"It seems as if from being a novelty nine-day wonder, the super-hero has become a part of American life. It's here to stay. For better, or for worse."
—Hollis Mason, page 14 of Under the Hood
Hollis described the '50s as cold and bleak, both for himself and for masked adventurers in general. He recalled a number of jokes but only stated one, that suggested they were called the Minutemen due to their performance in the bedroom. He brought up that Sally Jupiter had a baby girl named Laurel Jane in 1949, about when her marital problems started. Their marriage ended in 1956, and Hollis thinks that even though she was a single mother, Sally did a first rate job bringing her daughter up into a bright, spunky youngster that any mother could be proud of. Hollis points out that things started to get serious, and how it's funny that how the more serious things got, the better the Comedian seemed to do. He was the only one of them still showing up in the front pages, and possibly through his government connections, was turning into some sort of patriotic symbol.
Besides the Comedian, the remaining active masked adventurers had to testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, and were forced to reveal their true identities to one of its representatives. This action didn't present any immediate problems for most of them, with Captain Metropolis' outstanding military record and Hollis' service in the police force, but Mothman had more difficulty because of left-wing friends he cultivated while a student. He was cleared, but the investigations were both lengthy and ruthless, and Hollis speculates that the pressure may have prompted his drinking problem that later contributed to his mental ill-health.
Hooded Justice was the only masked adventurer who refused to testify on the grounds that he was not prepared to reveal his true identity to anyone. When pressured, he vanished, which Hollis adds to be fairly easy for costumed heroes, because you simply have to take off your costume. Hollis sees it as likely that Hooded Justice had simply chosen to retire rather than reveal his identity. In an article in the New Frontiersman released almost a year after Hooded Justice vanished, the author mentions the disappearance of a circus strongman named Rolf Muller, who quit his job at the height of the Senate Subcommittee hearings. Three months later a badly decomposed body was washed up on the coast of Boston identified as Muller's that was shot through the head. Muller, the article stated, was East German, and his entire family had been on the run with fear of being uncovered during the Communist witch hunts, then implies he was executed by his own Red superiors. Mason finds it difficult how to react to the possibilty of Muller being Hooded Justice, and being a spy, and decides to accept it as a mystery.
Hollis notes that one of the big problems they had faced was the absence of costumed criminals. He claimed that stopping criminals without costumes felt kind of stupid and embarrassing, but there had never been as many costumed criminals as heroes. He says crooks turned in their costumes along with their careers, but some opted for a less extroverted and more profitable approach. He called them the new breed of villains who had colorful names but were ordinary men in business suits who ran drug and prostitution rackets, and although they still caused a lot of trouble, they were no fun to fight.
In the March of 1960, Dr. Manhattan arrived, making the term "masked hero" obsolete. He recalls the feelings of disbelief everyone had when they heard of a man who could walk through walls and teleport, then the first newsreel images of a blue man melting a tank with a wave of his hand and the fragments of a disassembled rifle floating in the air. Hollis feels that 'if you accept that floating rifle parts are real you also have to somehow accept that everything you've ever known to be a fact is probably untrue.' With a sense of fear and uncertainty, Hollis defined the emotions they felt by three words, "We've been replaced." At a charity event in the June of 1960, Hollis met Manhattan and found him to be a little distant, though admittedly more his fault than Manhattan's. 'It's a strange feeling,' he describes, 'the first time you meet him your brain wants to scream, blow a fuse and shut itself down immediately, refusing to accept that he exists,' but says the feeling only lasts for a couple of minutes, and after a while it almost seems normal.
In the closing months of 1958, a young adventurer named Ozymandias busted a major opium and heroin smuggling racket. This adventurer quickly gained a reputation amongst the criminal fraternity for his boundless and implacable intelligence and a large degree of athletic prowess. At the same charity event in the June of 1960, Hollis met him as well and simply described him as a 'nice young fellow.'
Red Cross charity event
At the same charity event, Red Cross relief for the ongoing famine in India, Hollis saw the Comedian imposing his overbearing personality and obnoxious cigar smoke on everyone in reach, and Mothman who had a glass in one hand and was slurring his words, letting his sentences trail off into incoherence. Captain Metropolis as well, with his paunch showing despite a strict regimen of Canadian Air Force Exercises. At the time Hollis was forty-six 'and starting to feel it,' and it was then that he decided to hang up his mask after twenty-three years, retire from the police force and get a proper job.
Recalling his happiest moments fixing cars with his father in Moe Vernon's yard, he saw no sweeter notion than to spend the rest of his life making dead vehicles run again. So in the May of 1962, when he wrote Under the Hood, he retired and started his own business, Mason's Auto Repairs. Hollis received a letter from a young man with a great admiration for his efforts and proposed to borrow his name and to follow his example as a new Nite Owl, so Hollis visited his home and witnessed the 'fabulous technology' he intended to bring to the war on crime. He also recalls that Sally Jupiter's daughter Laurie wants to be a super-heroine just like her mom.
- Hollis Mason does not know the fate of Hooded Justice, but Ozymandias reveals later in Issue #11 that the Comedian was assigned to track him down. While the Comedian denied finding Hooded Justice, Ozymandias, though unable to prove it, surmised that the Comedian killed him.
- According to the Watchmen Sourcebook, the death of Rolf Müller was reported in the February 11, 1956, issue of New Frontiersman. Mason suspects that Muller was Hooded Justice because of their similar physical build and time frame of disappearance.
|Under the Hood|
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