I held off on this one for a couple of reasons. After the Nightwing issue I didn't feel like reading any other zero issues for awhile. But the main reason was my leeriness at writers touching Jasons' backround, even one that's been writing him for a year. Not just because there are certain nuances that get over looked or misunderstood. In general writers take the poor kid growing up in a rough neighborhood in directions I rather not see. Plus Lobdell did warn this was a sad story that's not easy to read.
This is the first time we really get a look at Jasons' parents. Most of the things that have been said about them have been in passing or the storyline Death in the Family. In past canon we knew that Willis Todd was a small time thug that worked for Two-Face that was barely ever home (usually in prison), had a relationship with Jasons' birth mother (Shelia) before marrying Catherine. This verison ditches the Shelia stuff making Catherine his birth mother. Jasons' conception isn't a romantic affair. While Jasons' mom is giving birth to him Willis is hitting on a nurse and making plans to meet her in the parking lot. His "classy" side is expanded on as he drinks and while drunk once bragged to Jason that he ran away from a hit and run.
We see baby Jason, Jason Toddler, and small Jason. His parents fight, his dad works a lot and his mom falls into a depression. She uses drugs to try to cope. Jason takes care of his mom when she's like this then his dad when he's drunk. Willis teaches Jason the trade, feels a weird bit of pride for his kid and had his own meeting with Batman. His dad goes to prison and dies there. Catherine hit the drugs again despite Jason fending off any drug dealers that came around. She was "gone" by the time he found her.
With both parents out of the picture Jason starts stealing making an effort to never hurt anyone, although others weren't so nice to him. After being beaten up Jason meets Leslie Thompkins who talks to him about second chances. Being the jaded person he is Jason doesn't believe her and tries to steal from her only to get caught by Batman. I don't like this change. I mean I could see it being unlikely that a kid could survive on the streets as long as Jason did stealing tires but that Jason had guts. He wasn't impressed or scared by Batman and his spunk was what interested Bruce. This Jason is and only Leslie telling Batman to lay off keeps things from getting worse.
Bruce takes Jason in not telling him who he really is. This is another twist I'm not sure how to feel. There were problems with Jasons' old origins but I like that Bruce actually met Jason a few times before deciding to take in another kid. This just makes me shrug as it looks like Bruce found a kid in need and figured "why the hell not?" He doesn't know what Jason is capable of or have an idea of his morals. Post-Crisis Jason made it very clear that he wasn't a liar and had standards. While Jason has said that he never hurt anyone Bruce doesn't know that. It's not even said if he ever got caught outside of Leslie taking him into her clinic so we don't know if any record would give him insight. Instead of being touched by a spirited boy that could hold his own in a fight and held onto a belief system despite living in crime alley Bruce just seems to do this on Leslies' say.
Alfred is less than pleased that Bruce picked up another kid. Even though he was living in the mansion Jason chose to hang out with Alfred rather than Bruce. That's an interesting change that actually makes sense given the fact he didn't know Bruce was Batman. He'd feel closer to "the help" than some rich guy that decided to help out "a friend of a friend." But Bruce decides Jason needs to know the truth and tells him the whole thing. This is another reason some of these zero issues should have had more than one issue. I would have loved to see the whole scene instead of having it trimmed down to the basics. Jason hears all that and basically has the same reaction any of us would if someone told us they were Batman. He doesn't believe it because it doesn't seem like the truth.
Of course no Jason Todd origin would be complete without Bruce being more than a little creepy. Bruce tells Jason this and leads him into the cave. Unlike Dicks' new origin Bruce flat out asks Jason to be his partner. But the unsettling part is that he already has a Robin suit made for Jason as Alfred says there's an opening. Okay...that's kinda fast. For the first time Jason isn't sure if he can do the Robin thing but he'll give it a try. He's just worry he'll screw it up. Alfred assures him they'd never let that happen.
The anger Jason feels when he's fighting the bad guys gets a new twist too as he feels like he's fighting his own demons. His problems with his own dad and how he's trying to cope with a new one. Which brings us to the DCnU version of "Death in the Family." Jason is given monitor duty which he translates to one step away from being fired. He sees a picture of a woman that looks like Catherine and runs away because he wants to see her. But it was a set up. In this version the thugs hold a gun to her head to keep Jason from fighting back as the Joker hits him with a crowbar. Well it's a hell of a lot shorter and cuts a bunch of stuff out but yeah, it's far better than the old DITF. So much didn't make sense in the original and the Jason bits were the only good part. I can see that getting confusing and why keep the bit with the Joker being an ambassador? Anyway Jason wakes up in the pit.
