Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Delving into the Psyche of Red Hood

A look into Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2 to see what the issue says about Jason Todd.

We learn at the end that Jason has been seeing an illusion the entire issue that the psychic Psion alien Plytus created in hopes of tricking him into a mercy kill. While a lot of the mind-scape was a manipulation to get Jason there it's fairly obvious that a lot of it came from Jason himself.

Koriand'r: Honestly, I'm not following any of this. Humans holidays are weird.

For example it makes sense for Kori not to understand Christmas and there's no way Plytus would either. That comes from Jason's mind because he knows about it. So why is most of the illusion centered around the holiday with the trio as children? Again this is coming from Jason and since this takes place at Christmas his mind was obviously on the holiday as well as his past. It's never mentioned how he personally feels about Christmas but it seems that as a poor kid with neglectful parents he didn't have many happy ones. So here he's a child caught in the utter joy of the season with his two best friends at the only place he felt a family connection--Wayne Manor. The place is even decorated to the nines with Alfred dusting in the background. This acts like a wish fulfillment luring Jason into the scenerio by giving him something he wants.

The innocent set up only changes when "Santa" is revealed to be Suzie Su trying to kill them. Now Jason could have been given a completely mundane set up but that isn't what Plytus wants, he needs someone willing to kill him. Taking that away renders the whole thing useless hence danger is added. His friends rely on him for their next move with Roy referring to him as "Jayboss" to reinforce the need for Jason to call the shots throughout this. He does and they kill Suzie Su. Now Suzie last appeared back in RHATO #8 when Jason was feeling bad for her since he drew parallels from his own life. He tried to get her to give up on her desire for vengeance. When she refused to quit he killed her. The choice in using her here makes sense for those reasons and the fact he loathed her for what she did in the past. It successfully gets him to act in the mind frame Plytus wants.

As a reward for killing her a candy cane appears. The candy canes materialize two more times when they escape from the bat cave and after slaying the reindeer. As he later deducts they are prizes to lead him to the right place. As little Jason he swipes them not wanting to share them with his friends (who stop noticing after the first one) and seems guilty when he thinks their catch him. It's a small detail that I took a couple of ways. I don't think Jason could get Christmas candy often so he'd likely steal it and feel bad about it. Of course he's supposed to be the one that gets it here but he still wants to keep it for himself.

Batman appears right after to scold them for killing someone. While Jason claimed he never saw Batman as a father figure in RHATO #17 he refers to him as dad here. The dark knight tells them off and as punishment throws them into the bat cave until they can "behave." From a meta standpoint this is interesting as he doesn't just see Bruce as his dad but has him actually punishing him. Something Batman doesn't really do with any of his kids. In this story Jason thinks it's to stop them from rebelling but I could see it working into how he sees Bruce too. As someone ready to condemn him for their actions yet in a weird way tries to stop Jason from going through with what Plytus wants. As if his subconscious knows something is wrong and uses Bruce as a way to attempt to stop himself. Although it does get darker when Batman actually throws batarangs that just miss him (I don't know if it's still canon but Bruce did cut Jason's neck with one in UTH.) All Batman can do from there is uselessly wag his finger at the trio.

Having Kori and Roy by his side gets Jason where he's needed. He seems to have a good grasp of who they are as well as what they provide. When they arrive at the North Pole they all want to go to places they'd normally explore. Jason wanting to check the residence to confront the main man, Roy wanting to see the goodies in the workshop and Kori needing to look in on the creatures. Roy is a genius who Jason trusts to figure out any hi-tech gadget although he still knows it'll be a face palming process. When he's piecing things together it's Roy that voices this out loud.

Roy Harper: I get it now...

Kori isn't someone he thinks needs his help so he doesn't get worried when he hears her scream. Plytus naturally wouldn't see Kori as a warrior as he's only seen her when he was torturing her. During their travel in the sleigh when the boys are freezing Kori provides them with a warm embrace.

Koriand'r: What are friends for if not to keep each other all warm and fuzzy?

Having the three of them snuggle is the happiest Jason is this entire issue and he even laughs in response to her statement. He likes the sentiment and it's likely how he feels. This might have triggered warning bells since he was too content as the very next panel he's clutching his head in pain. I don't think this was the fault of the psychic as the person he's leading to him is closer to his location. Neither of his friends notice as their mental constructions meant to keep Jason happy and on target. That only makes Jason more suspicious and he realizes everything is off. He can't remember all of it because Plytus won't let him and they ignore him to get back to their Santa mission.

Due to his willpower and training Jason is able to resist which allows him to come back to reality. Despite being used and learning he's dealing with the alien that tortured his friend he still grants a mercy kill. I think this is partly because of the illusion which was a nice fantasy except for the killing. Still it does make me wonder what was going on while Jason was caught in this dream. Was he acting out everything he saw? We know he was aiming at "Santa" which was really Plytus. The sled was likely Cruxs' ship which he used to get there. The big metal door likely the entrance to the prison. So was Jason unknowingly fighting his friends when he was attacking "Suzie" and dodging "Batman"? Were the "Reindeer" just security for the prison? Did Helspont and Blackfire watch him take an invisible candy cane?

Regardless this issue gave me a lot to think about and worked as a good character piece. 

No comments:

Post a Comment