Jason Todd

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Jason Todd
Jason Todd as the Red Hood, from Batman #638 (June 2005). Art by Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance as Jason Todd:
Batman #357 (March 1983)
as Robin:
Batman #366 (December 1983)
origin revamp:
Batman #408 (June 1987)
as Red Hood:
Batman #635 (February 2005)
Created by Original incarnation:
Gerry Conway
Don Newton
Red Hood incarnation:
Judd Winick
Doug Mahnke
In-story information
Full name Jason Peter Todd[1]
Species Human
Team affiliations Batman Family
Batman Inc.
Teen Titans
Challengers From Beyond
All Caste
The Outlaws
Wayne Enterprises
Partnerships Batman (Bruce Wayne)
Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
Red Robin (Tim Drake)
Robin (Damian Wayne)
Oracle (Barbara Gordon)
Talia al Ghul
Hush
Riddler
Scarlet
Arsenal (Roy Harper)
Starfire (Koriand'r)
Notable aliases Robin, Red Hood, Nightwing, Hush, Red Robin, Wingman, Batman[2]
Abilities
  • Excellent acrobat and marksman
  • Deadly hand-to-hand combatant
  • Access to high-caliber weaponry

Jason Peter Todd is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. Jason first appeared in Batman #357 (March 1983)[3] and became the second Robin, sidekick to the superhero Batman, when the previous Robin (Dick Grayson) went on to star in The New Teen Titans, and later under the moniker of Nightwing.

Though initially popular, following a revamping of his origin by Max Allan Collins, the Jason Todd version of Robin as written by Jim Starlin was not well received by fans. For 1988's "Batman: A Death in the Family" storyline, DC Comics held a telephone poll to determine whether or not the character would die at the hands of the Joker, Batman's nemesis. The character was killed off by a vote of 5,343 to 5,271. Subsequent Batman stories dealt with Batman's guilt over not having been able to prevent Jason's death.

However, in 2005's "Under the Hood" story arc, the character was resurrected, eventually becoming the second Red Hood and assuming a new role as an antihero who resembles Batman in many ways, except with a willingness to use lethal force and weapons.[4]

In June 2010, Jason Todd was featured in Red Hood: The Lost Days, a six-issue miniseries to coincide with the release of the DC animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood. The story, written by Judd Winick (who also wrote the film), concentrated on Jason's lost years of globe-trotting and training after his death and resurrection before his return to Gotham. DC Comics announced in June 2011 that Jason would lead a group of antiheroes in The New 52 series, Red Hood and the Outlaws. The series debuted in September 2011, with other members including Arsenal and Starfire.[5]

Publication history[edit]

Cover to Batman #408 (June 1987). Depicting the first post-Crisis meeting of Batman and Jason Todd.

By the time Len Wein took over as editor of DC Comics' Batman titles in 1982, the original Robin, Dick Grayson, had largely moved on to starring as the leader of the young superhero team the Teen Titans in DC's New Teen Titans title. However, with the character no longer featured in Batman comics, the disadvantages of telling Batman stories without the character to act as a sounding board for the protagonist became apparent.[6] Todd was created as Dick Grayson's replacement as Robin. Jason debuted in Detective Comics #524 (March 1983), but the character did not appear in costume as Robin until Detective Comics #526 (May 1983).

Following the 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC took the opportunity to reboot many of its properties. Todd's character was completely revamped and the new version of the character was not well received by fans. Dennis O'Neil, who took over as Batman editor in 1986, said, "They did hate him. I don't know if it was fan craziness—maybe they saw him as usurping Dick Grayson's position. Some of the mail response indicated that this was at least on some people's minds."[7]

"A Death in the Family"[edit]

In 1988, Dennis O'Neil suggested that an audience might be attracted to the comics by being offered the opportunity to influence the creative process.[8] Settling on the idea of telephone poll via a 1-900 number, O'Neil had decided due to discussions with DC Comics president Jenette Kahn that the poll should not be wasted on something insignificant. O'Neil settled on using the poll to determine the fate of the new Robin. O'Neil said, "The logical candidate was Jason because we had reason to believe that he wasn't that popular anyway. It was a big enough stunt that we couldn't do it with a minor character."[9] Even though Jason Todd was unpopular with readers, O'Neil could not decide what to do with the character, so he opted to present the choice to the readership.[8]

The vote was set up in the four-part story "A Death in the Family" that was published in Batman #426–429 in 1988. At the end of Batman #427, Todd was beaten by the Joker and left to die in an explosion. The inside back cover of the issue listed two 1-900 numbers that readers could call to vote for the character's death or survival. Within the 36-hour period allotted for voting, the poll received 10,614 votes. The verdict in favor of the character's death won by a slim margin of 5,343 votes to 5,271.[10] The following issue of Batman, issue 428, was published featuring Todd's death. Years later, O'Neil would admit hundreds of votes in the "Jason Dies" line came from a single person, adding a large degree of uncertainty to the honesty of results regarding a poll designed to determine the character's popularity. "I heard it was one guy, who programmed his computer to dial the thumbs down number every ninety seconds for eight hours, who made the difference", O'Neil said in a Newsarama interview conducted alongside writer Judd Winick during the "Under The Hood" arc.[11] Based on O'Neil's information, that figures out to 320 votes over eight hours from one person or roughly six percent of the death line's total calls. O'Neil would later repeat the claim with further specifics: "I heard it was a lawyer who was using a MacIntosh and lived in California — I obviously don’t have hard information on this, but I heard someone out there programmed his computer to dial it every couple of minutes, and since there was only about 65 votes that made the difference, if that story is true, that guy, that guy killed Jason Todd!"[12]

Interior art of Batman #428 (1988): "A Death in the Family". Art by Jim Aparo.

