September 18, 2022 16 min read
Jason Todd is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Gerry Conwayand Don Newton and first appeared in Batman #357(1983) and was the second character to take up the identity of Robin.
Though initially popular, the character as written by Jim Starlin was not well received by fans following a revamping of his origin by Max Allan Collins. 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. He was killed off by a margin of 72 votes (5,343 for, 5,271 against). Subsequent Batman stories dealt with Batman's guilt over not having been able to prevent Jason's death. In 2005's "Under the Hood" story arc, the character was resurrected and became the second character to take up the Red Hood alias, assuming a new role as a vigilante antihero with a willingness to use lethal force and weapons.
By the time Len Wein took over as editor of DC Comics' Batman titles in 1982, 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. Jason Todd was created as Dick Grayson's replacement as Robin but was almost a complete clone of the first Robin until Crisis on Infinite Earths.The character debuted in Batman #357 (March 1983) and made his second cameo appearance in Detective Comics #526 (May 1983), but it wasn't until later that year when he would appear in costume as Robin in Batman #366 (Dec 1983) when he showed up towards the end of the story to help Batman fight the Joker.
Following the 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC took the opportunity to reboot many of its properties. The 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."
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. 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 second 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." 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.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, Jason 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 72-vote margin of 5,343 votes to 5,271. The following issue, Batman #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. 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!"
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." 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." 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." O'Neil would later regret his comment.
There was a degree of discontinuity between the Batman and Detective Comics titles with regards to the portrayal of Jason. 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 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 Batman trained Tim in the months building up to his official appearance as Robin.
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. 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!"
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 Jason 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 the character 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." 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.
In the Batman R.I.P. follow-up storyline Batman: Battle for the Cowl, Jason 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:
|“||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 Dick Grayson taking 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.
On June 6, 2011, 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 acts as leader of the Outlaws, a group of antiheroes that "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. The group includes Roy Harper and Starfire. Red Hood and the Outlaws debuted in September 2011, written by Scott Lobdell and with art by Kenneth Rocafort. 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.
Jason Todd is the son of Catherine Elizabeth and Willis Todd, and was conceived unexpectedly in an alleyway. Jason had a troubled childhood due his parents constantly arguing, his mother suffering from depression and drug addiction, and his father "showing him the ropes of thievery and conning", leading him to getting into trouble.
Unbeknownst to Jason, he earned the attention of the Clown Prince of Gotham, who wanted to create and destroy a Robin to get at Batman. Because of the Joker's actions, Jason's father wound up in prison, where he would soon die. This left Jason to protect his mother for a short time before she succumbed to drug overdose (supposedly. In reality, the Joker poisoned her, having her only appear dead). This left Jason an orphan, stealing to survive.
Eventually, Jason was severely beaten as a result of his thievery and found himself in a hospital where he met Dr. Leslie Thompkins. She showed him kindness and he repaid her by stealing prescription drugs. He was caught by the Batman, but Leslie convinced him to not give Jason to the police. Instead, he was sent to Wayne Manor where Bruce adopted him and revealed his identity as Batman. He then offered Jason the recently vacated role of the Robin. Jason agreed.
After six months of intensive training, he was out on the field as the second Boy Wonder. Jason was determined to live up to the legacy of Robin that Dick Grayson put in place, but it became apparent that Jason was troubled. He fought recklessly, seemingly haunted by the memory of his father. Jason received mentoring from Nightwing on various martial arts and fighting techniques, and met Roy Harper, offering to be his friend in the future should he be in need of one.
Being put on monitor duty due to his unruly behavior, he one day finds a picture of his mother, Catherine, seemingly alive. He used all his skills to make his way to the middle east without telling Batman, reuniting himself with his mother. It became known quickly that Catherine was being blackmailed by the Joker, and had lured her son there for him. Jason learns that most of his major life events were orchestrated by The Joker, who then brutally beats the boy with a crowbar, and leaves him and Catherine to die at the hands of a time bomb. Batman arrives too late to save them due to Jason's skills in covering his tracks, and is only able to hold Jason's lifeless body in his arms.
However, Jason is revived through time shenanigans, though he retains lasting brain damage from his death. Ra's al Ghul discovered him and kept him in his compound. Talia al Ghul restores his sanity and memories with the Lazarus Pit. She also pleaded to Ducra, the ancient instructor of the All-Caste, to train the boy. He would develop a romantic attraction to Essence during the time.
