Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jason Todd: Death and Rebirth

After some particular text in the Futures End RHATO issue I thought it was time to go over this. The mystery revolving around Jason's rebirth in the new 52.

In Secret Origins #5 we see that Jason still dug his way out of his coffin and wasn't all there when this occurred. Originally under Winick pre-Flashpoint this was because of Superboy Prime changing history and Jason's own brain damage from Jokers' attack. Back in RHATO #2 Talia told Durca that his soul was absent until he was put in the Lazarus pit which Ra's was cool with much to their surprise. (*1) Talia had no idea how he came back to life. RHATO #0 showed that Jason's first memory after his rebirth was being in the pit. SO #5 shows this was actually a very painful experience for him, the Futures End tie in has Jason claim it was worse than his death. Although she's not aware of the how of his return Talia and her men were present when he climbed out. (*2) How did she know? Yes she pays attention to all thing connected to Batman but she wasn't surprised. This hasn't been clarified.

Curiously she is unsettled to the point she recoils after he steps out of the pit and Jason notes he's scared of himself too. Think of this a moment. Jason's fear is understandable as he was a normal kid that's suddenly back from the dead. Talia is used to such things thanks to her father yet something about him frightened her. If I had to guess I'd say his unexplained rebirth which even Ra's can't do or explain. Jason does have some abilities that aren't explained and he tends to hide from others. His ability to see Essence when his friends didn't comes to mind. He walks away from them specifically to talk to her and when he realized they don't see her smoke form he shrugs it off as nothing. It's not until Essence and him fight that the cat comes out of the bag as she appears to their eyes.

Although it's not talked about in depth seeing his teachers become undead then having to destroy them clearly upsets him.

In his run in with Talon Xiang Loong and him share a moment of understanding. When he first hears that Talons are undead it unsettles him and he instantly relates to the situation. Much to Jason's confusion he finds himself opening up about his own death. Even showing compassion to the man that tried to kill him mere minutes prior to their talk. More than that Jason is able to dissect what Loong is trying to tell him during their fight, something not every bat character did with with their Talon. When Loong asks to be put out of his misery Jason hesitates. The underlined message being that Jason relates because he's still struggling with his death and rebirth. Loong only gets him agree to mercy kill because he knows what it's like to suffer. (*3) The topic of his death isn't something he discusses much. The only time he's really let anyone know how horrible it was (in the new 52) was when he told Bruce off for bringing him to the place he died. While Futures End is just a possible future it does bring up things Jason has never said before.

He says he was dragged "kicking and screaming" from heaven by the pit. (*4) While Jason has been shown being in heaven pre-flashpoint this is the first time it's been mentioned by him. This does confirm that his soul was absent prior to being put into the Lazarus Pit. It also gives a big reason for why he was so miserable once he returned. Especially since the tie in highlights how lonely Jason is without his friends. In present day it gives insight to how he feels/felt about his loner status before RHATO started. In canon he not only felt rejected by his surrogate family but isolated because of returning from the dead. Which makes Bruce's betrayal in Batman and Red Hood #20 far more devastating as he's forcing Jason to relive a traumatic moment and reduces him to a disposable tool who's feeling don't matter.

In his cameo in Johns JL issue Alfred doesn't seem to know how to handle Jason's return and is in denial over he fact he died at all. I've seen people comment how awkward Jason is with comforting Alfred seeming to gloss over his own fragile state after everything. He thinks only Damian's death matters and while Alfred rebuffs this has anyone proven otherwise?  Tim comes the closest as he explains why he can forgive him since he understands the PTS and confusion involved. At the same time he confirms that no one else in the family gets it and they can only hope they do in the future.

Jason refers to mobs in Hong Kong as being the first normal people he had been around since his rebirth. His reluctance to endanger Isabel by bringing her into his life yet yearning for normalcy is also present. In #32 Jason even feels lonely when Kori and Roy start getting flirty until Kori assures him that he'll always have them. His thoughts change from not caring for public displays to not ever wanting to take what he has for granted the instant she comforts him. Throughout the series he longs for closeness to others yet struggles at letting them close due to bad experiences. When someone hurts him or breaks his trust he takes it hard but he still cares for them. This was the case in the Futures End issue as he still cares for Roy despite the rift between them. Without his family and friends Jason falls into a deep depression and can only focus on his suffering. Then we get this information:

Immortal? photo imagejpg1_zpsc1ab6e51.jpg

This is something that hasn't been mentioned before, the possibility of Jason having immortality. Now I've seen some dismiss this like the divorce mention. The idea some had with Lobdell meaning Jason was married to Kori has to do with the word usage although it doesn't only have to do with actual marriage and he never hints at their relationship going that far. This one I think actually means immortality because of what Jason is saying. Most of this page is serious as he relates how much he hates his current life. The only things that are sarcastic are the thought of certain people having power and mocking the joy of being immortal. Jason talks about healing three days from being wounded by Roy, specifically being shot. Although there are bullet holes on his jacket the only place we see him shoot is at the head and the first page shows it went THROUGH the helmet. He also fell from an impressive height so healing from either isn't something a mortal could do. The bitterness when he says "if I have to live--and apparently I do" means it's not by his choice because he knows there's nothing he can do about it.

Whether or not Lobdell explores this will be interesting and certainly changes what we knew about Jason's connection with death.

*1 I took this as Ra's having an interest in discovering how Jason came back to life which was mentioned then dropped by Winick. If Ra's could figure out a way to cheat death without depending on the Lazarus pits wonldn't he be okay with giving him all the help he needed? I always thought it was strange that Winick made him refuse when for all he knew Jason knew the reason.

*2 She was present at his grave in Secret Origins #5

*3 Which also implies Jason has or had a deathwish (which was basically confirmed in UTH although no one has outright said it in either timeline.)

*4 If I remember right Green Arrow returned from the dead sans soul in Kevin Smiths' run because he didn't want to come back. Although I think it worked differently than Jason is portrayed without his soul.

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