Jason Todd has one hell of a history. Invented as a replacement Robin after Dick Grayson ran off to become Nightwing, the new Boy Wonder wasn’t a hit with readers and in a pretty insane publicity stunt, DC allowed comic fans to vote whether the character should be killed off. Unfortunately for Jason, they did exactly that and he died at the hands of the Joker soon after. Since then, the character’s been brought back thanks to the Lazarus Pit and he’s never been quite as carefree since. That’s certainly true here as we find Jason taking up the Joker’s very first criminal alter-ego, Red Hood. And while the issue may feel like a lot of recapping for those already familiar with the character, writer Scott Lobdell delivers an excellent overview of the character that also sets up a really compelling conflict for the book going forward.
Jason had a rougher start than some of the other members of the Bat Family. While Dick Grayson was just a fun-loving acrobat-in-training before his parents died and Barbara Gordon was the daughter of a cop who just wanted to do some good, Jason became a criminal by necessity early in life. And while Bruce may have taught Jason that people just need a chance to prove themselves to do the right thing, Batman’s always been a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of guy and he still doesn’t quite trust Jason’s instincts.
Granted, it’s easy to understand why considering the first thing we see present-day Jason do is shoot the mayor in the head. Though Lobdell eventually pulls the rug out from under us and reveals that Jason was working with Batman the whole time, the moment still brilliantly encapsulates what the issue (and by extension, the series) is about.
The issue ends with Bruce warning Jason that if he goes too far in his mission to infiltrate Gotham’s underground crime world, he’ll come after him. And while both Jason and Bruce probably hope it won’t come to that, it’s pretty clear neither of them is totally sure. It’s a really unique dynamic within the DCU and one that’s rife for drama. It’s going to be so much fun to watch it all fall apart.