Saturday, September 15, 2012

Open Letter to James Tynion IV / Review

My thoughts on the Batman #0 back up "Tomorrow"

Let me say that I do like the premise of this story. I love the idea of seeing what the bat kids were all doing moments before they were inspired by the bat symbol and that the potential was already within them. Yeah Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown aren’t in this but I can understand the constraints put on the writers in the current new 52 where they aren’t allowed to use those characters. In Cassandras’ case, like Damian, she wouldn’t even be in Gotham at this time period. I haven’t been a fan of how Barbara Gordon has been written since the relaunch so when I say I enjoyed her characterization understand that hasn't been the norm of late.

No, the problem I had with this back up was the Jason Todd bit. First off let me thank you for writing Jason as a caring person. Too many writers forget about Jason being someone that’s passionate about protecting innocents and being so empathic to others’ pain. That's a driving part of who he is that usually gets written off as being him being the “angry bad Robin.” I know that Jason didn’t kill Chris but I can see how this was misunderstood by many readers. The text Jason and the cop have is rather ominous.

My problem with the scene goes deeper than this misunderstanding starting with the fact Jason was even involved in this blotched hold up to begin with. When Jason Todd was introduced post-crisis his morals were explored before he was taken in by Batman. He wasn’t someone Bruce instantly picked up to replace Dick Grayson, he made a deal with Jason to try to help him better himself. The deal was for Jason to go to Ma Gunns’ school. This was run by a woman that already impressed Bruce Wayne and had a good image in Gotham. Only the school was a cover for Ma Gunn to run her own crime operation with kids being trained to do her dirty work. Yes it was campy but it worked in getting the point across with what Jason Todd believed in. Refusing to be part of it he left the school to return to the streets and steal car tires. Batman thought he backed out on their deal when Jason told him the truth about the place and explained that he had standards. He didn’t want to learn how to be a crook he just stole what he needed to survive.

This also had a nice twist in showing how fake an image could be. Ma Gunn wasn't the great humanitarian she presented herself as and Jason was more than a thief.

Since he didn’t think Batman believed him Jason showed up at one of the break ins Gunn put together to stop the crime himself. Now he could have told the police but he claimed not to be a snitch. This brings up another problem I have with his section of your story. Jason seems to have been pressured into this crime with Chris and panics even though he assumed the gun was empty and no one would get hurt. I just can’t see Jason ever acting like this. If he doesn’t believe in something he’s not going to go through with it and makes his opinion known. He’s the kid that was gutsy enough to steal the tires off the batmobile and showed no fear against Batman. That hit Batman to escape during their first meeting. At Ma Gunns’ school he proves himself by taking on three much bigger guys at once without hesitating.

He goes to a crime scene to stop it, fighting against men with guns and planned to do this without Batman being there. Not once does he flinch or get scared. In fact this would be seen as a problem since Batman would later say that Jason was never scared enough. If Tim’s main trait is his brains then Jason would be known for his bravery. He's shown as cool and in control in very tense situations. It’s only after seeing Jasons’ morals, his fighting skills and how together he was against armed men that Batman decides to take him in.

I admit seeing him freak out to the point he reveals his name during the hold up made me wince because that’s not the street smart kid I’ve been reading up on for years. The kid that was trying to avoid the law so he wouldn’t have to go into foster care and knew how to act under pressure. Dick and Tim get to be heroes while Jason has to stop something he was partly responsible for. It hurts to see Jason put into these situations. While there have been far worse portrayals of him over the years this one struck a chord with me. Mainly because it's his pre-Robin days. Those were the times that helped shaped him into someone Batman saw as a worthy Robin.

Other writers have him as the bad one when he was always the one with the most to lose and thus, to me, always fought the hardest. He’s not like most of the bat family. Jason Todd may of become a less street based character over the years but out of all of them his origins were the most humble. He didn’t come from a rich family or have a hero like Jim Gordon as a dad. Jason didn’t even have the fantastical backround of a circus performer or grow up being trained by assassins. He was a poor kid that most wrote off as a loss cause and as such it hurt a whole lot more to see him shown as such. I liked that you showed his humanity but it saddens me to see these important bits of his character weren’t included. Because those are the traits that made him a hero in the first place.

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