sure who he wanted to be, this would be the perfect chance to be anyone. Unbeknownst to them, a disfigured madman watched from the shadows.
Elsewhere, a woman was ploughing through Gotham's criminal underworld seeking information on the Red Hood Gang for herself. Her inquisition earned her a back alley fight, which Jason witnessed from an overlooking fire-escape. Concerned that all of these fights might end with someone getting killed, he considered what Chris had told him, and decided that whomever he wanted to be was someone who could intervene. Putting the mask over his head, he leapt down into the fray and warned the thugs to stop fighting, or face the wrath of the Red Hood Gang. Having found what she was looking for, the woman warned the thugs to run for their lives, and, assessing Jason's likely age, she held back in her fighting with him, wanting only information on the Red Hood Gang. Remembering Chris' plans for them, Jason agreed to take her to the meeting place that night, introducing himself as Red Hood #4.
In the time between then and the meeting, the woman required Jason to sit and watch as she trained to perform a particular strike that she had been taught by Ducra of the All-Caste. Unfortunately - as Ducra had told her - she would never be able to do it successfully with so much darkness in her soul. When the time for the meeting came, Jason led her away to the meeting place. Outside, she warned that this would be no place for children, and - for some reason - she hoped to see him live through the night. To that end, she knocked him unconscious in order to prevent his following her. Something bad was about to happen inside.
The meeting was hosted by a man who claimed that the Red Hood Gang embodied the potential of Gotham city; its true nature of unexpected chaos. The Batman had taken that from them, and it was time to take it back.
Outside, Jason was shaken awake by the sinister and cryptic ramblings of a man whose face was covered in bloodied bandages. Uncomfortably, Jason kicked the man away from him and escaped down a storm drain as the grinning man warned that regardless, he would get Jason with the rest. Confused, Jason made his way inside the meeting place where he arrived in time to witness the woman attempting the strike on the Red Hood Gang's new leader. As predicted, the move failed, and the man mocked her, correctly tracing the source of the move to his cousin Ducra. Seeing that she was in danger, Jason rushed forward, warning the man away. Remembering how he had watched the woman training, he recited the same words she had, clearing his mind and letting go of darkness, and then performed the strike perfectly. With little hesitation, the woman sliced off her enemy's head with her sword, to Jason's horror.
Chris, who had been among the assembled Red Hoods, rushed up onto the stage, warning that if they didn't escape soon, the others would attack them for killing their new leader. Hurriedly, Jason led them out a back way. In the meantime, though, the grinning, disfigured man had turned on the gas in the basement, and set the building ablaze with his old gang burning alive inside.
Once safe, Chris punched Jason in the face, complaining that he had ruined their chance to be somebody in Gotham. Protectively, the woman put her sword to Chris' throat, prompting Jason to warn them both to cool it. Softening, she had been impressed by his ability to perform the strike that she could not, and demanded to know his name. He gave it, and she bid him farewell, promising that they would see each other again. With her gone, Jason turned to Chris and thrust the Red Hood mask back into his friend's arms, warning that while he didn't want to be a nobody, he would rather be himself - and certainly not a Red Hood.
Later, Talia al Ghul reunited with her father, who had been searching for her for some time. Annoyed that he had found her, she warned that he and Ducra were right, that she couldn't perform the technique required to depower the Untitled. Self-satisfied, he responded that one of these days, she would have to admit to herself that she is his daughter, and accept the baggage that comes with that truth. As true as it might have been, Talia was more interested in the revelation that Jason Todd could perform the technique. They would have to keep an eye on him.
- This book was first published on November 20, 2013.
- Takes place just after Batman Vol. 2 #25.
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