Back Up Story: The Man Who Created Red Hood
While the main one was told by Jason this is told by the Joker. It seems that the Joker had more of a hand in Jasons' turn into Robin in this version. Feeling bored he takes an interest in the scene on the other side of the two way glass at the underground clinic the Todds went to get the bullet removed from Willis' back. Seeing Jason he realizes "the bat needs a bird like I need a punchline!" (Though this train of thought obviously changes before Death of the Family.) Many of the scenes from Jasons' POV are given another look as we see just what the Joker did to ensure Jason became the boy wonder. Joker arranges for Willis to get arrested, to make it look like Catherine ODed, carried a beaten Jason to Leslie and then set up his death.
The Joker doesn't know how Jason came back and honestly it isn't really explained. Just a figure seen over Jasons' grave, then something spilling onto it. I'm guessing this will be explored later on.
For some reason it didn't affect me as much as the end to RHATO #3. I was less thrilled with the changes in the main story but you know what? I liked the twist with the Joker at the end. It's frightening to think he was such a huge part of Jasons' life and that's really what makes this issue. Guessing by the solicits for upcoming months I think the Joker is going to be watching from a distance until DOTF happens.
Did you Notice?: Jasons' mom is red headed? Urgh, why? This irks the side of me that hates the red headed crap they did with Jason. Catherine was dark haired pre-Flashpoint and Shelia was blonde. If their going to mesh the two characters into one they should have gave her blonde hair since DITF still sells in trade. Although I'm wondering if this is supposed to mean red heads are drawn to him where else Dick has a fixation with them.
I'm not sure if it's implying that Jasons' mom smoked while pregnant or she was frustrated because she couldn't smoke while pregnant. Likely the latter but Shelia did smoke.
Jasons' dad is NO WHERE near as handsome as he used to be. I'm not sure why he's a player since he doesn't have the looks or charm. In the last 'verse I was under the impression that Willis got together with Shelia pretty young when she went off in Medical school. Yeah Jasons' parents are supposed to be young here, Catherine is still in public academy 12 months before Jason is born, but Willis looks mid-aged as a teen.
Jason apparently comes from a bigger family as his parents' families are shown. Willis has six other siblings and it's implied with his moms' black eye that his father was a jackass. Apparently Catherines' parents hated Willis. Not that surprising given the things we're shown about him.
Did the Todds stay at Catherines' parents house for awhile? That home little Jason is in is a lot nicer than the places shown in Crime Alley.
It was kind of amusing to see Catherine and Willis get a kick out of the batarang bruise. But how did the batarang manage to smack his arm like that? A perfect bat shaped bruise?
It looks like Catherine was pregnant when they took Willis off. No mention of a birth so she must of had a miscarriage.
Why the hell is Leslie so freaking young?! She was friends with Bruces' father, at one point she was a romantic interest for Alfred and she was shown as an older woman in Batman #1! There's no reason to make her so young!
Jason in a red hoodie when Bruce finds him. I see what you did there.
I'm guessing the flight attendant part still happened in DITF and Isabel is the same woman because a blonde F.A. is shown as Jason leaves the plane.
In DITF there were four people at Jasons' grave. Bruce, Alfred, Jim Gordon, and Babs in a wheelchair. Instead of Jim it appears to be Dick and Barbara isn't in a wheelchair. Unless Dick and Jason were only Robins for a few months shouldn't she be in one? There's no grave for Catherine either. In the back up Babs isn't there.
Say What?: Jason says his dad taught him the trade but it never explains what the trade was. I'm guessing stealing but why would they keep doing this at the same place? I hope Willis wasn't selling his son off. Because looking at it again give you that vibe.
Jason doesn't know what happened between life and death. Just when he's brought back with the pit. In RHATO #2 Talia says they don't know what brought him back to life. Jasons' body was fine but the soul was missing which is why she put him in the pit. While the Who's Who section gives her credit for bringing him back the unseen person at Jasons' grave seems to be the one who did it.
The Joker hits his henchman to silence him when he starts to name Jasons' dad. He says no names. Yet later on he watches Jason funeral showing that he does indeed know who they all are.
In the Who's Who it says that the Outlaws base is An Island off the Florida Keys. I think that's the island Kori claimed as a home? None of them were seen there since RHATO #6, at least not in this series. I believe Kori was there in the Superman Annual. At least that's how it looked in the scans I saw.