After leaving the All-Caste, Ducra wanted Jason to let go of his rage and move on. However, Jason thought the only way to get revenge for what the Joker did to him was by rejecting his philosophies and teachings. He eventually joined the League of Assassins, where he would be trained by Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. However, he disliked the fact the group he joined was not interested in justice like he was, but were more interested in self gain. He would eventually leave the League of Assassins and pursue justice elsewhere.
Leaving Gotham on the pretense that "the city deserves itself," Jason Todd formed a freelance mercenary team with Roy Harper and Starfire, the "Outlaws". They set up base in the Caribbean. An old acquaintance, Essence, contacted him to warn about the coming danger of The Untitled. They soon found the Untitled had already annihilated former teachers of Jason's, the All-Caste, in one of their bases in the Himalayas. Vowing revenge, the trio headed to the All-Caste's headquarters, seeking out the Chamber of All. In this pool of history, they learn more about their opponent. Here, they are told to supply S'aru, a four millennia old proctor, with a cherished memory before entering. Jason's memory is revealed to be his time as Robin, particularly a evening he and Bruce took off due to Jason being too ill to fight. The trio then fight a rather large monster, though dispose of it with a fair amount of ease due to their building ability to work together. Upon leaving, Todd was offered his cherished memory back, however, he chose to leave it behind. Later, they found and destroyed a member of the Untitled in Middleton, Colorado. Essence then returned that evening, revealing to Jason that she betrayed the All-Caste in favor of the Untitled due to her mother, Ducra, being possessed by them. However, she is swiftly defeated by the Outlaws as they return to their quest.
Shortly after defeating Suzie Su in Gotham, The Outlaws intercept a transmission asking all Batfamily members to help in taking down the Court of Owls. Jason reluctantly agrees and soon finds a talon attacking Mr. Freeze. He breaks up the fight but the talon escapes while he and Mr. Freeze confront each other. Jason follows and tracks down the Talon to an empty Haly's Circus lot, where he 'has a heart-to-heart with a reanimated assassin.' The Talon introduces himself as Xiao Long, and asks Jason to end his life. Starfire and Arsenal defeat Freeze and Jason delivers him to Barbara Gordon, leaving Gotham soon after.
Todd, like the rest of the Batfamily, was requested by Dick Grayson to meet up at the Batcave for a briefing. A few members expressed concern toward Todd being invited, namely Damian Wayne, though Dick was quick to defend him. Bruce then informed them that the Joker had apparently discovered all their identities and was planning on attacking them in private. Todd left but was soon ambushed by the Joker and held captive, along with Tim Drake, in an unknown location. Here, Todd discovered that Joker had effectively been torturing him all his life. Apparently, the Joker had wanted to create a Robin who would cross the line Batman was unwilling to cross. Refusing to give further information, Joker then knocked the duo out. Later, they awoke with the rest of the Batfamily in the cave where they were gassed to kill each other. However, they all managed to become immune from his mind control through the love and trust they shared with each other. Scarred by what he had learned by the Joker and the events that had unfolded, Jason refused to meet up to find out whether Alfred was safe. Despite this, Jason and Bruce had finally reconciled their differences after he discovered Bruce had waited by his bedside after Jason had a particularly dangerous and almost deadly chemical reaction to the Joker's gas.
After the events of Death of the Family, Jason went back to the temple of the All-Caste and had all painful memories erased from his mind by S'aru, ultimately resulting in no recollection of his friends, enemies, allies, and experiences. Roy takes him back to their base of operations, where he discovers what he's done and believes himself to be nothing more then a killer. Green Arrow arrives on their island to warn them of a large bounty on the Outlaws heads, but Roy begins to panic, fearing that Oliver had led their enemies to them. Cheshire attacks them after seemingly killing Kori and confronts Jason, saying "We've got a bigger destiny for you." Before she can capture him, Kori attacks her and carries her off the island, followed by Cheshire teleporting away. In the midst of the battle, Jason runs off in an attempt to find out who he really is.
