Off My Mind: Jason Todd 's Relationship With the Bat-Family

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Posted by G-Man (36557 posts) - - Show Bio

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.

Of course he didn't listen...

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.

Jason's most cherished memory?
Someone's missing. Not just the dog.

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.

#1 Posted by Batnandez (511 posts) - - Show Bio

First and I never want to see Jason back with the bat family.

#2 Posted by moywar700 (2775 posts) - - Show Bio

@Batnandez said:

First and I never want to see Jason back with the bat family.

this

#3 Posted by AngeTheDude (157 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article. I wasn't really familiar with Jason Todd's history with Batman. I can see Jason Todd getting more involved with future stories as I think Batman still cares about him and is also open to any crimefighting assistance he can get.

#4 Posted by viin (608 posts) - - Show Bio

Jason doesnt need to be in the bat-family. He will always have connections with them but its good to have an outcast out of the group of kids Bruce has brought in. I use to dislike Jason but once I saw the new design for the new 52 by kenneth rockafort my opinion on him shifted the other direction.

#5 Posted by Phaedrusgr (1672 posts) - - Show Bio

I kind of dislike the last picture. It shows Bruce as a paterfamilias persona in a very bad way. Anyway, very good article!

#6 Posted by wessaari (629 posts) - - Show Bio

i agree G-Man. this is a step closer, but on another note, we havent seen them interact in the new 52. yes there is a flashback to the Under the Hood story, but thats not the same. A good question is, is Bruce glad that Jason has come to help twice, and a possible third time once the Death of the Family arc comes around? Bruce has mentioned Jason in Batman and Robin, and in a good way. So there are steps being made, but many more steps that need to happen before Jason is even remotely welcomed back. We know that Dick is hesitant about him, Damian doesnt like him, Babs doesnt like him, and Tim is giving him a chance. Jason doesnt like Grayson, doesnt like Damian, doesnt give two craps about Babs, and respects Tim. It seems to me that Tim could be the one who at least gets Jason's foot in the door to being brought back, btu for now he shouldnt be back and I for one am glad with who he is with and what he is doing.

#7 Posted by saoakden (1066 posts) - - Show Bio

I have mixed feelings about this. I can't decide if Jason should be back in the family or not. Whenever I think of Jason Todd, I think of him as an Anti-Hero for his actions in Under the Red Hood and Battle for the Cowl. He was fighting crime but also killing it. I think he does this to get Bruce's attention. I think deep down he wants to be on Batman's side again. Why does Jason wear the Bat symbol on his costume now, to tick off Bruce or to show Bruce he wants to be a part of the Bat family again?

#8 Posted by landau_corinthian (11 posts) - - Show Bio

Jason Todd should be dead.

#9 Posted by livlig (54 posts) - - Show Bio

@Phaedrusgr: Bruce seems to agree, as he suggested he'd stand in the very next panel.

#10 Posted by Phaedrusgr (1672 posts) - - Show Bio

@livlig: Really? I haven't read that one! Thanks for the info!

#11 Posted by fennec (1 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article. Jason Todd is my favorite character in the Batman universe. Personally, I think it's cool that he still has some involvement with the Batman family... but in saying that, I don't think he should actually be an official member. I like the fact that he doesn't get along with some of the members but that he still comes to their aid when necessary.

#12 Posted by Pauldro (127 posts) - - Show Bio

Thanks for not only writing this but also mentioning me. I don't know about anyone else, but I want there to be a relationship built between Jason and Barbara. Whether it be a platonic or a romantic. I think Jason could bring out a darker person in Barbara, or also Barbara can begin or help Jason redeem himself. They both went threw similar traumatic events. I'm just saying it would be interesting.

#13 Posted by NlGHTCRAWLER (2899 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm not liking what the relaunch is doing to Jason. The only reason people love Jason is because he IS the black sheep. Under The Hood was one of my favorite arcs and even though he has had some pretty crappy writers in the past, I still feel like that anti-hero magic can still be rekindled. I don't want "good" Jason Todd. I want bad, hurt, lost and lone wolf Jason Todd. If not then I would rather have him dead. Theres no need for another, older Damian. One is enough.