Despite the poll results, O'Neil noted, "We did the deed, and we got a blast of hate mail and a blast of negative commentary in the press."[13] A few comics creators voiced their displeasure at the event. Writer/artist Frank Miller, who had worked on Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, said, "To me the whole killing of Robin thing was probably the ugliest thing I've seen in comics, and the most cynical."[14] However, DC stood behind the outcome of the poll. O'Neil was quoted on the back cover of A Death in the Family trade paperback collecting the story with Todd's death as saying, "It would be a really sleazy stunt to bring him back."[15] O'Neil would later regret his comment.[16]

There was a degree of discontinuity between the Batman and Detective Comics titles with regards to the portrayal of Jason Todd. A great deal of adventures occurred post-Crisis which fit with the circus acrobat era and in some cases ran simultaneously in Detective as the street kid origin was being laid out in Batman. This led to a blackout of almost any Robin appearances in Detective. This became especially apparent after his death. Eleven months passed between Jason's death in Batman #428 and the first mention of his passing in Detective Comics #606.

In 1989 Denny O'Neil, Marv Wolfman and Pat Broderick would introduce Tim Drake, who would later go on as the third Robin. Mindful of the poor reception Jason received from readers, O'Neil arranged for a more nuanced introduction in which Tim first introduced himself to Dick Grayson and impressed the former Robin with his skills and was revealed to share a history with Grayson. Batman himself would slowly grow to accept Tim as his new partner, although the memory of Jason would continue to play a heavy part in his behavior towards partners and how he trained Tim in the months building up to his official appearance as Robin.[17][18]

"Hush" and reintroduction[edit]

Jason Todd as Red Hood, from Batman Annual #25. Art by Shane Davis.

Prior to the release of Batman #617 (September 2003), a page of art from the issue by artist Jim Lee circulated the Internet, apparently revealing the mystery villain Hush, who was the focus of Lee and writer Jeph Loeb's "Hush" storyline, as a resurrected Jason Todd. The following month's Batman #618 (October 2003) revealed that the appearance of Todd was in fact a ruse by the villain Clayface under the direction of the Riddler and Hush. Loeb explained, "I always liked Jason, liked the idea that Batman had a Robin who died in the line of duty and how that would motivate anyone to continue their quest. It would also be the most recent, most painful thing he had to endure. That's why Hush played the card—to get inside Batman's head... But 'Hush' wasn't about Jason—Jason was a pawn to be moved around the table... If someone else wanted to tell another Jason story or bring him back and we at least opened the door, that's great!"[19]

In 2005, writer Judd Winick began the Under the Hood storyline that revolved around the mystery of the identity of the new Red Hood. The character's identity was revealed as Todd in Batman #638. Winick explained that after his initial arc on the Batman title, he suggested doing "something big" to his editors. Specifically, he wanted to bring Jason Todd back from the dead. Winick said, "I was less interested in the how and the why and the what of Jason Todd returning from the dead than I am about what Jason’s return will do to Batman. Now."[19] The explanation for the character's return was revealed in Batman Annual #25 (2006). After a storyline in Nightwing as part of the One Year Later event where Todd took the mantle of Nightwing for himself, the character reappeared in his Red Hood persona as one of the focal characters of DC's year-long weekly Countdown series starting in May 2007.

"Battle for the Cowl"[edit]

In the Batman R.I.P. follow-up storyline Batman: Battle for the Cowl, Todd is featured as a gun-wielding vigilante. Commenting on the direction and utilization of Jason Todd in the storyline, writer and artist Tony Daniel has stated that, from this point on, Jason is a "bona fide" villain:[2]

At this point [Jason] is beyond the point of no return in terms of ever being considered even remotely a hero. What I wanted to do here is put him in a place that he can't come back from. The things that he does here in Battle for the Cowl are things that can never really be forgiven. The only outcome would have to be imprisonment or something worse. But from this point on for Jason the gray area between good and bad has disappeared. It's crystal clear now that he is on the dark side.

Todd battles the Batman Family one by one until he is defeated by Nightwing, who then takes up the mantle of Batman. However, before falling from a train into a dark abyss, he gives an ominous warning that he will be seen again.

Jason Todd as Red Hood, from Red Hood and the Outlaws #1; art by Kenneth Rocafort.

The Outlaws[edit]

On June 6, 2011,[5] as part of DC Comics' line-wide revamp initiative, it was announced Jason Todd will headline his own title in the guise of the Red Hood. Todd will act as leader of the Outlaws, a group of antiheroes that will "have several different exciting characters from the DC Universe – some we've seen before and some we haven't," Batman Group Editor Mike Marts said.[5] The group will include Roy Harper and Starfire. Red Hood and the Outlaws debuted in September 2011, written by Scott Lobdell and with art by Kenneth Rocafort.[5] The series has focused on Jason Todd's redemption, and introduced a simplified version of his origin story as the Red Hood in Red Hood and the Outlaws #0, a special prequel issue between #12 and #13.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths[edit]

The initial version of Jason "Jay" Todd from before Crisis on Infinite Earths had an origin that was virtually identical[20] to the 1940 origin of the first Robin, Dick Grayson.[6] Originally, like Grayson, Todd is the son of circus acrobats, Joseph and Trina Todd, killed by a criminal (Killer Croc) and is later adopted by Bruce Wayne.[21] Distinguished by strawberry blond hair (Grayson has black hair), Todd is wearing various pieces of Dick Grayson's old childhood disguises as costume to fight crime until Grayson presents him with a Robin costume of his own. At that point, Todd dyes his hair black, and in later stories blossoms under Batman's tutelage.

