Real talk, Bat-fans, do you guys really like the New 52 direction for Jason Todd? I really want to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll get to the review in a minute but I want to address this first. Let’s face it, this review is late anyway so who cares, am I right?

The way I’ve always viewed the Batman mythology prior to reviewing these things on a regular basis (and having to explain myself in essay form every Wednesday) I always viewed Jason Todd like this:

  • A street kid and average Gotham City punk who never really should have been Robin but Bruce took a chance on him anyway. Recruiting this boy turned out to be a mistake that would ultimately haunt Bruce Wayne forever, mark the darkest moment in Batman’s longtime war on crime and it served as evidence that even The Dark Knight is not infallible. Behind these spoiler tags is where I went off point and this segment turned into a long rant about how irked I am that Jason was ever revived, something I could’ve swore I came to terms with years ago… You can ignore what’s behind the spoiler tags
    Spoiler
    Years later he was brought back to life and we introduced more magic-alien-extra-dimensional shit into my Batman mythology and I hated it. Yes, the DC movie “Under the Red Hood” did a WAY better job of bringing the character back to life but I still feel that Jason was better left dead. One of the greatest themes in Batman– when you get right down to it– is that it’s about a guy who cannot accept loss. He’s what happens when you don’t move on from death but to an absolutely ridiculous extreme. Death should mean more in Batman comics because it’s the very thing his origin hinges upon. He had all the wealth and power in the world to do everything except MOVE ON from his parents death and introducing the idea into his world that death can be reversed (as we see with Jason) tarnishes the very core of the Batman mythology. At least with Ra’s al Ghul’s resurrections there was some madness, a perversion to the return like a bit of Ra’s soul was gone every time he stepped out of the pit and he became so fearful of dying and obsessed with finding more pits and extending his life forever that the lazarus pit route was never an option for Bruce when it came to his parents, but Jason seems fine! Bruce’s parents died and he doesn’t want that to ever happen to anyone ever again…but if there’s a way out there now to cure dying and Bruce has all the wealth and power to acquire it, don’t you think he would pull his parents back from oblivion or maybe integrate that resurrection method into his crusade? Every time there’s a murder case, Batman could take the bodies off somewhere for resurrection and nobody would ever have to feel the pain of loss like he did. I’m rambling for too long and went way off point…I’ll put this behind spoiler tags. I spent too much time on it to delete it. While we’re in the safety of spoiler tags, where rambling is totally fine, I’ll go ahead and say that my favorite movies so far this year are “Gravity” and “Mud.”

And now in the New 52 I view him more like this:

  • A street kid destined for greatness yet also a pawn of the Joker. He not only met the Joker before Bruce but he met Talia before Bruce did as well (at least as far as we know right now). Every step in Jason’s recruitment by Batman was set in motion by the Joker from the first time Batman saw him to the moment Joker killed him with a crowbar. With Batman only fighting crime for about 6 years total, he probably only got to know Jason for a few months to a year and Jason likely wasn’t dead all that long either. Jason’s magical destiny came back into play after his demise where he was resurrected and trained by mystical and immortal tribes.

So which do you prefer: punk and terrible mistake destined to be remembered mostly as the most somber piece in Batman’s trophy room? Or punk and pawn destined for greatness and a cool helmet?

The Actual Review

Seeing as how all of that went on for pretty long (especially when you count the spoiler tag rant, sorry about that) I’ll go ahead and say that this was okay. Actually, wait, there’s something else I want to get off my chest!

What I’d Like to see Red Hood and the Outlaws become but it probably won’t happen

Yeah, I know, it’s a week-late review so I’m just totally doing whatever this time around. Don’t like it? More concise reviews will happen tomorrow. I can also save you some time by going ahead and saying that this book got an average reviewer score of 8.1 without my input and that sounds pretty good.

So here’s my idea: I like Starfire but she seems really out of place in this book and I’d much rather see Roy in like Teen Titans or Green Arrow or, hell, headlining his own title for a bit. These two characters are great, but I really think Red Hood works better on a street level, however, we still need some outlaws. Who do we know who are outlaws?

Nightwing & Batgirl.

The obvious reason why this wouldn’t work is that both characters already have their own titles that sell well, but let’s just not have it be an ongoing thing. Since “The Outlaws” are never clearly stated i.e. “Red Hood and Arsenal and Starfire” there’s no reason why we can’t make this a team-up book that’s constantly changing to showcase Red Hood with various heroes and villains who are on the run. Batgirl is currently “Wanted” in her own title and Nightwing just got outed in Forever Evil. It makes sense to me, but maybe I should just stick to reviewing and not waste your time with hypotheticals and speculation.

The Actual Review — for real this time (and it’s short)

I can pick apart a lot of things I didn’t care for but really I liked it. It has a good pace, plenty of action to keep me interested, and the artwork by Jeremy Huan is a MASSIVE improvement on what I saw before I gave up on the title a couple months ago. If you want a tie-in that’s less about the disaster but more about the supporting characters of Batman connecting for one night then this is the one for you. Just don’t think about everything too hard because there’s a lot of coincidence at play here. One big problem I had was that I don’t think we needed all of the big-name cameos of upper echelon Batman characters or name-dropping regarding Ducra, etc. etc. It’s a fun issue that tried a little too hard to make Jason cross paths with individuals who would play a major part in his life half a decade later. I could’ve done without all the nods to the audience like “see… because he’s going to be named Red Hood one day! See… he’s going to be trained by them! See… he’s going to be used by him! See… he’s holding a crowbar and that’s the thing Jason gets killed by! See… he’s already a naturally gifted fighter! See… those guys will be his enemy one day too!” Jason basically had one day back when he was 15 that summed up everything his life would be about after he would be brought back from the dead.

Spoiler
I also hated that Jason perfectly executed a mystical punch on his first try, but that falls into that category of “I hate that Jason was destined for greatness” If you’re cool with all that then you’ll dig it. I won’t be reading anymore of this comic for a while now, but I would definitely bet that Jason uses that five point palm exploding heart technique on whoever the main bad guy is in the current arc sometime soon.

Recommended If…

  • You want to see Joker’s first ever post-ACE Chemical appearance
  • You love all of the All-Caste/Immortals stuff from both Lobdell and Tynion’s Red Hood & the Outlaws run
  • You fall into the category of Jason Todd fan who loves the idea of Jason being naturally gifted and destined for greatness

Overall

It’s passable but overly prophetic. Over the course of a single evening 6 years ago, Jason Todd crossed paths with everyone that would play a major role in the first 24 issues of the New 52 Red Hood & the Outlaws series. Still there are some cool moments with a very creepy Clown Prince of Crime fresh from the acid bath and there’s no shortage of action. The artwork is also much improved over what I saw a few months back.

SCORE: 6/10