Welcome back to the Robin round up! We only got two left and this one is a sad one. Jason Todd, the tragic Robin, while he’s not the only one to die on the job, he is the first and his has much more attached to it. As opposed to Stephanie and Damien’s deaths, which were planned out and only had those in charge to commit to them, Jason was different. Voted to die by a jury of his audience, they deemed him unfit to live any longer during a call-in event to choose his fate. By not even 100 more votes, Jason Todd died, but like many comic characters, that doesn’t mean the end, let’s see what happened to this fallen Boy Wonder.
Originally, Jason Todd was just the same as Dick Grayson, a kid acrobat whose parents were killed performing. He was pretty much a bland carbon copy of the first Robin and when it came time to redo continuity for the post-Crisis of Infinite Earths’ DC Universe, Jason would get his own unique origin for himself.
Jason Peter Todd was a product of Gotham City, his father a criminal who abandoned his family and his mother a drug addict who was mostly out of it, leaving Jason to fend for himself and his mother. He’d find an affinity for stealing car parts, especially tires, to get the cash to keep his mom and he going. His mother would die from an overdose and leave poor Jason alone to fight on for survival. His thievery would bring him to Crime Alley one night when Batman was visiting the spot his parents were killed at. Jason had the gall to begin stealing the Batmobile’s tires when Batman caught him in the act, impressed by the boy’s skill and audacity.
Sensing so much anger in the boy, Batman had sent him to a boarding school but it turned out that place was bad news and both Batman and Jason had to stop the headmaster from training a new generation of criminals. Not wanting Jason’s anger to win out and with Dick Grayson having left the mantle of Robin to become Nightwing, Batman decided to take Jason under his wing (simple joke).
The first real mission on the job as Robin had Jason learn that his father had been killed by Two-Face, hell of a start. What is up with Two-Face and his weird animosity towards the Robins? Is it cause he used to be Batman’s BFF and sees these kids as usurpers? Weird, dude, weird. Jason beats Two-Face brutally but is able to reign in his anger and leave Two-Face for Batman to take in. This would be one of the few times Jason would be able to maintain such control over his rage.
Enthusiasm and brashness are a dangerous combination and Jason had plenty of both. His decisions as Robin would often lead to violent responses such as distracting foes with gunfire, which Batman is anti-gun if you didn’t know that about a guy who watched his parents get shot to death. A big one though was when Jason let a nasty criminal die, possibly having pushed him to his death. Things like this and other questionable methods Jason would employ caused Batman to request Barbara Gordon to help with Jason. Working with Barbara proved helpful but she still saw that there was much to worry about and warned Batman.
Learning that the mother who raised him was not the mother who birthed him, Jason would travel all the way around the world to the country of Ethiopia to find his still living biological mother. Unfortunately Joker had gotten involved and had been bribing Sheila, Jason’s birth mother, so she would betray the boy wonder and the mother and son would be held captive by Joker. Joker would brutally beat Jason with a crowbar and leave the two to die by explosive, Batman did not arrive in time to save them and had to find Jason’s corpse. Batman would consider the death of Jason his greatest failure since he felt he pushed the boy into the life of a vigilante when what he really needed was just for someone to care for him.
Originally, “thanks” to the reality-altering punches of Superboy Prime, Jason Todd is resurrected but still left horribly injured from the Joker’s beating. Eventually it’s all tied to just Ra’s and Talia al Ghul taking the corpse of Jason and reviving him in a Lazarus Pit as a form of supreme vengeance against Batman. Jason would take leave from the al Ghul’s but the damage of death, Lazarus Pit and League of Assassins training left him warped. Enraged to learn that the Joker still lived, Jason began to plan how to spend his new lease on life.
Taking on the mantle of the Red Hood, a criminal identity used by many over the years and was once used by Joker, Jason took on a deadlier form of vigilantism. Upon his first encounter with Batman he puts up a strong fight and leaves having learned what has been going on in his absence. Beating Joker nearly to death, Jason keeps him alive so he can use him in his plans against Batman.
Taking control of several of Gotham’s gangs as the Red Hood, Jason begins a gang war against the Black Mask. Ready to fight fire with fire to remove Gotham’s crime and corruption, Jason comes to blows with Batman and company over how to protect Gotham. Batman realizes that Jason’s grave is empty and is the Red Hood, the memorial of Jason’s Robin costume in the Batcave is no longer a reminder of the life of Jason Todd, but of the person Jason used to be.
Realizing it was time to have a heart to heart with his successor, Jason goes to Titans Tower and takes out the current team and fights with Tim Drake. Tim impresses Jason and realizes his own life might be different had he been more like Tim and had friends like he had.
Kidnapping the Joker and holding him hostage in Crime Alley, Jason confronts Batman about why he never took vengeance for his death. Batman explains that killing the Joker isn’t difficult, and that is the problem, Batman could easily kill the Joker and others like him, but then how does Batman not become just a mirror of those he fights? Jason is disgusted and claims that if Batman doesn’t kill him, he’ll kill the Joker. I guess Jason forgot that this is literally something Batman faces on nearly a daily basis in regards to saving lives and Batman is easily able to stop him but the Joker takes advantage of the situation and blows up the place with everyone involved escaping.
After the events of One Year Later, Jason has taken to New York City as Nightwing and Dick arrives to stop this new Nightwing. The two eventually have to join forces to take down a criminal organization and in the end Jason leaves both the mantle and NYC, giving Dick a note saying he still sees him as family. During the events of Countdown Jason is traveling through alternate dimensions and finds a reality where Batman did kill Joker after Jason’s death. This Batman is a murderous vigilante and wants Jason to join him but is then killed before the two can begin their new legacy as Batman and Red Robin.
After returning and the events that lead to Batman being presumed dead, Jason and Tim fight many times with one another. Upon hearing the last will and testament of Bruce Wayne, where Batman apologizes to Jason for having put him through hell, Jason attempts to take over as Batman. Still being a killer, it is up to the rest of the Batfamily to put Jason out of the cowl and let Dick take over. Jason is reinvigorated upon seeing an all new Batman and Robin and takes on his own sidekick, Scarlet, a victim of the criminal Professor Pyg. The two become social media darlings as they try to win over the public over Batman and Robin and their methods. This continues until so much chaos causes the adventures of Red Hood and Scarlet to fall apart.
After Bruce Wayne returns and establishes Batman Incorporated to give every country a Batman, Jason rejoins the Bat-Family in secret as Wingman. It is assumed that his acceptance is tumultuous by Damian but Bruce and Dick both agree that Jason is needed. In the New 52 Jason is leading the Outsiders and is still the Red Hood. He and Tim have shown to get along well enough while Jason and Batman are still on the rocks.
So that is the rise, fall, and return of Jason Todd, the second Robin. He had it rough, every family he had was never exactly ideal and it was difficult to handle life after death. Jason was so full of anger and earnest desire to fight crime that all that happened to him seems almost natural. Yes, dying and being resurrected in a pool after being raised on the streets and trained by Batman to have him become a violent vigilante seems like a sad, but understandable progression. Perhaps one day Jason and the Bat-family can become one again for more than just short periods of time. Good luck, Jason.
Death in the Family
Batman and Robin
Under the Hood