"Under the Hood" is an excerpt from the comic book Watchmen which talks about a super hero Hollis Mason or The Nite Owl.
Mason starts off by writing about Denise who is a developing writer whose books were never published, and Mason talks to Denise about starting off this book. As told by Denise, Mason starts his story with a sad story of his dad and his struggle. His dad moved to New York from Montana with the hope of independent. His dad worked for Moe Vernon, who Mason describes as a man with old New York face.Mason's dad was very enthusiastic about his work and he earned enough to feed a family of four.Mason as a kid used to go to his dad's work where he helped his dad. On his process of helping his dad, Mason got the opportunity to get inside Moe's office where he played his gramophone as loud as he could.Moe had one of the largest collections of random items, from a cheap blue gimmick to a ball point pen, every salt and pepper crewet to every plastic dog mess.One day in 1933, after mason's seventeenth birthday, Moe received a letter from his wife saying that she had been having an affair with Fred, who apparently worked for Moe. And his wife had fled with Fred taking all the money out of their joint account. That night, Moe killed himself by running a tube for the exhaust of one of the shop's vehicles.Moe's brother took over the business and rehired Fred Mortz as chief mechanic.
The story suddenly moves to 1939, where Mason becomes a New york City police officer. He blames his grandfather, Hollis Wordsworth Mason, for choosing his career as a policeman.His grandmother had a major impact on his upbringing, however his grandfather paid special attention to him, because Mason's parents named him after his grand dad.His grandfather told him that people living in the country were were lot morally healthy than the people in the city.Mason after experiencing life in the cities, the pimps, pornographers, child rapists, his grandfather's idea of country people was true up to some extent.
Mason dressed up as an owl to fight crime, because he had fun and somebody needed to do so.Mason started becoming a super-hero when writers were coming up with ideas in comics. First issue of Action Comics, it was the time when only kids were suppose to read comics.Mason rescued his class mate and his English teacher from bullies and mugs, but like any other super-hero,he did not risk his identity.To recollect his memories, the first super-hero in reality came in the form of "Hooded Justice", who claimed his image from preventing a stick-up in a supermarket.the super-hero had crashed in through the window and attacked the culprit.This is when, Mason realized and told to himself that he had to be the second super-hero.
Mason writes his hard-work and labor he had to put into being a super-hero. He trained three months for self-consciousness, doubting and ridiculing himself. As every super-hero he had to have a costume, but before that he had to come up with a name. He writes that after having to reject his co-worker many times for a drink, his co-worker called him a "Nite Owl" as a sarcasm, but to Mason, it was his super-hero's name.After the name, Mason writes about his costume. He went for a design that made the arms and legs as free as possible for mobility and flexibility. He protected his body and head with a tough leather tunic, light chainmail briefs, and a layer of leather-over chain mail protecting his head.He then went for the mask, He first used a simple string to attach his mask to his face, after a bad encounter he opted to go with spirit gum, like the ones used by actors in movies. After 1939, being a super-hero was a fad. The "Hooded Justice" started a trend of super-heroes.There were Silhouette, The Comedian, Captain Metropolis, Silk Spectre, Dolar Bill,Mothman, and Nite owl who were flourishing as super heroes.He then starts pointing out faults in super-heroes. he writes that some of them were politically active, sexually hung up, unstable, neurotic, crazy, kinky, and Nazis. Mason writes about Minutemen, which is an elite group of superheroes. It started when Laurence Schexnayder, posted an ad on a newspaper asking all the super-heroes to come forward.Mason describes Comedian as a disgrace to the minutemen. Comedian attempted to sexually assault Sally Jupiter in a room after meeting. this particular incident made him leave the group by mutual consent.Mason then writes, Silhouette was having a lesbian relationship. However,she was later murdered along with her lover by her former enemies. Dollar Bill was shot dead and Sally quit.
Mason jumps to 1947, where things have changed and people's ideas, perception towards them had changed. The super-heroes were in their forties and people had started making fun of them in one way or the other. Mason writes that, the minutemen had to testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, and were forced to reveal their true identities to one of their representatives.After this incident, many super-heroes had to go through some trouble. However, when Hooded Justice refused to reveal his identity, he had to retire. But a newspaper discovered a disappearance of a strong circus man named Rolf Muller, who had quit his job at the height of the Senate Subcommittee hearings. his body was found dead, three months later.Mason had several questions in his mind regarding Rolf Muller and Hooded Justice.Mason describes Dr. Manhattan as the Super-Hero.Dr.Manhattan could walk through the walls, move for one place to another without covering the intervening distance and re-arrange things completely with a single thought.The extreme being of Dr. Manhattan made Mason to eradicate the idea of him being a super-hero and made him quit.However, Dr. Manhattan was not the first one, there had been a report of a adventurer named Ozymandias,who had gain reputation among criminal fraternity for his intelligence.
After looking at the super-heroes of his time in a charity event, Mason finally decided to hang his mask. He had gotten over the adventure of being a super hero. so, he decided to help his dad at Moe Vernon's yard.
I had read the whole "Watchmen" comic book about a year ago in Minnesota, but I did not read this page. May be I thought this was an advertisement section. However, now that I read this, I remember that there are few other characters who have their own little side story in the book. This little side story was extremely detailed and amazingly matched with the history. From, World War to McCarthy, it was very nicely done. It gets really hard for a writer to look into every aspect of the story. And although this side story may not be that important related to the comic book, all these stories make the comic book even more interesting to read.