He and Dollar Bill are the only two costumed vigilantes whose real names or identities are never revealed in the series (though Bill's were revealed later in the R.P.G. books and the prequel comics).
Although the press and many members of the public believed the Hooded Justice was in a relationship with fellow crime fighter Silk Spectre (Sally Jupiter) (to the extent that Laurie Juspeczyk believed that Hooded Justice was her father), in fact he was a homosexual who was involved with Captain Metropolis (Nelson Gardner). He also had sadomasochistic tendencies (see Sexuality, below).
He is the only masked vigilante whose final fate is never fully resolved. It is suggested he may have been killed, but never proven.
On multiple occasions, Hooded Justice was described with the physique of a wrestler and has been noted as one of the biggest men most people had ever seen. Both tall and made up of erupting muscles, there is no question why he was such a worthy candidate for his title. In one view, it can be seen through the eye holes of his hood the color of his blazing ember eyes, filled with fury and shock.
His costume was the least gaudy of the Minutemen, even with his bright red cape, his attire was simple and surprisingly symbolical. Along with his cape, which fell to his knees and opened upward from his neck, circling his face except for the front, was his similarly colored spandex trousers. The rest of his body was covered in the same material with a dark purple or possibly black color. Most notable and symbolic of all his attire, besides perhaps the simple hood, resembling that of an executioner, over his head, is the hangman's noose wrapped around his neck, likely a symbol for punishment of villains and law-breakers. He also wears the same rope around his waist, wrists and ankles.
Curiously, the author's notes reveal that this costume was originally designed for a Minuteman called Brother Night who claimed to have occult powers.
Becoming Hooded Justice
In the autumn of 1938, there was an attempted assault and robbery in Queens, where a man and his girlfriend were walking home from the theater. They were attacked by a gang of three men with guns who stole all their valuables and physically abused the man, then threatening to assault his girlfriend. They were interrupted, however, by a masked figure who had disarmed them and then beat them with such severity that they were hospitalized, one of the assailants lost the use of his legs due to spinal-cord injury.
A week after this incident, on October 13, there was a supermarket stick-up that was prevented by a man who had crashed in through the window. He attacked the man who was responsible, likely the group's leader, with such intensity and savagery that those who were not already disabled dropped their guns and surrendered. This witness recounting was much more thorough than the first, and they described him as a tall man who was built like a wrestler and wore a black hood and cape with a noose around his neck. The article that detailed this incident was headlined "Hooded Justice", which gave him the name he'd go by for many years to come.
In 1939 there was a triple homicide at a federal bank. Of the four criminals, H.J. hunted down Tony and Little Bob, the other two were inside a battery park factory. H.J. took off Monty. Nobody knows what happened, but the cops, and Mason, heard their screams. Mason was the only one who saw a little of his red cape as he left.
In the autumn of 1939 there was an advertisement in the New York Gazette for all other masked adventurerss to step forward that was submitted by Nelson Gardner with the help of Laurence Schexnayder. Like the rest, Hooded Justice joined the group and fought crime as a team. His sexual relationship with Gardner was soon known, and Schexnayder persuaded Sally Jupiter to pretend to date him.
At the Minutemen Christmas Party that year, it was noted that he and Sally Jupiter had started dating, 'sort of', but Hollis Mason speculates that even though she attached herself swiftly to him, he never seemed very interested in her.
In 1940, after the group's photo had been taken, Sally Jupiter stayed in the room to change, and the Comedian attempted to sexually assault her. Hooded Justice walked into the room realizing how long she was taking and caught Blake on the ground over her with his pants down, also she appeared to be almost unconscious. After Hooded Justice brutally attacked him, Blake coughed up blood and said, "This is what you like, huh? This is what gets you hot..." Hooded Justice replied, "Get out," and told Sally to put some clothes on.
After the verdict to expel Blake was announced to him, HJ attempted to separate Blake and Mason who argued. As he approached, Blake pulled HJ from his rope noose and threw him down. He pulled a gun to Gardner and then threatened them that he will shoot HJ when he next sees him.
During the Senate Subcommittee hearings of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee some time around 1956, each Minuteman was requested to reveal their identities to one representative of the committee, and even though his 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. Due to America's strong campaign, they put a great deal of pressure on the vigilante, but he never did reveal his identity. Instead, he simply disappeared.
There is no concrete evidence regarding Hooded Justice's fate after his disappearance. Even his reasons for disappearing are not known for certain, although Hollis Mason suggested in the fifth chapter of Under the Hood that Hooded Justice probably chose to retire rather than reveal his identity (a simple matter for costumed heroes, since they only need to remove their masks).
