Saturday, May 27, 2017

Joker set him up?

As usual I can't help but exam text barely mentioned in a comic. It's my curse.

Jason has said Joker set him up twice although canon has changed since the first time. Having Joker set Jason up wouldn't have worked in old post-crisis canon and I'm a little confused how it works now. Just to avoid more confusion if Joker's claim of "making" Jason into Robin happened or not we'll just assume it's not true. We do know that Joker knows the ID's of the bat family only they (or maybe just Bruce?) weren't aware of that until Snyder's reveal.

So wouldn't Jason suspect Joker knew if he was set up? Especially if it involved his birth mother and presumably luring him to a location? Did he figure it out after the fact he discovered Joker did know their IDs?

DITF wasn't perfect, not by any means, and it desperately needs an update. It had too many coincidences linking Batman's mission that just so happened to connect with Jason's trip to find his mom. Joker didn't even know they were around until Shelia betrayed Jason.

In RHATO #0 VOL. 1 the mother was Catherine which raises the question why she was in another country. Shelia Haywood was a doctor acting as a relief worker so how would Catherine, an addict with little to no money, get there? Why did she go there? This probably means Catherine abandoned Jason too unless she believed he was dead. Making the mom Jason dies for Catherine might have happened to simplify the story. Whether it works is still up in the air.

During Damian attacking the previous Robins he mentions Jason's mom betraying Jason. Was this still true with Catherine? Tomasi did have change the script for the Tim encounter in the same arc. Artwork showed it originally had Damian calling out Tim for trying to arrange Captain Boomerangs' death. So maybe the mom betrayal still might be consistent. It should be noted though that Lobdell did retcon another appearance Jason had in the Tomasi series. The location of Jason's death and claiming he's only returned there once before to save Roy.

RHATO #9 VOL. 2 has Jason recalling being set up and he mentions a "birth mother." If Catherine was the mother in question he would have just called her mother. The wording indicates it's back to Shelia, someone else or he was still trying to find out. Whether Shelia was involved or Joker just tricked Jason into believing his mom was in the building we don't know. The #0 issue mentions a photo being sent into the bat computer which would require major hacking skills and knowing it would be Jason who was alone in the cave.

It'd be interesting to see the lengths Joker went to kill Robin but this raises all sorts of questions. I've heard about a claim that Lobdell still has Catherine as Jason's mother although I'm not sure if it's correct since the person then brought up Nocturna as a potential mother. The way it's phrased leads me to believe the Nocturna bit was more of a hope than an either or situation. The person in question claimed they hadn't heard any updated information in some time. Luck might still play a part with Joker planning everything as he'd have to have Batman a.) In the dark about Jason's mom long enough for Jason to run away (*1) and/or b.) Split the two up long enough to murder Robin.

There's questions I'd love to see answered and the story has potential. Whoever the mother is it makes for an emotional story if she's involved. I'm not sure which version of Joker's knowledge would suit the story better. If he knows and their not aware of it he has an advantage they couldn't prepare for. Bruce's arrogance of believing Joker didn't know (as shown under Snyder) makes it even more tragic. If luck was on Joker's side it still has shades of being a little too convenient like it originally does. It does however fit Joker's mind frame of his dark humor to have the events fall into place which led to his greatest victory over Batman.

*1 Which was the case in the original story.


  1. RHATO 0 actually showed Joker escaping with an unconscious Catherine on the backup, explaining how is that she ended up living in Qurac.

    Tomasi's mention of Jason being betrayed is most likely retconned by now so I wouldn't give it a lot of thought about it.

    Jason specifically saying "Birth Mother" is odd but I'd chalk it that to Lobdell wanting to give some lip service to the old origin. Even if the scene seen on this newest issue is an hallucination, the setting is consistent to the way it has been depicted over RHATO 0 and Secret Origins 5 (Secret Origins even shows Catherine tied up in a similar way to the shadow seen on RHATO 10) Plus, I doubt Jason would be so easy to take responsibility over the events if Sheila would be still a factor.

  2. Didn't Lobdell say that we don't know if Joker's version of the events happened or not? That's why I said I was just going to assume it wasn't true in this write up. Having Joker arrange everything brings up more questions.

