Jason Todd is an angry ex-sidekick. He has one of the jobs most young heroes would love to have. He was a Robin for Batman. Regardless of the jokes from some readers about being Robin, there is an honor in being worthy enough to fight at Batman's side. Being Robin is a role only the most worthy, skilled and trusted could have.
Jason's tenure as Robin was cut short when Joker decided to use him as a tool to get under Batman's skin. By manipulating events, Joker was able to get Jason where he wanted and brutally killed him while Batman was not able to save him. This had a lasting effect on Batman and even made him decide not to have a sidekick again (until Tim Drake managed to convince him to change his mind).
When Jason returned from the dead and regained his bearings, he had some serious issues to deal with. He's gone back and forth with being loyal to the Bat Family or being against them. Little by little, we've been seeing more on how he views Batman today in the New 52. The question remains whether or not there is a place for him among the others and, if so, would he want it?== TEASER ==
Many are quick to judge Jason as an anti-hero since his return in 'Under the Hood.' That isn't the case. Jason had a troubled youth but Batman saw something in him. As Robin, he became a hero alongside Batman. He wasn't the perfect hero. He had his moments where he didn't quite follow Batman's plans or protocols but he was a hero. He just had a little bit of an attitude to go with it.
Because he didn't have a proper upbringing or spend as much time with Bruce as Dick did, Jason didn't have a chance to let go of his demons. When Joker set his plan in motion, Jason immediately took the bait when it meant being reunited with his real mom. He was quick to run off despite Batman's warnings. This allowed him to fall into Joker's trap which resulted in getting beat with a crowbar and blown up.
Jason was able to return after Superboy-Prime altered reality a bit (let's not get into that). He suffered from amnesia but was discovered by Talia al Ghul. Talia later immersed Jason in a Lazarus Pit to help restore his memories, which is known for sometimes affecting the person's mental facilities. Remembering his previous life along with knowing that Batman pretty much allowed Joker to get away with killing him, Jason was ticked off. In his eyes, the man who had taken him in, protected him and made him into a better person, failed him.
Batman is supposed to always have a contingency plan for every situation. Yet Jason was able to run off and face Joker on his own. With the memory of being beaten and Joker still coming and going to Arkham Asylum, Jason was upset. He told Batman he could forgive him for not saving him. The problem was he felt that Batman let Joker get away with killing him.
This was the destruction of Jason's beliefs. For the time he spent with Bruce, he took on Batman's ideals and ways. Now he knew that Batman's ways don't always work. He was a child and his 'parent' let him die and didn't feel the need to unleash his fury upon Joker. Jason could no longer be Robin. He couldn't embrace the fact that he had a second chance at life and rush to Batman's side. Those ways didn't work. The good guys lost that day and the villain was left unpunished.
His return in 'Under the Hood' showed his anger. But there were still elements of Jason being a hero. He still wanted to rid the world of evil but didn't think Batman's methods were enough. He felt more extreme measures were necessary. Later, Jason even took on Nightwing's identity in New York City to continue to fight crime. Jason had issues with Batman and his failure to prevent Joker killing him but he was still a hero…until Batman's death in 'RIP.'
In the 'Battle for the Cowl' story, Jason felt he deserved to be Batman's successor. He still believed in Batman and despite his hurt feelings, he knew the importance for there to still be a Batman. The problem was, he wasn't going to do it the way Bruce did. He took on a more aggressive and extreme approach to dealing with the criminals. The other Robins end up fighting him with Jason not holding back. Throwing a sharp Batarang into Tim Drake's chest showed just how far over the edge he had gone. After this confrontation and defeat by Nightwing, could there be any way he'd be allowed to return to the Bat-Family?
Then again, Damian seriously injured Tim as well in one of their first encounters and also chopped off the head of a local thug. Clearly Batman was able to overlook these incidents and others.
With the New 52, we're seeing Jason still harbors some bad feelings towards Batman but still cherishes the times they had together.
When he went to Gotham with Roy and Starfire to deal with Suzie Su, he stuck around long enough to answer Alfred's call when the Court of Owls sent the Talons out to assassinate several citizens. He could have easily left town but deep down he felt the responsibility to help out.
Bruce recently had a 'family portrait' commissioned but didn't bother to ask Jason to be part of it. Was it because he didn't want him in the portrait or because he figured Jason would refuse? Jason did comment on the fact he wasn't asked and still stuck around to help out against Terminus and his allies.
Where does Jason belong? It's understandable why he would be upset. He does feel let down. Jason isn't aware of how Bruce mourned after Joker killed him or that he was determined not to take on another sidekick/partner. Yet he did a couple times since.
Again we come to the question, is there a place for Jason with the others? We're seeing him get along with them but can he get over what happened or will he always have a grudge? Should he accept what happened and try to be understanding?
It feels like we're seeing Jason lean towards letting go of his anger. The fact that he still holds onto the memory of being with Bruce says something. But as Bruce put it in his message to Jason (in 'Battle for the Cowl'), Jason was always self-destructive and 'broken.' Jason has other issues besides Bruce letting Joker "get away" with killing him. With the drastic actions he's taken against the family, it seems as if he's turned his back on them.
Yet his current activities tell us he is willing to forgive everything. Bruce and Jason need to have a sit down and talk everything over. It won't happen anytime soon since Jason is stubborn and Bruce doesn't always wear his heart on his sleeve. What we're seeing is a step closer but there is still plenty that needs to be worked out. It's a little surprising how calm he's being around them as well as their immediate acceptance of his presence after what he's done to them.
What it comes down to is they are family. They may not always get along and may want to kill each other at times but they do understand what matters deep down.
Thanks to Pauldro for asking my thoughts on this topic.
Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter@GManFromHeck. He'd be upset too if Batman let Joker get away with beating him with a crowbar and blowing him up.