The internet is all abuzz speculating that Red Hood might be losing either his face or his life in the conclusion of Death of the Family. All of the speculation originates from DC's WTF Certified gatefold cover for April's issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws where the Hood is seen missing his face. Weird.
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At the end of all this, I'll speculate on the likelihood and effect of Jason losing his face, but for the moment, let's just presume that Jason is indeed about to lose his gorgeous Bruce clone good looks. If Jason loses his face, is he doomed to be a freak forever, or can modern medical technology save him?
Science Marches On!
Everybody complains about the rising cost of health care these days, but few people take the time to consider just how far the medical profession has come in the last century. It used to be that if you got sick, you pretty much just died, but now, we not only are able to sustain life for much longer, we can nearly maintain a high quality of life indefinitely. Nearly. It really is astounding when you look at the big picture.
One of the places where medical science has advanced by leaps and bounds just in the last decade is facial reconstruction.
As of a decade ago, there was...kind of a way of reconstructing a face. Using Jason as an example, skin could be taken from his buttock or back and sewn across his face. The skin would grow into place eventually, and Jason would have a fleshy covering for his head, but butt skin is not face skin, and this procedure only succeeded in creating a “flesh quilt” kind of mask. In other words, you had skin on your face, but it did not look very pretty, and you could not use it to convey any expressions.
Now, medical science has advanced to the point that people can slap on and off a face without batting an eye. Okay, well that is an exaggeration, but take the case of Tommy Kirkland who recently was diagnosed with brain cancer. The surgeons peeled back his face, removed part of his skull, took out the cancer, shoved everything back into place, stitch, stitch, stitch, and he was good as new.
A complete facial recovery should be possible for Jason if his original face were left intact. There have been several modern examples of people getting their faces ripped off (How? You don't want to know) and later getting their faces reattached without any major problems. If Joker has Jason's face under a tray, and the Bat Clan is able to quickly defeat the Clown Prince, there is no reason Jason should not be able to regain his dashing good looks and fully functioning face.
However, you really can't trust Joker to be thoughtful enough to keep Jason's face intact for him, so what are Jason's options if Joker destroys Jason's face? Surprisingly, his options are still pretty good.
The medical profession has now managed to do a complete facial reconstruction surgery taking facial tissue off of brain dead donors. Doctors have managed to attach foreign noses and tear ducts to a needing body, and both the sense of smell and the ability to cry have been fully integrated. The full face transplant is still a very new procedure, but in the study I researched, the face transplant recipient retained over fifty percent of his regular facial movement.
Keeping in mind that Jason Todd lives in the DCU where extreme things happen every day which dwarf real life science and that Jason's ex-mentor has money coming out the wazoo, it seems like a safe bet that Jason could be completely restored even if he does lose his face.
As for the likelihood of Jason losing his face, I don't buy it. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like Snyder has kept all the major plays of the story close to Batman the title and Batman the character, and I don't see Jason getting his face snipped as playing in to the overall narrative of Death of the Family. Jason has barely even been in the main story arch.
Personally, I wonder if this might simply be an issue featuring Two-Face. The cover would clearly work with Harvey's motif, and Jason and Harvey have a history. Pre-Flashpoint, Two-Face was responsible for the death of Jason's father. I have no clue if that is still cannon, but if it is, it would explain both the split mask and the death imagery.
I had some more thoughts on the matter, but my sick sleepiness is starting to catch up with me again, so I think I'm going to end it here so I can crash. (I've been fighting a nasty bug for the last couple of days) The good news is that if Jason loses his face, the handsome devil can be back to normal with minimal long term consequences.
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