Spoiler warning for Task Force Z #9
One of Red Hood‘s oldest foes is back in his life, and now Jason Todd is starting to questions his decisions because of it. Though Black Mask—one of Gotham’s many crime lords—began as a threat to Batman, his key role in Red Hood’s origins make him one of Jason’s rogues. Now Black Mask has returned to Jason’s orbit in Task Force Z, but this time as Red Hood’s newest ally.
Red Hood and Black Mask have clashed before, most notably during the “Under the Hood” storyline that re-introduced Jason Todd to the Batman mythos as the crime lord Red Hood, making Black Mask an essential element to Red Hood’s contemporary origins. More recently, Jason Todd has been working closely with the Bat-Family—but that relationship is being put to the test in Task Force Z. In recent issues, Jason has fought with the likes of Nightwing and Batgirl. His methods and villainous teammates on this new task force—led by Harvey Dent—are putting him at odds with Batman’s allies, despite Jason’s ultimate goal of stopping the nefarious plans of Powers International and Mr. Bloom. Meanwhile, Black Mask is all-villain in the pages of Catwoman, where he is actively seeking to destroy Selina Kyle.
Task Force Z #9—by Matthew Rosenberg, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Adriano Lucas, and Rob Leigh—opens with a conversation between Jason and Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, who warns Jason that he better “end this now or your history [with the Bat-Family] won’t matter.” She insists he’s “messing up,” while he insists that he’s doing the right thing. Later, Harvey Dent brings Red Hood and Black Mask together, as Black Mask has agreed to rent the team a warehouse, making him a new—and unwelcome—member of Red Hood’s network of accomplices. “We don’t work with men like him,” Jason says. Black Mask retorts: “Like me? Look around, boy. You still think you’re one of the good guys?“
Jason Todd has always despised Black Mask, fighting him vehemently even back when Red Hood was more “crime lord” than “anti-hero.” Nothing has changed on this front for Jason; while Red Hood often believes well-intentioned ends justify morally-grey means, Black Mask is all bad guy, all the time. Jason’s history with Black Mask—and his knowledge that this is a truly bad person—further illuminates his moral struggles throughout Task Force Z. Readers can see in this issue, after his family has tried to intervene and as he grapples with taking help from Black Mask, Jason begin to truly question whether he is doing the right thing in continuing to work on this mission.
Working with Black Mask might be a step too far for Red Hood, and hopefully Task Force Z will continue to explore Jason’s moral dilemma as the team inevitably confronts Powers International and Mr. Bloom. The question remains of whether or not Jason will prove right in allying himself with so many villains—undead and otherwise. The events of Task Force Z are coming to a head, and soon readers will see if Red Hood will continue to work with his long-time nemesis, Black Mask—and if Jason will remain on the good side of Batman and the whole Bat-Family.
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Check out Task Force Z #9 available now from DC Comics!