Monday, April 18, 2016

Exploring what a Resurrection Means

A characters dies and comes back to life usually with very little development happening from the actual death. Most of the time characters--including the one who died--treat it like an unexpected vacation with very little consequence. But what if the death and resurrection are given weight and importance? What if their actually explored?

The lazy version has happened a lot and more recently with most of the bat family. Dick Grayson "died" (*1) and while this launched a new series it didn't seem to affect much in other titles. Not even Damian reacted to it much before Dick revealed himself to the family. Bruces' "death" (*2) mostly affected Alfred who made things worse for the others by keeping them from Bruce. I'm not sure if Bruce himself was deeply affected by dying, I think it was implied he wouldn't remember it when they "rebooted" his mind?

Damian died but his death lacked a lot of impact in other titles and outside Batman and Robin Bruce seemed to be handling it okay. As for Damian himself well I'm just getting into where I left off in the trade for Robin Son of Batman. So far it's only been implied in a dream that Damian remembers what happened after he died and he might have gone to hell. As a result he wants to redeem himself for his past actions. Since DC didn't keep Damian dead long there's no way they could have made his death have the impact Jasons' did since they didn't have 20 years of stories to back it up.

Even with Jason himself there hasn't been much written about his death affecting him. Obviously it did but Winick wanted to write more about the relationships than focusing on the actual death. Now there are two factors that haven't been dealt with much in regards to Jason Todds' resurrection. HOW/WHY he returned and how he feels about it. Tynion tried to do the former by implying Talia was the one to bring Jason back to life just to simplify it. This ignores what Lobdell wrote in his second issue and the reasons didn't make sense. (*3) It's been shown in text and shown that the Lazarus Pit isn't what brought him back in this canon. (*4)

Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 VOL. 1

Talia Al Ghul: He was recently raised from the dead, for reasons we may never know. His body was fine, but his soul was absent until--

Ducra: Until you tossed him into the Lazarus Pit. I can smell it on him. I am certain that went over real well with your father.

Talia Al Ghul: He was surprisingly supportive of my choice.

What this tells us: That Jason was brought back for reasons the Al Ghuls don't understand and Ra's was okay with him using the pit. Something that's different from Winicks' take. Unlike the head trauma Jason suffered pre-Flashpoint his soul was apparently absent. Jason himself isn't aware of what happened during this time.

Jason Todd: When I came back to life as little more than a zombie...until Talia Al Ghul tossed me into the Lazarus Pit?

What this tells us: During this part Jason was wondering where his life really began believing it was with the All Caste. But this particular line suggests he wasn't truly him until the pit.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #0 VOL.1

Jason Todd: I can't remember what happened between my death--and...afterwards...just that it started over in something called, appropriately, a Lazarus Pit.

What this tells us: Talia mentioned Jasons' soul being absent (we haven't learned how she knew this) and as it's shown in Secret Origins #5 he and hinted at in RHATO #2 VOL. 1 he has no consciousness between his return and going into the pit.

So far Lobdell has only showed hints of how Jason feels about his resurrection:

Red Hood and the Outlaws #36 VOL 1

Jason Todd: It feels like I am alone. Completely. Gloriously. Finally alone. I haven't been this alone since I was in my grave. God help me--I never want it to end. That's how it feels any way. The truth is--since this injection of Venom--my heart rate has risen above 85. It's like...any change that took place in my body? It happened on a molecular level. I know my body. That's what happens when you die and come back again.

What this tells us: Lobdell has talked about Jason feeling conflicted on wanting to be alone and desiring companionship in interviews. This section does make me wonder how much Jason is remembering what happened after he died. If he is actually relating (recalling?) being alone to feeling at peace and/or if he feels uncomfortable around others because he misses that feeling. It's also intriguing to note he canonly is more aware of his body than most. Which might explain some of the things he's done in this title that other writers haven't used in other titles. (*5)

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 Futures End

Jason Todd: I know first hand what its like to die. It sucks. Hard. But you know what sucks even harder? Being tossed in a Lazarus Pit and brought back kicking and screaming from heaven.

What this tells us: Even though this is basically a What If/Elseworlds story Jasons' past is supposed to remain the same. I don't think this ignores what was written before as Jason admitted he didn't remember being more than a "zombie" before the pit. If Talia was correct about him missing his soul then it makes sense as that was also his consciousness. Yet Jason also mentions being dragged against his will from heaven. Did he remember more?

Secret Origins #5

Jason Todd: It hurts. The pain is glorious. It tells me I'm still alive.

What this tells us: Jason did say being brought back via the pit sucked worse than dying. Does he mean it hurts physically or does it have to do with bringing his soul back against his will? The word glorious is curiously repeated this time to mention the pain informing Jason he's alive. Before it was used to mention feeling alone and linking it to his death. A conflict between wanting to be alive and dead perhaps?

Jason Todd: She recoils. Part of her is afraid of me. Good. I'n a little afraid too.

What this tells us: Here he's mentioning Talia stopping herself from touching his shoulder after he steps out of the pit. This is actually a big deal since Talia has been around her father using the pit to come back to life and this freaks her out. Why? In this issue we learn that she was present when he clawed his way out of his grave. We don't know how she knew to be there but she wasn't surprised, yet she still has this reaction. Something about this is off to her. Jason admits he's scared too although he has more of a reason to be upset since he's the one being brought back. Still there's a feeling that something else is unsettling them.

I'm looking forward to Jasons' concerns over his resurrection being brought back in the new Red Hood and the Outlaws series. There's a story that Lobdell is slowly building that  intrigues me and makes Jasons' death matter. Not as a warning to others as it was prior to him being brought back. But to his character and the growth he's going through. As a result it makes the other deaths/resurrections seem even more superficial.

*1 It counts because his heart stopped for awhile.

*2 After Endgame and likewise didn't last long.

*3 The whole thing hinged on Talia thinking Jason would make the perfect heir. Which doesn't make sense as she's always been interested in Bruce and/or Damian being the heir and never tried to get Jason to take on a role within the LOA. It also ignores a HUGE plot detail of Lobdells' that the Untitled couldn't hurt anyone without dealing with the All Caste, who they feared. Or Jason being the only student they had in a 100 plus years with Talia suddenly being a student.

*4 The Lazarus Pit being used to bring Jason back makes even less sense as Tynion also made it the source of the power the Untitled use. The Well Of Sins (which is supposed to have filled them with pure evil) runs off into the other pits. This raises questions that are never answered.

*5 It doesn't explain everything. Some are explained by way of training although others like being able to see things others can't hasn't been. For all we know it could be something else.


  1. I am beginning to think that dying is really just some weird initiation that most heroes... and not a few villains have to go through, to prove hoe Really dedicated they are.

  2. A lot more in preboot but its nice when writers remember death should be treated with some weight.

  3. Stuff like this is what I love about your blog. I love how you get so philosophical about it.

  4. I can't help it, I love all of the details that can be told in comics. It's a lot of fun to think about it.