Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Writers' Block: The Complicated Relationship of Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd Part 4

The journey into becoming someone else and the psychology of what they do. Some other thoughts that came to mind too.

One could argue that all of the bat kids took heroes journeys to become someone else. But Judd Winick purposely made Jasons' post-rebirth training similar to Bruces'. Both had a need to recreate themselves due to tragedy and sought out people that could train them. The relaunch had to change that given the shortened time period by having the All Caste train him. (*1) No one else in the family took a trip to find other teachers to better themselves in secret. (*2) In Zero Year we learn that Bruce was declared legally dead during this period. His uncle Phillip forces him to come out of hiding to try to make him take on the family responsibilities. While it might be somewhat self motivated (*3) Bruce never makes Jason publicly return.

In UTH he mentions the fact that some criminals don't fear Batman because they know he doesn't kill. Jason would know since he grew up in an environment filled with crime. In a lot of ways Jason is more practical than Bruce and he's also more detached. Gotham may be his home but he's distanced himself to the point he's not obsessed with it. He has no particular city to protect, no where that he's lived for more than a short period. Even the island he shared with Kori and Roy often acted as a pit stop before the next adventure. Batman sees his costume as something to strike fear while Jason dislikes the whole "dress up" part of crime fighting. His uniform reflects that with armor, weapons and a causal jacket/hoodie to complete the look.

The bat suit was created to scare his foes while Jasons' Red Hood uniforms make their own statement. At first it's to get the attention of Batman and Joker although there is an element of mockery to it. Winick admitted he never thought further into the name than Jason using it to get to those two. Still what the name represented is important. The Red Hood gang was basically filled with replaceable people. In the Killing Joke it was the identity used to bridge who Joker was and who he would become after his rebirth. Jason views himself as nothing more than a placeholder for Robin (JL #19) and is a different person after his resurrection. I never brought Morrisons' version of the Red Hood look since it lacked Jasons' style (along with other reasons.) He might be mocking others but at least with his original outfit and the ones he wears in his own series he still retains a sense of self.

As pointed out in RHATO the bat symbol he wears is a statement piece that most are likely unaware of. It actually means he's not going to let himself be defined by his past. This might have changed somewhat since he patched things up with Bruce and took another bat symbol. Interestingly he's the only non-bat themed character to wear one.

Technically Bruce has never died though Endgame does have death themes as he considers the likelihood of his own passing. His thoughts go back to the solitude he felt when he fell and believed he died. The comfort he found being in the dark by himself. This is eerily similar to Jasons' own thoughts while on Venom and recalling the peace he felt in his grave. Both yearn for it and being separated from others.

There has been some debate on how crazy Joker is. Real life psychiatrists have said that Joker wouldn't be considered legally insane, a point that's brought up in comics from time to time. Still in the past Jokers' insanity is the only reason he avoids death and one would assume Batman would prove he wasn't to make sure justice prevails. Snyder has his Batman flat out say Joker isn't insane but rather evil. Then again Batman was wrong about Joker not knowing his identity under Snyder. I always felt the people that would know best are those Joker tormented. That's why Winicks' view in UTH rings true to me. Jason knows Joker is crazy just not as insane as he's pretending to be. Jokers' not pleased to hear this implying it's true.

Jason admits in RHA #4 that he always held back when fighting Bruce which fits perfectly with what Winick wrote. The whole point of Jason Todd' return story wasn't him trying to kill Batman or even proving himself superior. It was about making Bruce chose to see what was more important to him. Despite Jason not going all out against his mentor Bruce still has a moment where he seriously worries Jason has surpassed him. Yes, he's that good and Dick also sees the skill to the point he's impressed too. Most writers haven't noticed this often acting like he isn't as good when in reality he's someone Batman concerned about even though he wasn't giving it his all.

*1 The timeframe is one of the reasons the later retcon of the League of Assassins makes no sense. It's said that Jason needed them to train him to be an assassin...except that's exactly what the All Caste did. A week or so after leaving them he attacks a mob funeral. Then he takes out several mob families and takes their money before heading to Gotham. When would he have time for it if the LOA is crammed into this?! And how could he be so out of character to the point he was naïve about what the LOA did?!

*2 I know pre-Flashpoint there were other teachers like Shiva training Tim. I mean the long years worth of journey in preboot or in present canon.