For a time Natalia Knight, the criminal also known as Nocturna, Mistress of the Night is a stabilizing influence in his life; she becomes his surrogate mother and even adopts a young Todd. Catwoman would be a frequent guest star during this era as she wrestled with the role of hero and as a love interest for Batman which led to clashes with the boy feeling left-out.

In the Alan Moore epic Superman Annual #11, "For the Man Who Has Everything", Batman and Todd join Wonder Woman at the Fortress of Solitude to celebrate Superman's birthday. They arrive only to find Superman incapacitated by a mysterious creature and Mongul there to battle the heroes. Todd as Robin saves Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman from Mongul by unleashing Mongul's own hallucination-causing creature on the tyrant himself.

Todd also tackled the drug problem in his school, hauling in the local pushers who were muscled up with Two-Face. One of the more memorable moments of this era occurred in Detective Comics #569 when Batman forbade Jason from using "Holy!" puns.

Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths[edit]

Origin[edit]

Following the revamp of the Batman mythos due to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Jason Todd is recast as a young street orphan who first encounters the Dark Knight while attempting to steal the tires off the Batmobile in Crime Alley. Jason, the son of Willis and Catherine Todd, lives on the East end of Gotham, in the Park Row district called Crime Alley. Todd's mother was a drug addict who died of an overdose some time before he began living on the street. His father Willis was working as hired muscle for Two-Face and had disappeared suspiciously following a botched assignment. Bruce Wayne sees to it that Todd is placed in a school for troubled youths which turns out to be Ma Gunn's School for Crime. Jason earns the mantle of Robin a short while later by helping Batman apprehend the gang of thieves. However, Todd does not wear the Robin costume (an improved version of the classic) until six months of training.[22] Batman notes that while Todd doesn't possess Dick Grayson's natural athleticism & acrobatic skills, he can become a productive crimefighter by channeling his rage. He also believes that if he doesn't help the boy, Todd will eventually become part of the "criminal element."

In the revamp period, Todd is portrayed as the "rebel" Robin. He smokes, swears, and fights authority. He is prone to defying Batman's orders, sometimes to success (bringing in Scarecrow singlehandedly) and sometimes failure (botching a raid on a drug lab by jumping the gun too soon). Todd also aided Batman while Gotham City was temporarily overrun by Deacon Blackfire as shown in Batman: The Cult.

The most controversial moment prior to his death occurred in Batman #424. It involved a serial rapist named Felipe Garzonas, who escapes prosecution due to his father's diplomatic immunity. One of his victims, a girl named Gloria, hangs herself amid the threat of a third rape from Felipe. Todd discovers her hanging and makes a beeline for Felipe, ahead of Batman, who arrives just in time to see Felipe take a 22 story fall to his death, with Todd as Robin at the edge of the balcony. Todd maintains "I guess I spooked him. He slipped." This highlights an earlier exchange in Batman #422 where he uses excessive force on a pimp about to slash one of his working girls and Todd asks Batman if it "would've been such a big loss if I had (killed him)?" Whether Todd pushed the rapist from the roof is never known.

In Batman #425, the Dynamic Duo is challenged by Felipe's father when he kidnaps Commissioner Gordon in retaliation for his son's death. Batman is instructed to meet the kidnappers at a city junkyard and to bring Robin. Batman does not wish to involve Todd and keeps this information from him. However, Robin senses something is wrong and hides in the Batmobile's trunk as Batman heads to the junkyard. There, Batman is unable to reach Gordon, surrounded by Garzonas' men, and Todd intervenes, saving Batman from a close call. Machine gunfire breaks out and Gordon is wounded in the arm. All of the henchmen die, and Garzonas is finally crushed by a pile of junk cars. Batman speaks to Todd of consequences to actions while the boy stares at the dead and the wounded Gordon for a moment before walking off.

Death[edit]

In 1988's "A Death in the Family" storyline, Jason Todd discovers that Catherine Todd was not his biological mother, and runs away to find the woman who gave birth to him. After following a number of leads, including an Israeli Mossad agent and Shiva Woo-San, Todd finally tracks his mother, Sheila, to Ethiopia, where she works as an aid worker. While Todd is overjoyed to be reunited with his real mother, he soon discovers that she is being blackmailed by the Joker, who is using her to provide him with medical supplies. Sheila herself has been embezzling from the aid agency and as part of the cover-up, she hands her own son, who arrives as Robin, over to the Joker. The Joker beats the boy brutally with a crowbar, and then leaves him and Sheila in the warehouse with a time bomb. Sheila and Robin try desperately to get out of the warehouse but are still inside as the bomb goes off. Batman arrives too late to save them, and finds Jason's lifeless body in the rubble. Sheila lives just long enough to tell Batman that Jason died trying to protect her. The bodies are taken back to Gotham City for burial. Todd's death haunts Batman, and he considers it his greatest failure. He keeps the second Robin's uniform on display in the Batcave as a reminder. The murder of Todd, along with the maiming of Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), in Batman: The Killing Joke, intensifies Batman's obsession with the Joker.

