Jason Todd (Red headed stepchild or just #2?)

By  Phil Perich for Before the Bat: The Gotham Podcast


Hello hello.  I thought that this week we would continue our Robin series.  This week focus is on Jason Todd, the second Robin.  Jason first appeared in Batman #357 (March 1983).  At this point, he had an identical origin to Dick Grayson.  Jason was the son of circus acrobats that were killed by a criminal seeking protection money.  The red haired boy was taken in and trained by Batman, then decided to dye his hair black so the public would assume he was the first Robin.  Jason did not appear as Robin until Dick Grayson gave him the suit and identity in Batman #368 (February 1984).

The new Robin was well received.  Until 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.  The universe altering event merged multiple alternate realities and changed character origins.  Some characters got small changes.  Jason’s origin was radically altered.  Jason was now an orphan living on the streets, stealing to survive.  When Batman first meets him, he is attempting to steal the tires off the Batmobile

(Batman #408, June 1987).  

After attempting to enroll Jason at a boarding school, which later turns out to be a haven for teen thieves, Batman takes Jason as his ward (like he did with Dick Grayson).  This version of Jason Todd seemed to rub readers the wrong way.  The angry teen just seemed to get angrier.  He learned his father had been a criminal killed by his boss, Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face.  Later, after attempting to protect an abused woman from her boyfriend, the woman kills herself.  An angry Jason confronts the boyfriend, who falls (or is pushed) from a balcony.  When questioned by Batman, Jason’s only reply is:

Around this time then Batman editor Denny O’Neil had the idea that readers might like more input in the creative process.  He had the idea of voting via a phone call. But DC Comics and O’Neil wanted to save the gimmick for a BIG event.  When the decision was made that Jason Todd might die, O’Neil decided this was the event.  Voting was close, but in the end Jason Todd was murdered by the Joker.  And that was the end of Jason Todd…until the year 2005.  A mysterious figure appeared in Gotham as the new Red Hood.  The original Red Hood was an unknown criminal, who after falling into a vat of chemicals, become known to the world as the Joker.  This new Red Hood was a vigilante who planned to protect Gotham by decapitating criminals and attempting to control the drug cartels.  After several encounters, Batman finally learns the identity of the new Red Hood is…

Jason Todd!  It was later revealed that Jason was brought back to life still in his coffin by cosmic means (Alternate Superboys, it’s a long story…).  In later retellings of his resurrection, it was Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul, who steals Jason’s body and immerses him in a Lazarus pit to bring him back to life.  After  failed attempts to kill the Joker and replace Dick Grayson as Nightwing, Jason gets swept up in the reemergence of the multiverse.  It’s in an alternate universe that Jason receives the costume of Red Robin

(An identity he quickly discards once he is back home.  Tim Drake the third Robin takes this identity and wears it to this day.  He’ll be the next chapter in our Robin series).  Jason reassumes the identity of the Red Hood and continues to cause trouble for Batman and his allies until 2011.  DC comics rebooted all their comic titles in 2011.  Jason Todd, as the Red Hood, starred in the new title, Red Hood and the outlaws, alongside Arsenal (Roy Harper, Green Arrow’s first partner) and Starfire.  

This version of Jason Todd was a somewhat lighter anti-hero.  While at first pronouncing his dislike all things Batman, Jason began to work occasionally with his former teammates, especially now with everyone except Batman thinking Dick Grayson is dead.  Jason has stepped up, especially in the title Batman Eternal, as the “next oldest son”.  That’s it for this week.  Send me any Bat thoughts through the following:







Until next week, be good. Remember the cautionary tale of little Red Hood.