The world of Batman is one of the most well known in popular culture, from his Rogue Gallery to his gadgets. There are people within it who walk the same path and there are those who fight against it. Red Hood is someone who exists somewhere in between. For the character spotlight today I’ll be focusing on Jason Todd and why he is the most human character I’ve ever encountered.
Born to a junkie mother and abusive father, Jason had to grow up from an early age, living on the streets to survive. He met Batman in Crime Alley after he stole the wheels off the Batmobile. Recognising a kindred spirit, Batman took Jason in and he became the second Robin. During the events of the 1988 A Death In The Family arc, fans were given the choice to influence the plot of whether Jason could die. Over 10,000 votes were casted and the final vote came to 5343 against 5271.
Jason was beaten to a pulp with a crowbar by The Joker and blown up after trying to save his mother. Batman was unable to reach him in time and his death haunted The Dark Knight for years. Then, in 2005, Judd Winick resurrected Jason as the vengeful Red Hood in the critically acclaimed Under The Hood arc. Jason was motivated by killing criminals in contrast to Batman’s lenience, and their relationship hasn’t been the same since.
It’s Jason’s willingness to kill that makes him one of the most complex characters in the DC Universe. For a long time, fans only saw him as a replacement Dick Grayson, leading him to be killed off. As someone who lived on the streets, Jason has always felt he has something to prove, to step out of the shadow of the first Boy Wonder and Batman. He’s a survivor, someone with deep wounds. He returned from the dead and is fighting for what he believes in. He sees himself as just another Robin, but has far more worth than he realises.
Jason has an affinity for children, hating to seem them come to any harm. He also has a lot of compassion for others who’ve been through similar experiences, as seen in the Red Hood and The Outlaw series by Scott Lobdell. During this time when the New 52 started, Jason received a lot of character development by being paired with Starfire and Arsenal. The trio worked together and Jason realised he didn’t have to be defined by his tragedy or his animosity with Batman. In time, he and Bruce were able to reach an understanding and he was welcomed back into the family.
With DC Rebirth, the new Red Hood and The Outlaws series has proven to be one of the strongest comics to come out of the relaunch. Jason is set to work with the Amazon Artemis and the Superman clone, Bizzaro. Readers have been shown a depth to Jason that hasn’t been explored before. He’s the only one who doesn’t see Bizzaro as a monster and his dynamic with Artemis is hilarious.
The best way to describe Jason is by examining the current relationship with his mentor.
“I’m the guy who can do the things that Batman can’t. Become someone that Batman won’t. Am I the man Bruce wanted me to become? Not even close. But someday soon he’ll realise….I’m exactly who he needs.”
Jason is focused on walking his own path, but he’s determined to live up to Bruce’s ideals and make him proud. We all have a character we connect with the most, whether through shared experiences or because we see a part of ourselves in the story. I connect with Jason Todd because he’s a guy who has been damaged, but isn’t letting it stop him from living his life. He does what he thinks is right, even when making the hard choices. It’s an example of true bravery.
Finally, I’d like to show a video that I think perfectly captures his relationship with the rest of the Bat Family.