Monday, November 23, 2015

The Middle Children

One of the few things most bat writers hooked on to from RHATO is Jason Todd and Tim Drakes' closeness. Since it looks like we're getting a repeat of DOTF with these two facing off again in a forced death match I thought it might be a good idea to talk about them.

When we first learned of their friendly interaction it was revealed that the two had been meeting to exchange information. This was strictly a business meeting until Tim offered to share his breakfast with Jason. Their relationship was altered because of this offer and Jasons' reluctant acceptance. We learned that Jason did truly feel sorry for his past actions against Tim and Tim understood not only the trauma Jason went through but the fact no one else in their family did.

This act of kindness, maturity and understanding had a profound effect on Jason. He goes against his desire of leaving Gotham and suspicions of being lured into a trap to help out simply because Tim asks him to join in. (*1) When Damian invites them all to threaten them Jasons' more relaxed around Tim while he's annoyed and distrustful of the other two.

Later on they meet during the DOTF tie in crossover. (#2) Each gets some one on one time with Joker before he brings them together. Jasons' encounter is far more personal while Tim basically gets a mind game (sorta) and taunting. Joker claims Jason is his "favorite" and his fixation is more intense which is clear because of the lengths he goes to while Tim barely has anything personalized. While Jasons' is done better both have what I felt were creepier moments than the main Death Of The Family story.

Joker stalks Jason while he's out with his girlfriend interrupting some very personal time. You can't help wondering how much he witnessed. I mean he had to put together what intimate moment was taking place and just him knowing makes me uncomfortable. Then with Tim we have Joker changing him into his Robin costume and back into his Red Robin suit. Like the moment with Jason and Isabel nothing's really made out of this but thinking it is horrifying. It's invasive and disturbing without anyone having to tell you this is messed up.

Joker switched clothes to make a point to Tim and ensures Jason wears a helmet. (*3) All of Jokers other meetings have just been him and one other character yet he chooses to bring them together. Why? We know it's because they share the same writer (although he had Fabian N. helping him out for TT), storywise? Well he says Jason was his greatest masterpiece which Tim helped ruin by becoming Batmans' next partner. Does Joker think there's resentment there that will come to the surface if he forces them to fight? Maybe. He might also be aware of their growing bond since we later learn he does know everything. Somehow he even knew where the Outlaws island was which adds another creepy level to everything since he knows who Bruce is. Joker does note that Jasons' return to life hardly seems worth it with all the rejection and loneliness he's received since coming back. Does he think Tim might give him a measurement of acceptance within the family?

What many people found odd was Tims' thoughts about Jason being the closest thing he has to a brother. Which is weird considering previous canon had him pretty close to Dick and he's just getting to know Jason. Personally I like to think it has to do with Dick currently being closer to Damian, Tim seeming to willingly estrange himself from the family and feeling he has more common ground with Jason. Lobdell pretty much said the last in an interview saying (paraphrasing) that Dick was the golden child while Damian was the blood kin making them the odd men out. The two do get put together and shown as pretty close ever since.

They have apparently kept in touch and seem to prefer each other's company over other members of the family. I've recently heard some fan talk of how they both act like typical middle children. Their mistreated, mostly Jason although Tim seems to be forgotten rather than treated poorly. Jason is the most vocal and while Tim does speak his mind it's not as forward as Jason. Sometimes he stews for awhile before saying anything. Which makes their relationship make sense because their not just the only ones that get each other their the only ones making the effort.

It's kind of interesting to see how they differ and what similarities they share. Even Joker seemed to notice this enough to to have them facing each other like a human ying yang. Jason was chosen to be Robin while Tim sought it out. Both decided to travel away from Gotham and even helped each other out on their new paths with the information they shared. Tim decided to form a team Jason resisted the idea. Jason despite his tough guy persona is the more emotional of the two while Tim is more logical. That doesn't mean neither can be the other but in comparison of the other it's true. Look how they handle Bruce flipping out over Damians' death.

Tim doesn't want to be around Bruce since he was still mad at him but he still stops him from plotting to make Damian into a Frankenstein monster. After the confrontation he's feeling bad for upsetting Bruce sure but he doesn't let his own anger take over. He fixes Bruces' mess by reattaching Frankenstein parts together. Jason starts off thankful for what Bruce has done for him and respectful of his grief. He tries to be understanding even if he knows he can't fully trust Bruce quite yet. Once he realizes Bruces' betrayal and selfishness his impulse is to fight him. UTH was a logical planning  but it revolved around his emotional need to find out if he mattered.

Grayson has Dick confront the two together which was likely to save space in the comic. From a meta standpoint it left me wondering why Dick would do this. Together their a united front against him unless he thought they'd balance each other out and be more likely to stay to hear him out. I could see this being more in the hopes of keeping Jason around since they seem to have the weakest relationship out of the three. Tim would be more likely to hear the explanation at least.

When Dick has his say Jason reacts by punching him and struggles to keep his emotions at bay verbally revealing more than he wants to. Tim doesn't restrain him and doesn't appear to be the least bit surprised. He's utterly unfazed and seems to think Dick deserves it. Tim states the facts of how hypocritical Dick is when he condemned Bruce in DOTF and betrayed their trust in a similar manner. When the time comes to enact Dick's plan their working together instead of with their companions like Damian is.

*1 Grayson #12 has an image with Tim, Dick and Jason fighting together against the owls. This doesn't make sense if you read the books during this time. Dick was busy with his great grandfather, Tim was only briefly shown and Jason only stopped one Talon/Mr. Freeze before leaving the city with his friends. Batgirl told him to go and Dick wasn't too nice to Jason around this time. Not to mention Jason learned the Talons came back from the dead and had more sympathy for them so I don't think he'd have fun like Dick's smile suggests he is.

*2 Fabian Niceza wrote the TT part of the DOTF crossover. He has stated prior to the relaunch that he's not a fan of Jason but he has experience writing anti-heroes. He knows how to make them more sympathetic. While he has Tim saying he sees Jason as a brother, the person he feels closest to in the family and how there's no one else he'd rather fight with...the bias against Jason does slip in. Tim is noticeably harsher in his narrative towards Jason.

*3 Yet he makes sure it's not the helmet he tampered with.

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