"The Beckoning Dark": As a super-storm Rene approaches the blacked-out city of Gotham, Jason Todd is growing concerned about his neighborhood of Park Row, where a lack of police presence is not helping to reduce the already volatile criminal eleme
- Hey, bozos. Stop fighting, or face the, um... wrath of the red hood gang.
Synopsis for "The Beckoning Dark"
As a super-storm Rene approaches the blacked-out city of Gotham, Jason Todd is growing concerned about his neighborhood of Park Row, where a lack of police presence is not helping to reduce the already volatile criminal element that resides there. His mother is ill - and he has been forced out into the streets to find food for both of them. In the process, he gets into a bloody fight with another kid over the food, and while he has won, he wonders whether the situation is making him a bad person.
Unfortunately, his mother can provide no comfort in her weakened state. As he kneels over her, he is surprised to hear a voice behind him, and instinctively throws the intruder onto his back. He is further surprised to see that the intruder is his friend Chris, who has found the corpses of two members of the Red Hood Gang nearby. Starstruck, Chris suggests that they take the masks for themselves, and use them to infiltrate a revival of the gang set to occur that night. Jason is doubtful, but Chris assures 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 watches from the shadows.
Elsewhere, a woman is ploughing through Gotham's criminal underworld seeking information on the Red Hood Gang for herself. Her inquisition earns her a back alley fight, which Jason witnesses from an overlooking fire-escape. Concerned that all of these fights might end with someone getting killed, he considers what Chris has told him, and decides that whomever he wanted to be was someone who could intervene. Putting the mask over his head, he leaps down into the fray and warns the thugs to stop fighting, or face the wrath of the Red Hood Gang. Having found what she is looking for, the woman warns the thugs to run for their lives, and, assessing Jason's likely age, she holds back in her fighting with him, wanting only information on the Red Hood Gang. Remembering Chris' plans for them, Jason agrees 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 comes, Jason leads her away to the meeting place. Outside, she warns that this will be no place for children, and - for some reason - she hopes to see him live through the night. To that end, she knocks him unconscious in order to prevent his following her. Something bad is about to happen inside.
The meeting is hosted by a man who claims that the Red Hood Gang embodies the potential of Gotham city; its true nature of unexpected chaos. The Batman has taken that from them, and it is time to take it back.
Outside, Jason is shaken awake by the sinister and cryptic ramblings of a man whose face is covered in bloodied bandages. Uncomfortably, Jason kicks the man away from him and escapes down a storm drain as the grinning man warns that regardless, he will get Jason with the rest. Confused, Jason makes his way inside the meeting place where he arrives in time to witness the woman attempting the strike on the Red Hood Gang's new leader. As predicted, the move fails, and the man mocks her, correctly tracing the source of the move to his cousin Ducra. Seeing that she is in danger, Jason rushes forward, warning the man away. Remembering how he had watched the woman training, he recites the same words she had, clearing his mind and letting go of darkness, and then performs the strike perfectly. With little hesitation, the woman slices off her enemy's head with her sword, to Jason's horror.
Chris, who is among the assembled Red Hoods, rushes up onto the stage, warning that if they don't escape soon, the others will attack them for killing their new leader. Hurriedly, Jason leads them out a back way. In the meantime, though, the grinning, disfigured man has turned on the gas in the basement, and sets the building ablaze with his old gang burning alive inside.
Once safe, Chris punches Jason in the face, complaining that he has ruined their chance to be somebody in Gotham. Protectively, the woman puts her sword to Chris' throat, prompting Jason to warn them both to cool it. Softening, she has been impressed by his ability to perform the strike that she could not, and demands to know his name. He gives it, and she bids him farewell, promising that they will see each other again. With her gone, Jason turns to Chris and thrusts the Red Hood mask back into his friend's arms, warning that while he doesn't want to be a nobody, he would rather be himself - and certainly not a Red Hood.
Later, Talia al Ghul reunites with her father, who has been searching for her for some time. Annoyed that he has found her, she warns that he and Ducra were right, that she can't perform the technique required to depower the Untitled. Self-satisfied, he responds that one of these days, she will 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 is more interested in the revelation that Jason Todd could perform the technique. They will have to keep an eye on him.
Appearing in "The Beckoning Dark"
- Talia al Ghul
- Takes place just after Batman Vol. 2 #25.