While Roy visits Hugo Strange for therapy, Jason continues to drive off but is attacked by several members of the League of Assassins. After his initial defeat, they ask him to go with them and assure him that they won't kill him. he agrees, thinking that he may receive the answers he is looking for. They take him to 'Eth Alth'eban, the city of the League of Assassins, and Bronze Tiger tells him this is where his new life will begin as the new leader of the League of Assassins. Jason begins to explore the ancient city. They gather and tell him that only he knows how to save the League from the Untitled, but he tells them that his memory is gone, therefore he doesn't remember how to defeat the Untitled. Lady Shiva threatens to take control, but as she does so, Roy arrives in the name of the Untitled to destroy the gates to the city. Roy initially seems to have the upper hand but Jason and the League engage him and defeat him. Roy destoys a wall of rock, revealing the "Well of Sin". Jason agrees to lead them provided the league does not kill his friends. The Untitled breach the city soon after and begin to engage the League. As the battle continues, jason confronts the leader and throws him into the well of sins, taking his power away. he is killed and Lady Shiva rounds up the other members. As Jason displays his disdain for Shiva's killing, the last member of the Untitled reveals himself to be Ra's al Ghul, and he resumes control of the assassins once more.
Jason is captured and chained soon after. he apologizes to Roy and Kori for all he'd done and, as his friends are being executed, he gains his memories back. He and Cheshire free the Outlaws and Jason enters the well of sins to face Ra's al Ghul. After initially being outmatched, Jason defeats Ra's and takes his power away. Essencearrives and helps the Outlaws escape the city, arriving in the Chamber of All. She expresses her thanks and asks if Jason would join in the rebuilding of the All-Caste, but he declines and the three leave the temple.
Feeling his former protégé deserved a second chance, Batman offered Jason a place in Batman Incorporated as the second Wingman, only asking that he do not reveal his identity to the others. He teamed up with Damian Wayne, who operated under the name Redbird, though Damian was unaware of this. Upon finding out who his partner all this time had been, Damian reacted as hurt and confused. This was doubled by the fact that Bruce then informed him that he was to be benched as Robin until further notice. Despite the fact he was now apart of Batman Incorporated, Jason barely got involved with the team and was not present when Damian was killed. However, he did approach Bruce upon learning of the fourth Robin's demise and attempted to sooth whatever pain he was feeling. However, upon finding his old mentor driven to cruel emotionless drive in his grief to bring Damian back, Jason once again cut himself off from the Batfamily.
Red Hood and the Outlaws
The DC Rebirth introduces the revival of Red Hood and the Outlaws. Jason Todd's backstory reverts to his original meeting with Batman occurring while trying to steal tires from the Batmobile. Batman takes him in and raises him as the new Robin, though realizes early on that Jason has a violent streak. After Jason is killed by the Joker and resurrected in the Lazarus Pit, he goes on to become the Red Hood, straining his relationship with Batman. The new team consists of Jason Todd as Red Hood, the disgraced Amazon warrior named Artemis, and the Superman clone called Bizarro. This team is referred to as DC's "Dark Trinity" in comparison to the new Trinity series included in DC Rebirth which follows Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
To become Robin, Jason Todd was trained by Bruce Wayne, just as Dick Grayson was. Batman instructed him in acrobatics, detective work, marksmanship and martial arts. After his return, he expands on his training by learning from people of the same caliber as those who trained his ex-mentor Batman.
Through Talia al Ghul's access to Kord Industries, as well as being 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. Although Jason does not possess the wealth of Bruce Wayne, his arsenal is nearly on a par with Batman's technology. Jason is not afraid to kill, making him a ruthless antihero.
Having been trained by Batman in investigation, 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.
Jason Todd has a number of allies including Batman, Nightwing, Red Robin, Robin(Damian Wayne), Batgirl, Huntress, Artemis, Starfire, Arsenal, Bizarro and many more.
Over the years Jason has made a number of enemies including the Joker, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Black Mask, Two-Face, Hugo Strange, Killer Croc, Deathstroke and many more.
|Batman #357(1983)||Gerry Conway||Don Newton, Alfredo Alcala, Adrienne Roy|
|Batman: A Death In The Family(Batman #426-429)||Jim Starlin||Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy|
|Batman: Hush||Jeph Loeb||Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair|
|Batman: Under The Red Hood(Batman #635-650)||Judd Winick||Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen, Alex Sinclair|
|Batman: Battle For The Cowl||Tony Daniel||Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, Ian Hannin|
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