An article from The New Frontiersman, printed about a year after Hooded Justice's disappearance, mentions the possibility of Hooded Justice really being an East German circus strongman named Rolf Müller, who disappeared at the height of the Communist witchhunts. It may be that Hooded Justice feared that, since East Germany was then a Communist country, he would immediately be targeted as a Communist sympathiser (despite apparently holding far right-wing values - see Personality, below). The New Frontiersman's article takes this further, suggesting that Hooded Justice had been working for Communists.
The same article revealed that a body, tentatively identified as that of Rolf Müller, washed up on the coast of Boston some three months 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.
Some time later (although prior to 1960), Adrian Veidt looked into Hooded Justice's disappearance when researching his crime-fighter 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.
There is an alternative possibility, that Hooded Justice in fact faked his disappearance and survived to the story's present day of 1985. He and Nelson Gardner, also still alive, are supposedly depicted togther in Rafael's in panel I:25:4. (This theory is explored in The Fate of Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis.)
It is later revealed in Before Watchmen:Minutemen that Hooded Justice was killed by the Nite Owl in 1955, after the latter believed he killed several children. Rolf Muller was later revealed not to be Hooded Justice, but instead the real killer of those boys and was a Nazi criminal who raped and tortured young children including Sillhouette's sister. The Comedian found Rolf and killed him while finding a photo of him and a boy named Jacob, who is the real Hooded Justice, and orchestrated events to flush Hooded Justice out only to have Nite Owl kill him.
Linking Hooded Justice further to the circus strongman Rolf Müller, Hollis Mason mentioned that while Hooded Justice was part of the Minutemen, he had gone on record for expressing approval for Hitler's actions during the Third Reich. Considering Muller's family is from East Germany, this would only be further proof of their secrets. Seeing Muller as a Nazi would conclude that he is an authoritarian, but is hypocritical toward himself due to Hitler's eradication of homosexuals from Germany also. He would not be unique in this; a number of very masculine homosexuals have historically been attracted to authoritarian and militaristic organizations, indeed a number of the original SA brownshirts were homosexual, and a subculture of the gay scene, repudiated by the main gay rights organizations, were still fetishising elements of Nazism as late as the 1980s (at least). Furthermore one of the leaders of the British National Front, one Martin Webster, was not only gay, but notably camp (which Hooded Justice would probably have despised).
One could speculate that Muller, if he was indeed Hooded Justice, was simply a very authoritarian person who wanted to see law and order prevail in his country, and would support whichever group promised this, Nazis in the 1930s, Communists after the war.
Some of the few confirmed moments of Hooded Justice's actions as a crimefighter indicate that he was incredibly vicious and terse. This is in stark contrast to the mostly gentle and timid Nelson Gardner.
In a letter from Sally Jupiter's scrapbook, Laurence Schexnayder discusses the dilemma between "Nelly" (Nelson Gardner) and "H.J." (Hooded Justice) and how Nelly was upset over another tiff with Hooded Justice He describes their actions in public as those of an old married couple and how they are getting more difficult to cover for. Nelly claims that when he calls, Hooded Justice is 'out with boys' with a lot of 'rough stuff' going on.
The fact that Hooded Justice apparently relished rough sex with teenaged boys is what allows Blake to goad him when he stops Blake's rape of Sally. "This is what you like, huh? This is what gets you hot?" It is, and Hooded Justice realizes that if he continues the beating, he will effectively be a rapist himself, committing an assault which he finds sexually arousing.
Although his identity was never confirmed, there was speculation in an article in The New Frontiersman, a year after Hooded Justice disappeared, that mentioned the absence of a circus strongman named Rolf Müller who quit his job at approximately the same time as Hooded Justice had vanished. Only three months later his body had washed up on the coast of Boston that was shot through the head and badly decomposed.
Rolf Muller, if that was indeed a name that Hooded Justice used, may also have been only an alias and his true identity was never discovered. Muller and his family were East German and had been on the run from the Communist witch hunts, thus it was believed that he had been executed by his own Red superiors. A lot of his actions while Hooded Justice imply that he was a Nazi supporter rather than a communist, but the strongman's immense size could easily have been described as the physique of a wrestler.
In the movie, Hooded Justice is only heard to speak one line, "You little bastard!" His inflection and accent are not American, they could perhaps be German, but they could also be upper-class British, adding a further level of ambiguity.
- ↑ Under the Hood: Chapter V.
- ↑ Chapter XI: Look On My Works, Ye Mighty, page 18
- ↑ Before Watchmen: Minutemen
- ↑ Watchmen RPG
|Captain Metropolis • Hooded Justice • Nite Owl I • The Comedian • Silk Spectre I • Dollar Bill • Mothman • Silhouette|
|Captain Metropolis • Doctor Manhattan • Rorschach • The Comedian • Ozymandias • Nite Owl II • Silk Spectre II|