One of the signature heroes of Archie Comics, even before they were Archie Comics, The Black Hood has a lot of history behind him. Fortunately, I keep my feathers numbered for just such an emergency… Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Black Hoods!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and the only MLJ superhero to snag his own radio show (though only the pilot episode is still known to exist), Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN BLACK HOODS!
10) THE BLACK HOOD
The original Black Hood debuted with a bang back in 1940, and MLJ Comics was so sure that he’d be a success that his name appeared on the cover! (That was a real rarity in those earliest days of the Golden Age.) Kip Burland was an officer of the NYPD, framed for crimes by the mysterious criminal mastermind called The Skull. He was fired from the police, then badly wounded tracking the villain down. Fortunately for Officer Burland, he was rescued by a hermit who taught him how to punch evil, and even helped him make a new costume to avenge himself and his career. Eventually, Kip’s secret identity was revealed, and he gave up the costume but still punished the guilty as a private detective.
Immediately popular, The Black Hood is the only Archie superhero character to graduate beyond comics, with the aforementioned radio show, and of course our next entry.
9) THE BLACK HOOD
In September of 1941, The Black Hood made the leap to pulp magazines, which were aimed at more mature reading audiences. As such, his origin was altered, presenting District Attorney Kip Burland, whose frustration at seeing criminals slip through the cracks of the judicial system leads him to become a masked vigilante. In classic fly-by-night ’50s style, Black Hood’s first issue was somehow Black Hood Detective Volume 2 #8, with his next appearance becoming Hooded Detective Volume 3 #1. The third and final appearance of this Black Hood hit the stands in January of 1942.
8) THE BLACK HOOD
Remember that bit about Officer Kip giving up his mask? That happened near the end of his Golden Age run in the comics, which ended in 1946. The comic book superhero craze didn’t last that much longer, with most of the masked heroes disappearing before the dawn of the 1950s. By the end of the decade, though, Simon and Kirby’s Adventures of The Fly had shown an appetite for more costumed crusaders. Thus, The Black Hood reappeared in the book’s seventh issue for a team-up. And even though the conceit was that this was the same Black Hood, his bright red boots and trunks made this Kip Burland seem like an entirely different character and no explanation for his return to costumed life was given.
7) THE BLACK HOOD
By 1965, the Marvel Comics revolution was changing all the rules about Silver Age Comics, so when The Black Hood returns, he’s suddenly sporting a cape and riding a flying robot steed called Nightmare. It’s an odd choice for a hero who has always been presented as a street-level vigilante, and seeing him using a ray-gun (of unknown origin) is even more jarring. His mechanical horse is destroyed in the pages of Mighty Crusaders, where the Hood (treated as a new character, but once again using the secret identity of police officer Kip Burland) is seen to switch to a motorcycle to get around, a motif that is going to recur for future Hoods.
6) THE BLACK HOOD
This Black Hood, Thomas Kipling Burland (Kip to his pals) is a police detective whose frustrations with bringing down bad guys gets the attention of his uncle Matthew. Uncle Matt tells him the story of his days as a vigilante, passing down the Black Hood identity that the Burlands have used for generations, much like “The Phantom.” This Black Hood was created, and his solo stories were written and drawn in the mid-1970s, but didn’t actually appear for almost a decade, as part of a different Archie superhero relaunch. His all-black costume and hard-boiled demeanor make him one of my favorite of the various Hoods.
It’s also clear from the story that neither Thomas Kip nor Matthew Kip are the original ’40s Black Hood, though later stories stitch their histories together.
5) THE BLACK HOOD
Case in point, by 1983, Archie had once again relaunched The Mighty Crusaders, using the Thomas Kip Black Hood in his cool black leather biker gear. Despite his origin clearly showing that Matthew Kip was NOT the original 1940s Black Hood, the pages of Mighty Crusaders featured Uncle Matt returning to action as that hero and dying in the line of duty. Thomas Kip takes up the yellow costume to honor his uncle’s sacrifice, but because several stories from the never-completed 1973 relaunch appeared out of sequence, he kept switching back and forth until the ’80s revival ground to a halt.
4) THE BLACK HOOD
The next time we saw a Black Hood in action was during the Impact Comics era, published under the auspices of DC Comics. This Hood was fast food franchiser Wayne Sidmondson, who collected historical artifacts… but only those related to executions and/or torture. The purchase of a Middle Ages executioner’s hood gave him more than he bargained for, cursing him to do good. Since it was 1991, the era of the antihero, he channeled his inner Charles Bronson and became a Punisher-style vigilante. Sidmondson appeared in a series of annuals hyping up the first issue of his comic…
…wherein he was shot dead.
The bait-and-switch left his cursed hood in the hands of Giles Coffee, known to his friends as “Hit”, which is a pleasant change from the fourteen guys named Kip we’ve seen Archie’s editorial teams try to claim are the same fellow. This Black Hood eventually fell into the hands of young Nate Cray, who was the primary Black Hood for the rest of the run, eventually becoming an experienced hero and a central player in the Crucible series that attempted to revamp the Impact line.
Though it didn’t relaunch things the way the creators hoped, designs and pencils for a post-Crucible Black Hood series do exist, which gives us a more mature (and very Wolverine-influenced) Nate Cray Black Hood.
3) THE BLACK HOOD
Though short-lived, the Impact Comics era far outstrips DC’s next attempt to license Archie/MLJ heroes, in which we meet former drug cartel enforcer, Mateo Burland. After trying to get out of the game, Mateo was badly wounded and saved by The Web, who foolishly let him run loose in a former JLA headquarters. Gathering some enhanced body armor and a couple of special pistols, Mateo declared himself a new Black Hood, even joining a new team of Crusaders. Sadly, the entire initiative barely lasted two years, and Mateo disappeared after just a handful of appearances.
2) THE BLACK HOOD
Like so many Hoods before him, Officer Greg Hettinger is a police officer with a motorcycle, but rather than being framed for a crime he didn’t commit, he was severely injured and disfigured in a gunfight. His assailant was one Kip Burland, known as The Black Hood, whom the police had apparently been trying to bring down for years. After getting out of the hospital, Greg became addicted to pain pills, and in a drug-induced haze, became a new Black Hood almost entirely by accident. His adventures are the darkest, grimmest Black Hood ever committed to paper, part of an attempt to court older fans who like their comics full of f-bombs and existential dread.
1) THE BLACK HOOD
Question: What dresses like Hit Coffee, is described like Nate Cray but makes no sense in any given previous continuity?
Answer: Nobody knows, but somehow, he’s still named Kip.
Revealed in the fall of 2020 with a great deal of hooplah, Rob Liefeld’s revamp of the Archie/MLJ heroes was dead on arrival, as he left the project before a single issue was released. As of this writing, this panel is the entirety of the latest Black Hood’s publishing history, and even if you’ve been skimming the entries so far, it raises more questions than it could ever really answer.
Once again, this week’s topic, Ten Black Hoods, is all me, but feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra to suggest a topic of your own! There’s always more Ten Things madness on my Twitter or check out the full Twitter archive here! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, if only because Archie Comics has probably rebooted twice while you were reading this. Either way, the comments section is below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!