Return from the Grave[edit]

Interior art of Batman #617 (2003). The apparent return of Jason Todd. Art by Jim Lee.

Years later, while trying to discover the identity of a mysterious figure plotting against him (which turns out to be Hush), Batman discovers that Robin (Tim Drake) has been kidnapped. When he confronts the kidnapper, he discovers, much to his surprise, that the kidnapper is apparently an adult Jason Todd, standing at his own desecrated grave site. Batman subdues this mystery "Jason" and discovers that it is only Clayface impersonating Todd, concluding that "Jason's" greater physical age was to hide the flaws in Clayface's impersonation by allowing him to partially mimic Nightwing's combat skills; duplicating Drake's movements would not work as his movements were too familiar, but Batman's less regular contact with Nightwing would make him unsure. However, Todd's body is missing from its grave.[23]

It is later revealed that Todd had indeed died at the hands of the Joker. However, when Superboy-Prime alters reality from the paradise dimension in which he is trapped — his punches against the barrier keeping him from the rest of the universe causing temporal ripples — Todd is restored to life, breaks out of his coffin, and is eventually hospitalized; having wandered so far from his grave before his discovery, no connection was ever drawn between the two events, with groundskeepers covering up the disturbed grave rather than report it, and Batman's security systems was only meant for someone from outside the grave. Todd never turns up on any missing persons reports - as he was never 'missing' - nor can he be identified since no prints are on file for him. After spending a year in a coma and subsequently another year as an amnesiac vagrant after escaping the hospital, he is taken by Talia al Ghul after a small-time crook recognizes him as Robin due to his combat skills on the street.

Talia took Todd in out of her love for Batman, while her father, Ra's al Ghul, was interested in the secret behind his resurrection. The League of Assassins tracked and eliminated everyone in Gotham who knew of Todd's resurrection to prevent Batman from finding out. They also interrogated the Joker's henchmen who were with him during Todd's murder, in hopes to find out how the boy could have survived.[24] Talia later restored Todd's health and memory by immersing him in a Lazarus Pit in which her father was also bathing and helped him escape the house of al Ghul. It is suggested by Ra's that the power of the pit resulted in Todd's mental instability. Ra's refers to Todd as a "curse" and a "pestilence" unleashed on the planet, saying that madness may affect him in "hours, months, or decades".

Using the money from Talia and infuriated by her statement that he "remains unavenged", Todd paid a group of mercenaries to help him return to Gotham. Upon arriving, he enacts a plan to get revenge on Batman, who Todd is convinced deserves to die for failing to avenge his death.

The Lost Days[edit]

He creates a false arms trafficking of advance military arsenal, knowing that Batman would respond. This provides Jason an opportunity to plant a bomb beneath the Batmobile while Batman is on a stakeout for the arms deal. Batman enters the car and is at Jason's mercy, detonator in hand. However, Todd realizes that his former mentor would never know about his return nor the identity of his killer. Todd decides to kill Batman directly by traveling across the globe in search of a similar, yet deadlier type of training as Bruce received to prepare for that day.[1][25] For years, Todd learns various skills from various masters, assassins, mercenaries, and aviators around the globe, including guns, poisons and antitoxins, martial arts, acrobatics, and bomb-making. Upon learning that the man training him in lethal combat is also the leader of a child sex slave ring, Jason frees the latest shipment of children and takes them to a local embassy, then returns to the training compound and poisons his new mentor for his crimes. Upon being questioned by Talia, Todd says it was not murder but rather that he "...put down a reptile."[26] Jason has since repeated the same pattern of killing his teachers when finding them guilty after he has finished with his training.

During his journey, Jason discovers that Batman has replaced him as Robin with another boy named Timothy Drake, which further torments him. He also learns that the man teaching him bomb-making is involved in a Russian mafia-backed deal meant to push the resources of British law enforcement away from mob crime and onto Jihadi terrorism with a framed bombing plot. Todd manages to hunt down the gang and safely detonate the bombs. Ironically, the only surviving member of the gang offers Jason the possibility of a large government payday in exchange for his life, because he knows where a very wanted man is. That wanted man turns out to be the Joker.[26][27][28]

After learning of the Joker's arms deal in Los Angeles for another terrorism plot, Jason begins to stalk the villain as a masked assassin. After successfully capturing the Joker (who fails to recognize him), Jason contemplates burning him alive after dousing him with gasoline. However, Jason realizes that he does not simply want the Joker to die, but desires to punish both him and Batman. Jason spares the Joker and decides to wait for the right opportunity. Jason also admits to Talia that he has already deduced that the reason she finances his training is to stall him from killing Batman, but he has no desire to kill his former mentor anymore. Talia then gives Todd the idea to be the Batman that Gotham needs. Jason Todd enters into a pact with Hush and the Riddler. He confirms to Hush that the Riddler is correct that Bruce Wayne is Batman. As Hush, Riddler, and Jason collaborate, Jason initially confronts Batman at his own gravesite. Jason then switches places with Clayface in order to observe Batman from afar. When Batman expresses no remorse for sparing the Joker's life after the second Robin was killed, Todd is further angered and takes up his murderer's original mantle of the Red Hood. After she initiated a takeover of Kord Industries for him, Talia gives Jason a flame dagger (a replica of the one Ra's al Ghul often carried) and a red helmet as gifts, and they become his signature weapon and mask.[1][29]

Red Hood[edit]

Shortly after the events of "War Games" and just before "War Crimes", Jason Todd reappears in Gotham City as the Red Hood.[30] He hijacks a shipment of Kryptonite from Black Mask, and in the midst of a battle with Batman, Nightwing, and Mr. Freeze, the Red Hood gives them the Kryptonite back, and tells them he has gotten what he truly wanted: a "lay of the land." Shortly afterward, the Red Hood finds the Joker (driven out of Gotham by Hush) and beats him with a crowbar just as the Joker had beaten Jason. Despite the violence of the beating, Jason spares the Joker, intending to use him later against Batman.