    I still thought it was worth noting even though Tomasi has had his work either retconned or ignored by other writers. Whether or not the mom betrayed Jason is still up in the air. Jason told Isabel he never had an innocent woman die on him. Which sounds like the mom either wasn't in the building or did betray him.

    It's just not a phrase you use unless you have another mom. Why confuse readers to give lip service to something some might not be aware of? Lobdell brought back the tire theft and Ma Gunn so why wouldn't he bring up the birth mom plot? I don't think that necessarily means it's Catherine. Jason was also hallucinating things that didn't happen like shooting Joker.

    Why wouldn't Jason be taking the blame? It wasn't his fault either way. He originally took the blame. In Deadman: Dead Again #2 for example ghost Jason says he's takes responsibility for his death.

    Deadman/Boston Brand: Where were you ten minutes ago, chump? What the hell were you thinking, letting Robin take on the Joker alone? I'd like to inhabit you and make you slug yourself over the head with a --

    Jason Todd: No -- it's not his fault! I screwed up. I disobeyed his orders... went out on my own.

    Victim blaming is a huge thing for Jason, the family has blamed him and he's taken the burden upon himself. At least for Jason it makes sense as he already has low self esteem and probably has survivors guilt. In the original version he still tried to save Shelia and she still died.

  3. Lobdell wrote the scene ambiguously enough to let the reader get their own conclusions about the issue so I see no reason to accept Joker arranged for Catherine to arrive on Qurac some way or another.

    Remember that Catherine survived the events of DITF according to Lobdell so yes, Jason was correct with his statement about no innocent woman dying on his watch.

    Because Lobdell always tries to acknowledge the work other writers regardless if it fits his own stories like it was with the mention of Red Bird and Wingman on RHATO v1. At the same time, he doesn't retcon his own work even if it would seem the opposite at first glance -according to him Jason still stole from Leslie for example.

    You're citing a story writing after the fact where editorial had changed things to clean Bruce from any responsibility over Jason's death. The original DITF is framed in such a way that if someone is to blame, is Bruce who put catching Joker over helping Jason. Besides, Jason's tendency to hold a grudge is really well known. So I doubt he would be so easy to forgive Sheila's betrayal.

    The way Lobdell wrote Jason on the most recent issue is less about victim blaming and more about Jason owning the fact he isolated himself from everyone for no good reason, pointing to very different context on which Sheila doesn't work. That said, I doubt Lobdell will return to that and clarify things regarding Jason's mother. Not anytime soon at least.

  4. If it's up to the reader and won't be confirmed either way then I don't believe Joker "made" Jason Robin. With the tire plot it looks more like luck that Jason met Batman anyway. The stealing from Leslie plot would still change somewhat since the tire story is their first meeting.

    Wasn't that supposed to be when Lobdell had the sister plot that he later decided not to do? Jason has kept referring to Catherine as someone that died from an OD. I think the #0 issue was the only one that had her alive after the fact. She hasn't been mentioned as being alive since that issue. In the first issue of RHATO Jason says she was dead.

    Maybe but Lobdell isn't Morrison. He doesn't try to wedge things in that make no sense. He's stated Jason has black hair and retconned the Tomasi issue where Bruce brought him to his death site. Sure Lobdell tries to fit in others canon but that doesn't mean he always does.

    Lobdell retconned things with Crux being drugged and unknown to Arkham. Later on he was alert and they knew his real name but didn't know the Crux name.

    I know but that's still part of Jason's character. He has low self esteem and regrets his actions. I'm not saying he forgives her betrayal but it's also canon that in DITF he tried to save her. Sheila still mattered to him on some level. From his point of view he wasn't good enough. He didn't see the betrayal coming because it was one of the few times he let his guard down.

    Jason let go of his grudge against Tim. He's shown more willingness to compromise with the family than they show him. The Jason Lobdell writes either attempts to ignore the past or overcome it. The only one he truly has a grudge with at this point is Joker. It's entirely possible that he doesn't want to deal with it, he has parent issues after all.

    Except Jason wasn't really trying to isolate himself back then as his flashback with Roy showed. He just never got the chance. This was more like Jason's dream after his face was burned when he realized how much he cared for his friends. Robin Jason never had enough time to get friends. His mind is on why he's even there which is for a friend. Relating his death to that make sense.

