“Under the Hood” is a section of Watchmen by Alan Moore that is the fictional autobiography of Hollis Mason, or “Night Owl,” a masked adventurer from the series. The autobiography focuses on Mason’s creation of his alter-ego, joining the Minutemen, and retirement from crime fighting.
After Joining the police force in 1938 Mason eventually decides to follow in the footsteps of Hooded Justice, a masked vigilante. He creates his alter-ego “Night Owl” and begins fighting crime. He eventually joins the Minutemen, a team of costumed adventurers. They included Hooded Justice, The Silhouette, The Silk Spectre, The Comedian, Nite Owl, Mothman, Dollar Bill, and Captain Metropolis. The team continued to fight crime through the Forties until the Silk Spectre married her agent, and the Minutemen’s publicist. After that the Minutemen went downhill and eventually disbanded in 1949.
Mason recounts the rise of new superheroes Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias. Dr. Manhattan, a large blue man with seemingly godlike abilities, makes Mason feel that “We've been replaced.” Not just the old superheroes but all life as we know it. So finally in May of 1962 the Night Owl hangs up his mask and retires, but not before passing on the torch, and letting another would be crusader take up the name.
Having watched the movie Watchmen, I was somewhat familiar with the plot. I found the more developed back story behind “Night Owl” was very interesting to read. Watchmen is a somewhat more realistic portrayal of the “super-hero.” They are portrayed with flaws, and some of them are just adrenaline junkies, and aren't really the good moral people you would typically imagine a super-hero to be. This is such a refreshing perspective. While it does make the world darker, and more unstable, it also adds depth to the characters. When your super-hero's alter ego is a crazy, kinky, Nazi, you have to ask “what made them want to become a costumed adventurer?” Its great that Mason explains his motivations.
"Under the Hood" is a great look into a uncommon, but fascinating, world of super-heroes. Real people with uncertain futures that fight crime dressed in silly costumes. These super-heroes have issues, just like real people might. They're crazy, they're kinky, they're nazis, they're unpredictable; and that is exactly what makes them interesting.