#14 Posted by FatesGambler (40 posts) - - Show Bio

If Jason goes back to the Bat family it would completely ruin his character

#15 Edited by Draste (7 posts) - - Show Bio

I feel like the new direction, which is a blatant attempt to make Jason the "anti-hero" of the Bat family, is actually good for him. It's not a redemption story. He's apologetically a killer. He's just come to peace with it, and knows that he's never going to be the #1 Son (i.e.: Dick). I feel each Wayne (ward or not) is a manifestation of the total package that Bruce is. Dick is the one that shows the hand-to-hand skill. Tim is the obvious detective. Damian is going to grow to become the one that inspires fear into the hearts of evil. And Jason is that part of Bruce that has always been kept in check. Wasn't it in the Hood arc that Bruce said, "I don't kill not because I don't want to, but because I know if I start I'll never stop." Well, that's what Jason really amounts to. He's the one that let loose. He's followed in Bruce's footprints as far as training, but he left the inhibitions at the door. And as much as the rest of the Bat family disdains killing, I truly believe they need a member that's willing to cross that line. So yes, he deserves to wear that red bat on his chest. But he will always be kept at arms-length at best. My hope is that at him and Bruce at least reconcile somewhat, even if it's an agree-to-disagree standing.

Edit: I wish they would've kept his hair red, though <.< Would've been awesome to have a team of gingers (Roy, Jason, and Kori) running around the DCnU

#16 Posted by zackattack529 (1404 posts) - - Show Bio

call me a non-conformist or a hipster i dont care..i just dont really like red hood/jasons character..it doesnt appeal to me, i liked the story and the movie even more. but the character as an ongoing, i think it wouldve been better if he died. to give his character a better mark of importance especially for his introduction as red hood. BUT because everyone else likes the cool rebel, anti hero type character he will continue to live. and i just dont like his series either, i mean lets face it the only way that title is working is because it is focused primarily with star fire. i really hope she leaves this title and joins with teen titans again that way she can fit in and have better stories. red hood can have AWESOME stories with just roy harper, then they could introduce a new character a female thats more down to EARTH and more of an outlaw than starfire, i mean i just read the past couple of issues and i thought it was starwars..its pathetic.

the only good thing i can say about the recent series is it has GREAT art...the end.

#17 Edited by TheHT (72 posts) - - Show Bio

Every picture I see of that awesome Red Hood suit I have to download.

#18 Posted by hairiel (11 posts) - - Show Bio

Truthfully i prefer red hood to stick with starfire and arsenal and travel with them, helping out the bat family once in every 20+ story arcs or so like the case of the talons attacking Mr Freeze. But right now i really am loving his relationship with the current and past robins. He hates all of them but Tim.

#19 Posted by Eyz (3095 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd say, as confusing as ever!

#20 Posted by longbowhunter (7283 posts) - - Show Bio

For me Jason only works as a villain. I don't at all care for the antihero thing.

#21 Posted by TheCat (20 posts) - - Show Bio

I love Jason Todd in general, but he is meant to be the anti-hero that he has been. He's like Batman's darker shadow. He crosses the lines that the Bat will never touch. I feel like in a way, he is and will always be a part of the Bat Family. Not ever in the way Drake, Grayson, and Damien are, but he is definitely a part of it.

He's a unique character. On the scale of good and bad he is really close to the middle, but leaning slightly towards good. It should be kept that way.

#22 Posted by Pbott (210 posts) - - Show Bio

for me he is a hero because he does the right thing and kills the villains.

#23 Posted by Narok24 (43 posts) - - Show Bio

@Pbott: But is it really the right thing . . .

#24 Posted by IronAngelX (198 posts) - - Show Bio

With the "Death of the Family" story arc that will be crossing over in the New 52...I think this would be a perfect opportunity for Jason to talk to Bruce since the two haven't even seen each other in this new universe at all yet. There is good story there too as you could take their encounter either way which would be 1. Bruce and Jason come to civil terms and forgive each other...or 2. Their relationship worsens and Jason goes a little extreme again. Both could be fun.

