Comic Book Bios: Jason Todd (Robin II/Red Hood)

If there’s ever been a character that needs a biography, it’s Jason Todd. The second Robin has one of the most convoluted histories in comics. His fan disdain is infamous, being voted dead in poll during the 80’s. Jason has meant more dead than he ever did alive.


After the first Robin, Dick Grayson, quit in 1983, Batman returned to the Batmobile, hidden in an alley, to find his tires stolen. A 12 year old homeless boy named Jason Todd took them to sell. So impressed Batman was, he took the boy home, making him his new Robin. I can’t even begin to describe everything wrong with all of that. Looking very similar to Dick Grayson, Todd needed something to distinguish himself from his predecessor, so he was given a badass attitude.

This Robin was constantly angry. Batman took the boy in, hoping to channel his anger into fighting crime hoping he won’t one day become a criminal. After five years of Jason stories, fan vitriol was high. Bat editor Dennis O’Neil decided to create a poll to see what fans wanted. A four part story started in Batman called “A Death in the Family.” At the end of the second issue, he was beaten by the Joker with a crowbar and left to die in an explosion. Fans were given two 900 (toll) numbers and 36 hours to call. Totaling 5,343 to 5,271, Jason was sent to die. The next issue saw Batman fail to reach him in time, and Joker was hired as an ambassador for Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini. It was a weird era.


For years Jason’s costume was seen hanging up behind a glass case in the Batcave. This was always Batman’s greatest failure. It worked well. For a character as driven as he is to fail to badly, it wreaked havoc on him for years, playing into great stories like Knightfall. Eventually a new Robin, Tim Drake, was introduced and life went on. Like every other idea in comics, seeing the case in the background or broken for whatever reason became a little overdone. Still, better dead than alive.


Then 2005 happened. Infinite Crisis was in full swing at DC and all manner of wackiness was happening across the DCU. Judd Winick was heading up the Batman titles and thought it would be fun to bring Jason back to life. He wasn’t concerned with why, just what it would mean for Batman to see his greatest failure alive, and killing criminals. Eventually it was explained how Jason came back to life in Batman Annual #25. Superboy Prime, trapped in some other dimension, punched his way out, causing ripples in reality across the universe. Yep.

Pre-Crisis Jason
Pre-Crisis Jason

Now Jason was up and about, though it quickly became clear that they had no idea what to do with him. After plans to end Dick were shuttered, the character truly became pointless. He wavered between antihero, killing criminals and such, and an outright villain. Resident DC genius and crazy man Grant Morrison added an interesting wrinkle to the character, though it ultimately amounted to nothing. Jason appeared in ’83, pre Crisis, before the universe rebooted. He originally had red hair. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, he was changed to look more like Dick with dark hair. In Morrison’s Batman and Robin series (where Bruce was dead, Dick was Batman and Damian Wayne was Robin), they battled a villainous Todd, discovering his hair was dyed to look black. He admitted that Bruce made him dye his hair, making him look more like Dick. In one fell swoop, he instantly became more interesting. But it didn’t matter because the New 52 happened.

Jason in Batman and Robin
Jason in Batman and Robin

Todd donned the Red Hood moniker, the second to do so (the first being a pre-Joker Joker). With the New 52, Todd became an antihero again in his own book, Red Hood and the Outlaws. He, Arsenal (Roy Harper), and Starfire run around, doing… stuff. It’s terrible. The book received a lot of flack at first for being mostly cheesecake featuring a scantily clad Starfire who has sex with her teammates, because. Jason still appears in Batman books occasionally, used fairly well recently in Snyder’s “Death of the Family.”

Red Hood and the Outlaws
Red Hood and the Outlaws

I will admit his resurrection was redeemed in the animated feature, Batman: Under the Red Hood. Winick, very passionate about the story, rewrote it sans editorial control. This was one of the best animated movies, featuring Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles (<3) as Jason.

Batman: Under the Red Hood
Batman: Under the Red Hood

Jason Todd is a poorly written character. His comeback upsets me because it’s pointless. It was done for the act itself, with no purpose beyond that. Worse is after nearly 10 years, they still haven’t found a purpose for him. He was better off dead, though that wore a little thin too.

What do you think? Waste of space? Not that bad? Comment below!

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  1. The adaptation distillation done in the animated version of this story made it watchable.

    The comic version was a jumbled Claremontian mess.

    1. Winick admitted the comic wasn’t the story he wanted to tell. Editorial mandates from Infinite Crisis forced his hand. He wrote the script for the movie, not reviewing the old books. I think it was a good call.

      Jumbled Claremontian mess. I like that.