"I dressed up like an owl and fought crime because it was fun and because it needed doing and because I goddamn felt like it."
—Hollis Mason, page 5 of Under the Hood
Hollis details his resentment for his grandfather was not only due to the amount of guilt, pressure and recrimination he had subjected his father to, but because he had spent the first twelve years of his life in his grandfather's proximity, the old man had stamped a certain set of moral values and conditions upon him. His name was Hollis Wordsworth Mason, a man extreme in his beliefs concerning God, the family, and the flag, and perhaps because Hollis was named after him, his grandfather took special concern with his Holis's upbringing and moral instruction. He taught him that country folk were morally healthier than city folk and cities are cesspools where the world's dishonesty, greed, lust and godlessness drained. As he grew older he realized his grandfather's one-sidedness but it still left him with an ethical revulsion as he entered New York that he still can't shake off to some degree.
He noted the types of people that made him feel sick to his gut; pimps, pornographers, protection artists, landlords who set dogs on elderly tenants, old men who touched little children, callous young rapists. Because of them he'd upset his parents by loudly wishing he was back in Montana, even though that was not true, he thought it was the best way to hurt them. He explains how sorry he is now, and the regret, and wishes he could have told them they were right in taking him to the city before they died.
He notes that his other great love was pulp adventure fiction for the prevailing morality in them. The world of Doc Savage and The Shadow, full of absolute values, helping him to picture a perfect world, and he can imagine Lamont Cramston and his grandfather finding something to talk about save their differences. He asked the question "Which world would you rather live in, if you had the choice?" which contributed to his later becoming of a policeman, and later something more than a cop. He says he likes the idea of adventure and feels bad unless he's doing good.
In 1938 the first issue of Action Comics was released and he asked a kid if he could glance through it, of course reading it eight times before returning it. Hollis recalls instant admiration for Superman, and notes that few may remember these comics, revealing that in the Watchmen's alternate reality, comics died along with super-heroes actually existing. Anyway, reading this comic set off a lot of his childhood's fantasies about rescuing the prettiest girl in class and his math teacher, Miss Albertine, who would then break off her engagement with the sarcastic English teacher, Mr. Richardson, because she was in love with her silent, grim-faced fourteen year-old student.
In autumn of the same year a news story was released concerning an attempted assault and robbery in Queens, a man and his girlfriend walking home from the theater were attacked by a gang of three men with guns. They stole all the valuables and began to beat and physically abuse the man while threatening to assault his girlfriend; at that point they were interrupted by a masked figure who disarmed the attackers before beating them with the severity to require their hospitalization, and one even lost use of both legs due to spinal injury. The witnesses' recounting was confused and contradictory. A week later, a supermarket stick-up was prevented by a man who crashed in through the window and attacked the man responsible with such intensity and savagery that those not disabled dropped their guns and surrendered. He was described as a 'tall man, built like a wrestler, who wore a black hood and cape and also wore a noose around his neck.' This article's headline read "Hooded Justice," giving the first masked adventurer his name. Hollis reread the article and knew that he had to be the second; he found his vocation.
|Under the Hood|
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