Warning: spoilers for Batman: Three Jokers #2, in stores now!
The death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, is considered one of the greatest losses Batman has ever suffered. His death at the hands of the Joker haunted the Dark Knight for years, only amplified when he discovered that Jason Todd had returned to life, operating as the Red Hood.
As Bruce and the other members of the Bat-Family have grown to accept and occasionally rely on the temperamental and violent vigilante, guilt, anger and resentment over his death have cast a long shadow over Bruce and his former partner. However, in Batman: Three Jokers #2, it’s been suggested that Bruce would have done right by Jason, had his surprise resurrection not been hidden from him by outside forces.
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When Jason was infamously murdered in the 1988 “A Death in the Family” storyline by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo, he remained dead until he was brought back, a result of Superboy-Prime warping reality in 2005’s Infinite Crisis. After spending a year in a coma and another year as an amnesiac vagrant, Jason was discovered by Talia al Ghul, who convinced her father Ra’s al Ghul to allow Jason to be submerged into one of his Lazarus Pits. The League of Assassins’ was also responsible for eliminating any trace of Jason’s resurrection to throw Batman and his allies off Jason’s trail, as the Pit restored Jason’s health and memories but potentially made him more mentally unstable and violent. Learning that not only was his death unavenged but that he had been replaced with another Robin, Jason Todd embarked on his own version of Bruce’s legendary training to become Batman, learning all the skills necessary for him to make his official return as the Red Hood in Batman #638.
Since then, Jason has gone from a Batman villain to a contentious ally of the Bat-Family. In Batman: Three Jokers #2 by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok, the Red Hood’s violent and questionable behavior are the subject of an argument between Bruce and Barbara Gordon. Arguing that Jason’s murder of the Joker is grounds for him to be arrested, Batgirl is surprised to find that Batman is against this, explaining that they should be sympathetic to Jason’s suffering.
Batman: Three Jokers essentially declares that Barbara Gordon and Jason Todd were the same – both suffered great trauma because of the Joker, but while Barbara received professional help and support from family and friends, the circumstances of Jason’s resurrection prevented him from receiving that. The core takeaway is that rather than simply failing Jason, Batman was prevented from helping him; a process which it’s suggested would have led to a more successful recovery. This is a subtle deviation from how the events of “A Death in the Family” have been treated since their publication. In most stories, it’s accepted that Jason’s death was Batman’s failure, but with the former Robin’s resurrection now firmly a part of DC canon, the focus is shifting to Bruce Wayne’s choices after Todd’s death, and he looks a lot better in this light.
After Jason recovers from his latest beating at the hands of the Joker(s), his conversation with Barbara has her state that he didn’t receive the same care she did because everybody thought he was dead. By the time they all learned of his return, he had already “healed” and reinvented himself as the Red Hood and that all of the immediate Bat-Family collectively regret not being there for him when he needed their support – something Jason says no-one has told him before. While Batman isn’t completely off the hook, DC seem to be turning his most direct failure into a more nuanced, emotionally complex story. That’s good news for readers, but great news for the Red Hood, who now has avenues to develop into something more than the Bat-Family’s black sheep.
NEXT: Three Jokers Forces Batman To Face His Two GREATEST Failures
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