#25 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (33886 posts) - - Show Bio

What about Cass, why isnt she in the picture?

Online
#26 Posted by tylerlugowski (118 posts) - - Show Bio

Jason will always be part of the Bat-family. Even if he doesn't work with them, get together with them, or talk to them as much. Even though he did things that make us have an anger towards him, he will always be a part of the bat family, whether we like it or not.

#27 Posted by herrweis (435 posts) - - Show Bio

so are we to assume that his pre-dcnu origin is intact?if so that is just stupid.ugh.can we kill him and damien please?

#28 Posted by Darkus_99 (68 posts) - - Show Bio

Jason is a villian!! Killing isn't the "Bat" style

#29 Posted by G-Man (36557 posts) - - Show Bio

@Jonny_Anonymous: Sigh. That's a whole other article in itself.

#30 Posted by thespideyguy (2642 posts) - - Show Bio

He didn't have him at the portrait because Jason is dead.

#31 Posted by schwewewe (2 posts) - - Show Bio

He's the black sheep of the bat family.

#32 Posted by fodigg (6146 posts) - - Show Bio

Since he returned, Jason has varied wildly in his portrayal. You never knew what you were going to get with Red Hood--hero? Anti-hero? Villain? If nothing else, at least the revamped Jason is consistent, even if I'm a little sad to see him lose his edge. He's not even really an anti-hero anymore. He's a hero who uses guns--but Batman doesn't seem to mind as long as he's not going for kill shots in front of him, which is weird--and he does occasionally kill, but then so do heroes like Wolverine.

It seems like Jason and Bruce have reached some sort of "cease fire" against each other. And that they're willing to work together as well. My fanon explanation for this is that, as Jason has repeatedly traded away his fondest memories to S'aru the Proctor, the sting of Batman's "betrayal" for refusing to kill Joker has lessened, because his connection to Batman has lessened. Batman is no longer a father figure who left him unavenged, he's just a guy Jason worked with who has different methods. That's kind of sad, but it explains his mellowing out. Jason moved on because, after losing memories of the good times, he just doesn't care about Bruce enough anymore to hold onto the hate. Again, that's just my personal fanon though. We only see him abandon a happy memory to S'aru once.

#33 Posted by Blackwing15 (5 posts) - - Show Bio

I think Jason is/was acting the way he did is because he's not only stubborn, but I think he's tired of holding back. Going full throttle I guess.

#34 Posted by spiderturtle (66 posts) - - Show Bio

Well he still has his Bat symbol on his chest-ish. Plus that panel in B&R was pretty cool.

#35 Posted by Delphic (1502 posts) - - Show Bio

Interesting article.

#36 Posted by ronin147 (1 posts) - - Show Bio

I like how Jason has started but if he stays the hurt and lost character then hes not really a character worth reading about. He needs to grow because that's what makes a story interesting, heck that's the whole reason robin's take on a new persona. Do I always see him as the black sheep yes I wouldn't expect him to show up for thanksgiving dinner. However if Gotham is under mass attack sure why not.

#37 Posted by DEGRAAF (7895 posts) - - Show Bio

@moywar700 said:

@Batnandez said:

I never want to see Jason back with the bat family.

this

dido

@wessaari said:

i agree G-Man. this is a step closer, but on another note, we havent seen them interact in the new 52. yes there is a flashback to the Under the Hood story, but thats not the same. A good question is, is Bruce glad that Jason has come to help twice, and a possible third time once the Death of the Family arc comes around? Bruce has mentioned Jason in Batman and Robin, and in a good way. So there are steps being made, but many more steps that need to happen before Jason is even remotely welcomed back. We know that Dick is hesitant about him, Damian doesnt like him, Babs doesnt like him, and Tim is giving him a chance. Jason doesnt like Grayson, doesnt like Damian, doesnt give two craps about Babs, and respects Tim. It seems to me that Tim could be the one who at least gets Jason's foot in the door to being brought back, btu for now he shouldnt be back and I for one am glad with who he is with and what he is doing.

