Hooded Justice: 1938 - 1939
A masked vigilante disrupted a robbery and assault in a New York City alleyway. The couple reported that a man in an executioner's hood with a noose around his neck broke up the fight, single-handedly taking down five men, including one armed with a revolver. Three of the muggers never walked again.
The news media sensationalized this story and it became the talk of the town, but there were no other sightings of the masked vigilante for seven days. The vigilante was again spotted disrupting what appeared to be a market robbery. Gunfire disrupted the night, drawing onlookers who all reported seeing the masked vigilante sporting a red cape, noose, and an executioner's hood. Before the cops arrived, a brave boy stepped in the vigilante's path as he attempted to flee. The boy asked the vigilante what he is. The vigilante replied "Justice." The name was spun into "Hooded Justice" by the papers the next morning.
Many more sightings sprung up over the next few months. The vigilante's violent tactics made him a target of a police manhunt, but he became a champion of the people - particularly the impoverished neighborhoods he seemed inclined to protect. After a number of failed attempts to capture Hooded Justice by the police, the NYPD hired a private consultant to aid in the apprehension of Hooded Justice and the copycat vigilantes which began popping up.
However, the consultant, Nelson Gardner, went the other direction. Nelson secured political backing to endorse the costumed adventurer movement. Unbeknownst to the police, Nelson even became a costumed adventurer himself and formed his own team of adventurers. Nelson did make good on his promise of finding Hooded Justice, but instead of locking him up, Hooded Justice became a member of the new team of costumed heroes: the Minutemen.
Hooded Justice: 1939 - 1946
Sometime in the early days of the Minutemen, Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis (Nelson Gardner's alternate identity) are believed to have begun a sexual and/or romantic relationship. This was supported by several Minutemen having stated that it was a poorly kept secret that just was not discussed, contrary to the public perception that Hooded Justice was involved in a romantic relationship with Silk Spectre (Sally Jupiter). There are conflicting reports as to whether the relationship with Sally was sexual at all or merely just a ruse. Sally herself has given accounts that support both possibilities at differing times, apparently changing her answer to better suit her audience and/or agenda.
Hooded Justice is the Minuteman who rescued Sally Jupiter from an assault by teammate the Comedian (Eddie Blake) which would lead to Eddie's removal from the Minutemen.
Hooded Justice: 1946 - 1949
When the press revealed that fellow Minuteman Silhouette (Ursula Zandt) was a lesbian, a special meeting of the Minutemen was called to decide her fate with the team. Hooded Justice voted for her dismissal. As Hooded Justice is believed to have been a closeted member of the LGBT community himself, many historians have wondered as to why he voted this way. Hollis Mason puts forward this theory in his book Under the Hood:
HJ is nothing if not a complex figure. He was an enigma to all of us. To this day, I don't know what he looks like or even his first name. I could pass him on the street a hundred times and I would never know it. He could be my goddamn neighbor and I'd have no idea. So, who is to say why HJ voted the way he did? We'll never know for sure, but if you ask me, I'd say he did it because he listened to Nelson. I firmly believe that Nelson coached him to vote the way he did because he knew we'd all vote simultaneously and he expected all of us to vote Ursula out. The two closeted homosexuals on the team were afraid that if they were the only two to vote to keep her on the team, that we would all know that the Comedian was right about them. Not that any of us cared - well, maybe William would've had a problem with it.
A few months after the vote, Ursula was found dead in a motel room, slain beside her lesbian lover. This was recognized as the work of the Liquidator and it rallied the Minutemen together. The team swept the city, breaking up into four teams. Mothman and Nite-Owl worked together on patrols while Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice hit the known gay and lesbian clubs in the city looking for leads. Dollar Bill and Silk Spectre engaged in their own investigations, chasing down leads. Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis were the ones to find the Liquidator, but they did not get to him first. The murderer had been murdered and left in a bathtub, slowly dissolving.
Though Silk Spectre quit after the Liquidator matter was solved, Hooded Justice remained with the Minutemen until they were disbanded by Captain Metropolis in 1949.