The Red Hood assumes control over several gangs in Gotham City and starts a one-man war against Black Mask's criminal empire. Overall, he strives to take over Gotham's gangs, control their activities, and to kill the Joker in revenge for his own death. In his new role as Gotham's most powerful crime lord, he repeatedly comes to blows with Batman and several of his allies. A Robin mask is found in the Batmobile, which never belonged to Dick or Tim, but is of the style that Todd wore as Robin, suggesting that he'd been stalking Batman.[31] After their encounter in the cemetery, Batman becomes obsessed with the possibility of resurrection from the dead, and seeks advice from allies such as Superman and Green Arrow, both of whom have died and returned to life. Around this time, Batman discovers that Jason's coffin has always been empty, and he begins to question whether or not Todd had actually died; Todd would later informs Batman the details of him digging out of his grave thus he was categorically deceased. Nevertheless, Batman keeps Jason's Robin costume in its memorial display case in the Batcave; when Alfred Pennyworth asks if he wants the costume removed, Batman sadly replies that the return of Todd "doesn't change anything at all."[32]

Acting on his obsession with Tim Drake, Todd breaks into Titans Tower to confront the new Robin, thus revealing the truth of their first encounter at the cemetery to his successor. Wearing an altered version of his own Robin costume, Todd quickly immobilizes the other Titans and strikes Drake down in the Tower's Hall of Fallen Titans. Furious that no memorial statue was made for him (despite his short tenure as a Titan), he demands that Drake tell him if he is really as good as Todd has been told. Drake says "Yes" and passes out. As he leaves, he tears the 'R' emblem from Drake's chest, though later admitting that Drake has talent. Todd is also left wondering if perhaps he would have been a better Robin and better person had he a life like Drake's and friends like the Titans.[33]

Todd eventually kidnaps the Joker and holds him hostage, luring Batman to Crime Alley, the site of their first meeting. Despite their now-antagonistic relationship, Batman desperately wants to help Todd, and intends to atone for his own failures. Todd asks Batman why he has not avenged his death by killing the Joker, who has murdered countless people and crippled one of their best friends, and simply "doing it because he took me away from you". Batman then admits that he has often fantasized about taking the Joker somewhere private and torturing him for weeks before finally killing him, but refuses to go to that place. Todd offers Batman an ultimatum: he will kill the Joker unless Batman kills Todd first. Holding the Joker at gunpoint, he throws a pistol to Batman and begins to count to three while standing behind the Joker, leaving Batman with only a headshot if he wants to stop Todd pulling the trigger. At the last moment, Batman throws a batarang, which ricochets off a pipe behind Todd and hits him in the throat, causing him to drop his gun. The Joker takes advantage of the situation, detonating nearby explosives that engulf the platform and send them plunging into the bay.[1]

Nightwing[edit]

Todd resurfaces following the "One Year Later" period, patrolling the streets of New York City as a murderous version of Nightwing. However, Jason shows no intention of giving up the Nightwing persona when confronted by Dick Grayson, and continues to taunt Grayson by wearing the costume and suggesting that the two become a crime-fighting team. Not long after the two Nightwings meet up, Todd is captured and imprisoned by local mobsters Barry and Buddy Pierce. Grayson reluctantly rescues him, and the two join forces to defeat the Pierce Brothers. Shortly afterward, Todd leaves New York City and the Nightwing mantle to Grayson, along with a telegram telling Grayson he has returned to normal and still considers himself a gift from Batman.[34]

Red Hood again[edit]

Jason Todd resumes his persona as the Red Hood and appears in several issues of "Green Arrow" alongside Brick as part of a gun-running organization, which brings Batman to Star City. Jason's true motives are shown in the third part as he kidnaps Mia Dearden in an effort to dissolve her partnership with Green Arrow, feeling that they are kindred spirits, cast down by society and at odds with their mentors. The two fight while Todd discusses the insanity of heroes for placing child sidekicks in danger. Mia is deeply troubled by the discussion, but ultimately decides to remain with Green Arrow.

At the start of Countdown, Todd rescues a woman from Duela Dent — the Jokester's daughter.[35] After a Monitor shoots and kills Duela, he attempts to kill Jason, but is stopped by a second Monitor. This second Monitor apologizes to Jason before they both disappear, leaving Jason alone with Duela's body. Later, at Duela's funeral, Jason hides until all of the Teen Titans have left except Donna Troy. Jason tells her what happened the night of Duela's death, and about the dueling Monitors. He knows that both he and Donna Troy have come back from the dead, even already deducing that his resurrection has something do with Alexander Luthor, Jr.'s plans during Infinite Crisis, and wonders which of them is next on the Monitor's hit list. The two are then attacked by the Forerunner, but before she can kill them, the apologetic Monitor stops her, and recruits Jason and Donna for a mission to the Palmerverse (a section of the Nanoverse discovered by Ray Palmer), in an attempt to find Palmer. During the trip, Jason takes it upon himself to name the Monitor "Bob". Jason seems to have a romantic interest in Donna, and is shown to be visibly disgruntled when her old boyfriend, Kyle Rayner, joins their group as they take their tour to the 52 Earths which comprise the Multiverse.