    I'm just saying it's possible and currently there isn't enough evidence to say it can only be Catherine. The birth mother bit especially makes me question this.

    1. Amendment: in the first issue of RHATO Rebirth Jason says his mom was dead.

    2. I'm not saying that Joker created Jason, I'm saying that since the only reason Catherine was on the middle east (whether is Qurac or Ethiopia) was done by the demands of the plot with no further thought on the reasons behind it. So, assuming it was the Joker who arranged Catherine's stay outside Gotham is the best explanation available so far.

      Jason saying his mother was dead can also be chalked to narrative demands to keep simple the retelling of Jason's origin. I mean technically, Jason should say "My mother IS dead" given the chain of events that led to Jason's own demise.

      True, but so far the only thing Lobdell has retconned is Tomasi's issues. RH/A still referenced Tynion's run at least twice, the aforementioned stuff with Batman inc and Lobdell's return to RHATO used Pfeifer's issues as basis.

      As for Crux, I don't think is that much of a retcon since is directly acknowledged that Crux did spend the start of his residence on Arkham heavily drugged and it was only when he got treatment that they took off the drugs.

      The reason I don't buy Jason forgiving Sheila and assuming her betrayal as his own fault is the grudge he held against Bruce for so long over what he perceived as a failure on Bruce's part. It simply doesn't mesh. Although truly this is mostly due Sheila becoming a non factor for the writers after being brought back as the Red Hood.

      Jason did drove away Roy going by the way he acted around him at the start of RHATO and since we don't know at detail their past as sidekicks is pretty much impossible to say if they were close. On the other hand, Jason admitted to driving away people who wanted to reach at him multiple times, like when it was with Gabby or the fact he didn't had any real friends until the Outlaws.

      Is certainly possible but I think Sheila is an unnecessary complication to consider and one that doesn't really adds much to Jason's backstory.

  5. It might be the best explanation for Catherine but it also fits into the Joker POV narrative. For him to fake her death, keep her living there, etc. means it would have to be true on some level. It also makes me question how much she would be involved.

    Catherine wouldn't question being in Africa and not knowing where her son was? Was she working with Joker to get another fix? She seemed happy in that picture Jason saw.

    Wouldn't that mean his mom betrayed him if he considers her dead to him? During the drug arc in the first RHATO Jason gets rid of the Venom and reminds Roy he was there when his mom passed. Connecting drug use to her death. Also Jason refers to himself as an orphan in present day when talking about meeting Black Mask.

    There are issues and events Lobdell doesn't really mention at all like the Batman/Superman Annual. Some things he doesn't need to retcon as other writers are doing it. Some are chipping away the Tynion run by ignoring his version of the characters like Bronze Tiger and Cheshire. Lobdell did retcon Tynion's version of the first meeting between Jason and Roy. His version ends up being their real first meeting at the series end.

    The original intention was for Jason to have Arkham keep Crux in a drugged coma. He tells them directly that: "The, um--patient needs to be, um, heavily sedated at all times." I recall Lobdell also commenting on what a shocking thing it was and others online saying Batman did the same thing to Ra's. I got the impression this would have led to a different story.

    Jason wasn't mad that Bruce didn't save him though. Not even over the fact Bruce made some huge blunders previously. He was mad that Bruce didn't kill the Joker and prove Jason mattered to him. Jason literally just met Sheila and jump to conclusions about her. The bond was no where near as deep as the one with Bruce.

    Lobdell has been the only writer to touch on anything about Jason's family or life outside the bat family. No one even bothered to explain anything about Willis outside what Lobdell and Collins wrote. There's a lot of potential and whether he uses Shelia or not I don't think he'd use it all at once.

    That was after Jason became Red Hood and if he truly wanted Roy gone he could have easily avoided him. Even in the limo Jason knew he cared about them. The impression I got was Roy soon became an addict and--if it's still canon--Jason still tried to be there for him. Then he died soon after.

    None of those times seem like he drove anyone away. Jason still protected Gabby and she was eager to see him again. You don't just hug people you used to know if there wasn't a bond of some kind. Jason isn't always a reliable narrator when it comes to himself.

    I think it's easier to explain than making Catherine fit. The possibility of Sheila's family for example can bring story potential. What if she wasn't his real birth mother and just tried to con him? Would he want to find his real mother?