Hooded Justice: 1949 - 1956
During the Senate Subcommittee hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, each Minuteman was requested to reveal their identities to one representative of the committee. Even though Hooded Justice's identity would not be released to the public, Hooded Justice refused to be exposed on the grounds that he was not prepared to reveal his true identity to anyone other than Nelson Gardner. The Senate put a great deal of pressure on the vigilante and would not allow Captain Metropolis to vouch for Hooded Justice. Hooded Justice never did reveal his identity. Instead, he simply disappeared, with his last known sighting occurring in 1955.
Hooded Justice: Legacy
Due to his disappearance, there has been a lot of speculation concerning the identity of Hooded Justice. An article from The New Frontiersman, printed about a year after Hooded Justice's disappearance, mentions an East German circus strongman named Rolf Müller, who disappeared at the height of the HUAC hearings may have been Hooded Justice. It may be that Hooded Justice feared that, since East Germany was then a Communist country, he would immediately be targeted as a Communist sympathizer. The New Frontiersman's article takes this further, suggesting that Hooded Justice had been working for Communists.
Another article revealed that a body, tentatively identified as that of Rolf Müller, washed up on the coast of Boston a little over three years after his disappearance. The body was badly decomposed and had been shot through the head. If Hooded Justice really was Rolf Müller, and the body was really his, then this suggests that he may have been assassinated. The assassins are never identified, although The New Frontiersman suggests that Müller may have been killed by his Communist superiors.
Sometime later, Adrian Veidt looked into Hooded Justice's disappearance when researching his crimefighter predecessors. He learned that a government operative, Eddie Blake, attempted to un-earth Hooded Justice shortly after his disappearance but reported failure. Veidt suspected that Blake had found and killed Hooded Justice, but reported failure to his superiors, although he admitted that he could not prove this. Veidt later suspected that Blake killed Müller in 1952 and may have posed as Hooded Justice himself a number of times, thus accounting for the discrepancies between the sightings of Hooded Justice in 1953 - 1955 and the proposed murder of Müller in 1952.
- Brawling & Wrestling: Hooded Justice was known to be a world-class hand-to-hand combatant. His skills even seemed to dwarf those of the very talented Comedian, who many Minutemen believed to be afraid of Hooded Justice.
- Conditioning: Hooded Justice was known to be a world-class athlete and exceptionally strong. His fellow Minutemen claim they saw him kick men through bricks walls on several occasions.
- Stealth: Hooded Justice was known to be highly elusive, able to enter and escape buildings even when they were highly guarded or surrounded. Hooded Justice would often startle his teammates by suddenly stepping out of a shadow and leaving them wondering if he had supernatural powers.
- Intimidation: Many criminals were known to have wet themselves when confronted by Hooded Justice. Several others immediately confessed to crimes when Hooded Justice approached them, even before he asked a question.
Trivia and Notes
- His exploits inspired many masked heroes.
- Hollis Mason's Under the Hood theorized that "patrols" into gay and lesbian clubs after Ursula's death were often meant as a way for Nelson to comfort Hooded Justice who had grown sick with being coerced into voting Silhouette off the team.
- He interrupted Edward Blake's assault on Sally Jupiter and caught Blake with his pants down over Sally's semi-conscious body. He savagely attacked Blake, breaking his nose and several ribs. Yet Blake only laughed and cracked taunting jokes. At some point, Hooded Justice realized that Blake was still just a kid and instead tossed him out of the room.
- There is a theory that Nelson and Hooded Justice convinced Sally to seduce Comedian after a photoshoot, only for Sally to then shift gears and scream for help. This rumor was denied repeatedly by Hollis Mason and Sally Jupiter, but it is worth mentioning that Nelson was the one who sent Hollis with Hooded Justice to go find Sally and it was Hooded Justice who beat the Comedian to submission, all the while with the Comedian revealing his belief about Nelson and HJ's relationship to the rest of the team. [Further evidence for this rumor would be Sally's own reversal of opinion on the Comedian in her later years].
- Hooded Justice is a character from the Watchmen comic.
- Hooded Justice being african-american, stopping a robbery in an execution hood and noose, and later adopting his costume are nods to Will Reeves from the Watchmen TV series.
- Criminals pissing themselves and Comedian posing as Hooded Justice are nods to Before Watchmen: Minutemen.