Red Robin[edit]

Jason Todd in the Red Robin costume.

A teaser image released to promote Countdown showed a figure resembling Red Robin among assembled heroes in poses symbolic of their roles in the series. After a series of contradictory statements about this figure, executive editor Dan DiDio firmly stated in the July 2007 DC Nation column that the figure is Jason Todd. The Red Robin costume, originally designed by Alex Ross for the 1996 Kingdom Come limited series and worn by the Earth-51 Dick Grayson, is seen in Countdown to Final Crisis #16 in the Earth-51 Batman's base of operations; it is revealed that Earth-51 became the peaceful world it is because the Batman of this Earth killed all the supervillains after his Jason was killed by the Joker. In issue #14, Jason dons the Red Robin suit—described by Earth-51's Batman as something he was going to give Todd's counterpart when he was older—and goes into battle alongside Earth-51 Batman. During a battle with a group of Monarch's soldiers, Earth-51 Batman is killed by the Ultraman of Earth-3, deeply affecting Jason. In his grief, Todd kills an alternate version of the Joker, also involved in Batman's killing, who then mocks his loss, vacating alongside Donna, Ray, and Kyle to the planet Apokolips before Earth-51's destruction. After the group is sent back to Earth, Todd leaves the group and returns to his crimefighting ways. When the Morticoccus virus is released from Karate Kid's body, he is forcibly brought back to the group by Kyle, much to his dismay. When the Challengers return to New Earth, Todd disposes of his Red Robin costume and abandons the rest of the group, though they go on to declare to the Monitors that they are now the monitors of the Monitors. Todd and Drake are confronted by another Red Robin in Robin #177, whose identity is initially a mystery but later turns out to be Ulysses Armstrong. Due to a combination of Red Robin's involvement and a gun-toting gang member, Todd was shot in the leg and arrested by police. Upon the resolution of the gang war in Gotham, Drake under a pseudonym visited Todd in prison to give him the Justice League access code to release himself from prison. Todd is booked under a pseudonym (John Doe), due to there being no identifiable prints on file for any member of the main bat heroes as well as Jason Todd is still legally dead.[36] Following his escape, Todd continues on the mend, and is summoned by Drake to come to the Batcave, where Batman has left a Last Will and Testament statement for him. After hearing the statement in private, Todd prepares to leave, not revealing what he was told, although he does pause before his old costume and the tattered remains of Batman's, he is clearly sad.[37]

Batman[edit]

Todd reappeared in the "Battle for the Cowl" series. Dressed in a version of a Batman costume, Todd is also living/operating out of an abandoned Gotham subway system. His inner monologue reveals that he had always wanted to eventually replace Batman, and thinks it was a bad idea for Batman to become a public figure, rather than an urban legend.

After stabbing Tim Drake (third robin) in the chest with a batarang, he and Grayson battle down in the subway.[38] Nightwing still wants to save Todd, but Todd refuses the offer, and instead allows himself to fall off a speeding subway into the Gotham River, while stating they would see each other again soon. This allowed Grayson to officially take up the mantle of Batman.[39]

It is later revealed in Battle for the Cowl that Wayne's last words to Jason were of regret at how he had obviously overlooked the young man's deep emotional problems, and how it was a mistake to ever make him Robin. His message goes on to plead that Todd get psychiatric help, a notion that the latter rejects. It is suggested by Dick Grayson that Todd was infuriated by Wayne's last words, a reaction that led him to becoming monstrous, murdering Batman in that same arc. Plus, it aggravated his hatred towards the Bat-family, as he repeatedly attempts to kill members of it.

Red Hood and Scarlet[edit]

In the second story arc of Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison and Philip Tan, Todd retakes the mantle of the Red Hood after losing his bid to become the new Batman to Grayson. With the goal of making the very concept of Batman obsolete, he puts a lot of effort into public relations: he drastically alters his Red Hood costume to look more like a traditional superhero outfit, recruits his own sidekick, Scarlet. In their war on crime, Red Hood and Scarlet freely kill criminals, villains, and anyone who gets in their way, even the police. He leaves behind a calling card which states "let the punishment fit the crime." He describes his vendetta against Grayson as "the revenge of one crazy man in a mask on another crazy man in a mask."[40][41]

Todd has reappeared with red hair, claiming that he is a natural red-head and that Bruce had him dye his hair black in order to look like Grayson, as in his pre-Crisis origins. He also claims the white streak of hair that he got is from being resurrected in the Lazarus Pit though the white streak disappears again.[42] In the issue, Todd is characterized as increasingly unstable and his idea of "finishing off" Batman and Robin now consists of stripping them down to their underwear and exposing their identities via webcam activated by a phone poll [a nod by Morrison to his own death poll]. A fight between Batman, Robin, and the Flamingo ends with Jason burying Flamingo in debris with a bulldozer. Flamingo is assumed dead, although Commissioner Gordon reports that his body can't be recovered from beneath the rubble.

