(Spoilers ahead for the Oct. 25 episode of “Riverdale”)
So this week, the hooded man who’s been terrorizing Riverdale and the surrounding environs sent a letter to the newspaper announcing that he calls himself the Black Hood and is out to get all the secrete degenerates around town.
Now, there’s no Black Hood character in the Archie comics, but there is a Black Hood in the Archie Comics (the publisher) superhero lineup, which appears today under the imprint Dark Circle. Let’s take a look at the long history of the comic book version of the character in order to see if we can gain any insight into who he is and what really is going on in Riverdale right now. It’s going to be tough because the comic book Black Hood is not a villain, and the one on the show is definitely a villain since he keeps shooting people and murdered poor Miss Grundy with a cello bow. Anyway.
The Black Hood first appeared in the Archie Comics universe in 1940. A superhero along the lines of Batman, he was a policeman framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and donned the hood to fight evil even if he couldn’t do it officially.
It was never quite clear whether Matthew Kipling “Kip” Burland had any sort of additional superpowers as the Black Hood, or if he was just strong and well-trained the way Batman was. But the character went on to become one of Archie Comics’ most popular in the Golden Age of comics, but as superhero comic popularity faded, so did the Black Hood.
The character has been revived several times over the years, though. He re-emerged in the 1960s as a founding member of Archie Comics’ Mighty Crusaders, and has been licensed by DC Comics as well.
The DC Black Hood, whose real name was Mateo Burland, was a former criminal who worked with drug dealers in Detroit. When Mateo tried to go straight, the crooks killed his sister. That led Mateo to take up the mantle of the Black Hood to get justice, turning him from a former criminal into a vigilante crime fighter.
But the iteration that’s most relevant to “Riverdale” is also the newest version of the Black Hood. In 2015, Archie Comics launched an imprint called Dark Circle Comics, where it came up with new imaginings of non-Archie characters. Among them was the Black Hood, who was reimagined as Philadelphia cop Greg Hettinger. In the 2015 Black Hood, Hettinger is shot in the face during a gunfight, disfiguring him, and he accidentally kills the man known as the Black Hood in the same fight (the second Black Hood, Thomas Burland, Matt’s nephew).
Addicted to painkillers, wracked with guilt and demoted on the force after being framed by a local drug ring, Hettinger dons the Black Hood’s mask and becomes a flawed but ultimately good vigilante. Hettinger’s mask is, notably, pretty similar to the one worn by the Black Hood on “Riverdale.”
The main parallel here, aside from the costume, is the vigilante aspect. The show’s Black Hood is definitely a bad guy, but he clearly does fashion himself as a vigilante even if he’s really just a murderer. Also, there’s been no character on “Riverdale” who has the same name as any of those iterations of the Black Hood, so otherwise there doesn’t appear to be much to glean from this info, unless the Black Hood really is just a brand new character who no ties to any existing ones. Which seems unlikely, because somebody who hasn’t been around probably wouldn’t know that Miss Grundy likes to bang her students.
So for now, keep on wondering what’s going on.