*3 Jason returning would call a lot of attention to Bruce Wayne especially the fact that Dick Grayson was unmasked as Nightwing.


  1. Great analysis.

    As you, I also feel that mentally Jason's the one who's closer to Bruce's train of thought and is possible that understnading is both the reason Bruce has welcomed him back and the schism that keeps Jason from fully accept Bruce as a father figure.

    People keeps getting hung up on the symbol but I don't see it like being a big deal when the story itself doesn't gives any weight. However seeing it like Jason embracing his past seems like an accurate read and one that fit his character (it gets a bit humorous with the reveal he owns regular shirts with the bat)

    While the jacket was a great look, it seems a little restrictive where the hoodie feels more casual. So I think it fits better his current characterization.

    I really wish writers would be willing to see Jason beyond the failure tag and actually started to appreciate his skills for what they are. He's constantly understimated when handled by Batman's office writers.

    And yes, the LOA retcon doesn't makes a lick of sense. The moment I read those pages was the moment I knew Tynion's run it would be a trainwreck.

  2. Thanks.

    Nicely put. I do think Bruce and Jason have a lot in common which Winick managed to highlight pretty well. Their dynamic is fascinating to explore based on how much they think alike and where they differ.

    People still gripe on that? If Bruce doesn't have any objects why should anyone care? Like you said the story doesn't give it any weight so it's not meant to be a big deal. I think this fits a hell of a lot better than him randomly deciding to be Nightwing or Batman. (You mean the shirt Simon wore? I thought that was funny too.)

    I prefer the jacket but the new look has grown on me. Some artists make it look better than others, I hated it when I first saw Howard Porter covers.

    Me too. Everyone knows Jason kept Batman on the ropes for most of UTH they just refuse to acknowledge it. While Lobdell might not always show him at that level he's still skilled.

    Lobdell actually writes about the character not the same plot beats over and over. I might not always feel it's perfect but he's done his research. He has written things about Jason no one else has like a more in depth look at his family. Most writers write him like they never read about him before and are just making up bad boy tropes.

    That run is amazing just for how much canon he gets wrong including his own. Tynion constantly writes Jason like he's some moron that doesn't understand what he's doing or who the bad guys are even before the memory loss. Jason lived in Crime Alley, he wasn't stupid he was street smart and knew things Bruce didn't. They should require the bat writers to read up on these characters.

  3. Indeed, UtRH was really about making Jason at least an equal to Batman so you could really have an even fight between them while also giving them more weight to their respective ideologies. I really hope when Bruce returns to the cowl the dynamic with Jason isn't lost though.

    If you knew all the complaints I've read about it...it has come to a point where I just wonder if people actually reads the stories or just complain for complaint's sake. And yeah, I was talking about Simon.

    the fact Lobdell does his research is what makes all the criticism that he can't give continuity to his stories so irritating. Specially when the examples people uses are either actually Tynion's fault or stuff totally out of Lobdell's control like the flip floping about the titans.

    I'm still amazed Tynion has become a prominent writer for DC, his stuff honestly seems like fanfiction and a poor one at that.

  4. Jason not only could stand toe to toe with Batman but also Green Arrow and when Winick wrote it Nightwing. A lot of times they just sort of shrug and act like he's just one of Batmans' underlings. One of the things I like about the new dynamic that is kept from UTH is Jason telling Bruce hard truths. I'd love to get a mini or something with the gun/killing issue explored more with just the two of them.

    I really don't think anyone that complains about things that are clearly explained in the books--or no one cares about like the bat family--reads these series. Much like that article outlining Starfires' new series didn't know Roy is an alcoholic or that Jason and him use sarcasm.

    Hell Lobdell referenced PREVIOUS canon in his stories that many of the current writers wouldn't think to use. He has Jason think positively of Harvey Bullock who was friends with him Pre-Crisis. Alludes to For the Man who Has Everything with Jason saving Supermans' life. Isabel being the freaking flight attendant from DITF !

    Exactly, Tynion does more damage to these characters and even if Lobdell didn't reveal the editorial issues I'd know. He's mention ideas that kept getting scrapped by crossovers and it reads that way too.

    Right. His last issue managed to make everything more insulting. Tynions' bias was so obvious, he has Jason acting like a push over and Roy acting like he's the bat kid. I love Roy but he should not be single handedly taking out the whole league.