Grayson offers to rehabilitate Todd who, in a moment of clarity, tells Grayson it's too late for him, and how he tried to be what Batman wanted, "but this world...this dirty, twisted, cruel and ugly dungheap had...other plans for me." He then proceeds to fall back into his hero persona, ranting how he did what Batman never did. He "...defeated his archenemy." Todd is arrested by Gordon who informs him that the reason he has always worked with Batman is that Batman never violates the law "where it counts". As Gordon leads him away, Todd tauntingly asks Grayson why he hasn't put Wayne's corpse into a Lazarus Pit to bring him back, citing his own resurrection from its bath. Scarlet flees Gotham, her mask finally falling from her face as she exits the city limits.[43]

Jason files an appeal to be moved from Arkham Asylum where he's been held for observation for the last several months. Bruce Wayne as Batman visits him there to inform Jason he's in Arkham for his own protection. Jason points out he's passed all the psychological tests repeatedly and there is no reason to keep him in what he calls Batman's "kennel of freaks". Jason is transferred to a Gotham prison and upon his arrival, the suicide rate spikes amongst top incarcerated crime figures there. Several homicides occur due to many botched attempts on Jason's life by inmates with a grudge against the Red Hood's tactics. Jason escalates things further by poisoning the cafeteria, killing 82 and sickening 100 more inmates. He is immediately transferred back to Arkham but is broken out of the paddy wagon by a group of mercenaries.[44] The mercs reveal they are under orders to bring Jason to the person that hired them and that he is in no danger. Jason breaks free and fights them off all the same as Batman and Robin arrive. Once the hired guns are subdued they reveal their employer has captured Scarlet, Jason's former sidekick. Dick, Damian, and Jason go to one of the Red Hood's weapon caches where he assembles a composite costume made from his biker and "superhero" Red Hood attire. The three intend to rescue Scarlet.[45] After Batman and Robin defeat the mercs, Red Hood rescues Scarlet and escapes using the helicopter. Batman and Robin attempt to chase him, but Red Hood tells them that he planted bombs over Gotham City months ago. Scarlet desires to stay with Red Hood as his partner. Red Hood and Scarlet head towards an unknown destination.[46]

The New 52[edit]

Following the events of the "Flashpoint" storyline, The DC universe was relaunched, with Red Hood becoming the leader of the Outlaws in their own series, part of the New 52 line of comics. The team also includes Starfire and Roy Harper. Jason, instead of being trained by various men after his return from the dead, was trained by an order of warriors known as the All Caste.[47] He was a part of the order for an unknown amount of time before he was exiled, partly of his own will.[48] After his exile he became Red Hood and came to be odds with Starfire's ex-lover, his predecessor as Robin, Dick Grayson. He soon tires of Gotham and leaves gathering the group together, after breaking out Roy from a Middle Eastern prison, he catches Roy up to speed on things. The two start on very friendly terms. He and Starfire are in a sexual relationship, however Starfire makes it clear to Roy that it's just sexual with no emotional ties. Essence, a fellow exiled member of the All Caste that Jason knows, appears to him but is invisible to others. She sets him on a mission to hunt down a group known as "The Untitled", telling him of people missing organs before death without any sign of removal, their calling card. To top it off Essence shows that the order of the All Caste, the people most qualified to handle the situation, have been slaughtered, leaving her and Jason as the only living members that are known of.[49] Jason after finding out he's no longer the killer he once was, takes himself and his group go to the All Caste headquarters where they discover the bodies are returning to life as zombies. Jason is forced to destroy the bodies of his teachers and friends, afterwards he pays his respects, swearing revenge for them.[48] He is led on a goose chase across the globe as he comes across an Untitled, who was in hiding, tells him that they were set up but still fights him. Jason kills the creature strengthening his resolve.[50]

Jason Todd's new origin is revealed in a special zero issue, which changes the manner in which Batman first met Todd (stealing medicine from Leslie Thompkins, after she had treated him from a brutal beating). The back-up introduces a massive retcon in which the Joker is responsible for orchestrating the major moments of Todd's life such as his father's imprisonment and death, his mother's overdose, his introduction to Leslie Thompkins and his adoption of the Robin identity. Considering the Joker is the one narrating this segment, it is open to debate whether he is telling the truth or not. Though only lightly touched on, his resurrection is also simplified: he is resurrected after he is placed into the Lazarus Pit by Talia al Ghul.[51]

Jason Todd has also been revealed to be a member of Batman, Incorporated, initially operating under the name of Wingman, an agent based in Europe. Wingman temporary allies himself with Damian Wayne, whi is using the name Redbird at the time. Batman, Inc is at war with an organisation named Leviathan headed by Talia al Ghul, Damian's mother and the woman responsible for reviving Jason, but in the present she seeks to destroy Batman and has put a bounty on their son's head. Alfred refers to Jason as wanting "to be redeemed" through his membership.[52] Later, however, the Wingman ruse is exposed and Todd returns to being Red Hood. While he recalls his days as Wingman as a failure, Bruce is nevertheless proud of him. Following the events of Death of the Family, Bruce and Alfred care for a sick Jason Todd in the Manor, culminating in warm embrace between Jason and his father figure as he regains consciousness, suggesting that their animosity might finally be put to rest.[53] After Jason recovers, and in the wake of Damian's death, Batman partners with Jason for the first time since Jason's days as Robin. Batman brings Jason on a mission in Ethiopia to punish some of Damian's other would-be assassins, and while there he also takes him to the place of his death in the hopes Jason can provide insights into his resurrection so that he might apply the method to Damian. Jason is hurt by Batman's manipulation, and the two share harsh words and exchange blows, shattering their newfound relationship.[54]

Following the traumas of Death of the Family, Damian's death and his betrayal by Batman, Jason returns to the All-Castle and has his memories wiped so that he may be at peace. He is 'rescued' by Starfire and Arsenal, but does not regain his memories.[55] He subsequently learns of his history from Starfire's computer, which states Red Hood has made 83 confirmed kills. Jason refuses to believe from Starfire and Arsenal that he had been on a path towards redemption, and abandons his teammates.[56]

Skills and abilities[edit]

To become Robin, Todd was trained as Dick Grayson was. Batman instructed him in acrobatics, detective work, marksmanship and martial arts. After his return, Todd expands on his training by learning from people of the same caliber as those who trained his ex-mentor, Batman.