Jason has had a handful of interactions with the Bat family. He is there for Court of Owls, he is there for the Terminus thing, he answers the call put out by Damien to all the Robins...

#38 Posted by syoungkeezy (81 posts) - - Show Bio

@Narok24: yes it is if villains are left uncheck they will keep killing,not killing a villain bcoz ur afraid of what ul become is not a good excuse, if u kill the villain then he doesnt kill again and u will be saving lives rather than sayin i didnt kill the villain a lot of lives were lost but i was able to remain pure IMO jason is punisher of dc a batman who people can actually relate to

#39 Posted by HardTI (5 posts) - - Show Bio

The article fails to mention that Jason did not want that memory of him and Bruce anymore and chose to have it "removed", or leave it behind. I think he's just getting over the past drama and starting fresh. Anything goes now.

#40 Posted by Baddamdog (2223 posts) - - Show Bio

I love Jason. The end.

#41 Posted by Nathaniel_Christopher (1675 posts) - - Show Bio

Jason will always be a member of the family, because the Bat Family is like a real family that way. You can't choose your family. No matter what they do they're still your family. No matter how far the son falls the father will always love him, but that doesn't mean he'll invite said son to Sunday dinner. And that's why I feel Jason wasn't invited to the portrait sitting. He's not only gone over the deep end, he's done it happily with a smiling face, numerous times. He's got to earn his way back to that relationship with Bruce if he ever wants to be in the family photos again. At the moment he's mellowed out a bit, which is good I think. Him being angry and vengeful was fine, but its not something that can last forever. Boys hold on to stuff like that, men get over it and move on. If Jason continued to be that character he would've stagnated and eventually lost his entire fanbase.

I personally don't think Jason will ever be a main part of the Bat Family, like Robin is, or the first guy that gets called, like Nightwing is. I think he'll always be something of a black sheep, but that after a sit down with Bruce and a long talk with Dick that things will be a lot better than they are now.

#42 Posted by Gotham331 (187 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the Jason Todd character. seeing him at odds with the rest of the "family" really works for me. I understand the mixed emotions that he has, but the stories are so much better with him on the outs

#43 Posted by KRYPTON (1891 posts) - - Show Bio

This is probably one of the best "Off My Mind" yet. Really got me thinking about Jason Todd and his entire stance with the Bat-Family. Plus, Jason uses guns why would he use guns and Batman be okay with that?

#44 Edited by KRYPTON (1891 posts) - - Show Bio

@Jonny_Anonymous said:

What about Cass, why isnt she in the picture?

Because she isn't really an orphan like the others.

#45 Posted by JamDamage (1118 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the Redhood title. I like Jason as an anti-hero and I have a feeling he'll back sooner or later and blame his nuttiness on the Laz pit. I wouldn't care if he came back now that he has his own title and I've been reading him. If he didn't have a title I say he should remain a bad guy, but DC has made me sympothize with him so I'd like him back. I can see the story. Batman saves Jason for some reason and later on, Jason has the chance to kill a guy while Batman watches, but holds back and doesn't.

#46 Posted by HardTI (5 posts) - - Show Bio

@Darkus_99: Damien kills and Bruce apparently doesn't have much of a problem with that.

#47 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (33886 posts) - - Show Bio
@KRYPTON

@Jonny_Anonymous said:

What about Cass, why isnt she in the picture?

Because she isn't really an orphan like the others.

She was still adopted by Bruce though
Online
#48 Posted by WaveMotionCannon (5530 posts) - - Show Bio
@hairiel

Truthfully i prefer red hood to stick with starfire and arsenal and travel with them, helping out the bat family once in every 20+ story arcs or so like the case of the talons attacking Mr Freeze. But right now i really am loving his relationship with the current and past robins. He hates all of them but Tim.

This. Keep him estranged from Bruce but having relationship with Tim.
#49 Posted by The Stegman (25002 posts) - - Show Bio

He should stay the black sheep and not join up with the Bat Clan, he works better as an outlaw.

#50 Posted by sethysquare (3843 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't think Jason should join the Bat family. But I would like him to help bruce out every once in a while. Would love to see a Batman and Red Hood crossover down the line.

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