Through Talia al Ghul, who secretly purchased enough shares to own Kord Industries[30][57] as LexCorp's former CEO, Jason has access to high-level civilian and military-grade weaponry including firearms such as pistols, machine guns, shotguns, etc. He also has access to explosives, rocket launchers, and advanced computer equipment and gadgetry. However, his dagger (which resembles a kris and is a replica of one of Ra's al Ghul's knives) still remains as his preferred weapon of choice for hand-to-hand combat. He also has some lethally sharpened blades based on Batman's batarang designs as throwing weapons, unlike Batman's Batarangs, they cannot explode, or do any fancy tricks. Although Jason does not possess the wealth of Bruce Wayne, his arsenal is nearly on a par with Batman's technology. Jason, however, is not afraid to kill, making him a ruthless antihero.

Having been trained by Batman in investigation, Jason Todd is a skilled detective. During the Under the Hood arc, he was able to locate the Joker while the Clown Prince of Crime was in hiding after suffering a brutal beating from Hush. Todd deduced his own resurrection was related to Alexander Luthor, Jr.'s plots before his death in the beginning of the Countdown storyline.

Other versions[edit]

The Dark Knight Returns[edit]

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which was published before "A Death in the Family", references Jason Todd. In DKR, Jason Todd is implied to have died in the line of duty, although the exact details are not given. The Joker is not stated to have been responsible. It is implied that Todd's death was a contributing factor to Batman's retirement. When Batman allows Carrie Kelley to assume the mantle of Robin, Alfred Pennyworth objects, citing Todd as a reason. Batman responds by stating "Jason was a good soldier. He honored me. But the war goes on."

Earth-Two concept[edit]

In an interview for the Infinite Crisis hardcover, Jeanine Schaefer states that Geoff Johns had planned to reveal the second Red Hood as the Jason Todd of the Earth-Two universe. Said Schaefer:

Well, Geoff's idea was to have Red Hood be the Jason Todd of Earth-Two. So he'd be this kid, who wanted to be Batman's sidekick. He sneaks into the Batcave, and the first thing he sees as he boots up the bat-computers is... Batman murdered. And so he uses Bruce's stuff, training himself to take over for him. I think there was even talk of his possibly being Deathstroke's Robin.[58]

Flashpoint[edit]

An alternate version of Jason appears in the Flashpoint timeline, where, among other changes, Bruce Wayne was killed as a child and thus never became Batman. Here Jason is portrayed as a former drug-addict and follower of Brother Blood who eventually turned his life around and became a priest. He still died, but instead recovered from it physically and mentally, and now lives with a positive and religious outlook on life.[59]

In other media[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • Jason Todd as Red Hood is set to appear in Batman: Arkham Knight as a playable character via preorder DLC.

Television[edit]

  • The Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Emperor Joker!" features a scene where Batman is shown as a statue depicting Jason Todd's death in Batman #428 as a part of Bat-Mite's extradimensional museum. Bat-Mite then breaks the fourth wall by informing Batman of the vote that resulted in Jason's demise.[60] Batman gives no reaction as Dick Grayson is the only Robin Batman ever worked with in his universe.
  • A memorial of Robin (Jason Todd) can be seen in Young Justice: Invasion. At some point during the five years between Young Justice (the first season) and Young Justice: Invasion (the second season), he took over the Robin mantle after Dick Grayson but is eventually deceased due to unknown reasons. His memorial stands alongside other fallen superheroes (Ted Kord, Tula and Artemis) in Mount Justice.[61]
  • Jason Todd's ashes can be seen in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Sidekick" in an urn marked "Robin II". The urn is also positioned next to a crowbar on Batman's trophy shelf, an in-joke about the character's demise.[62]

Film[edit]

  • Jason Todd appears as the main antagonist of the DC Animated Original Movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, voiced by Jensen Ackles (the adult Red Hood persona),[63] as well as Vincent Martella (teenage Robin version) and Alexander Martella (younger Robin version).[64] His first Robin costume is a replica of his original one, while his second one is the later version of Tim Drake's costume with only small details being different like the length/style of the cape and dark green colouring instead of black. After he is killed by the Joker, Jason is brought back to life by Ra's al Ghul via a Lazarus Pit then becomes the "Red Hood" to get his revenge on Joker.
  • Jason Todd is mentioned in the two-part animated film Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. In the beginning, Commissioner James Gordon mentions Jason's death after stating that Bruce Wayne should have followed up with Dick Grayson following the tragic accident. Later, Alfred Pennyworth points out his concern for Batman bringing up another Robin (Carrie Kelley) following Jason's death. Batman responds that he would never forget Jason, and that he was a "good soldier" who "honored" him.

Radio[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]