He’s Known As Batman, With Robin The Boy Wonder By His Side…

I’m at a disadvantage with this post, because even though I am in the US at the moment, my comic shop isn’t. So everything I am writing right now could be completely contradicted by today’s issue of Batman, and I won’t know for a week or so…
One aspect of Batman’s life that has been left out of Morrison’s “Everything really happened” take on Batman is Jason Todd. Unless I’m forgetting a brief appearance in one of the Resurrection Of Ra’s Al-Ghul crossovers, there has been no mention of Jason Todd in Morrison’s run on the title at all.
Except… there sort of has…

You see, there are three ‘Jason Todds’ in Batman, and have been for a few years now.
One is the character that is currently running around with no narrative purpose, whose very existence in one panel of a comic requires, out of necessity, the whole comic to be perverted into a rationalisation of the most pointless returns from the dead in comic history, and who has no fixed characterisation. This character is an utterly pointless waste of ink, and an example of the artistic bankruptcy of a superhero comics medium that is obsessed with ‘things being like they were when I was 12, but more badass’.

The second is the character that existed from 1988 to 2005, and is still what most comics fans think of first when they think ‘Jason Todd’. The martyr. Good soldier. He Died So That Others Might Live. Young boy at the height of his powers, struck down by the Joker. An illustration of what happens when Batman Goes Too Far and Lets Others Get Hurt. A character that was more interesting in death than he is now in life, Jasonthegoodsoldier was still, unfortunately, just a symbol for everything that was wrong with Batman comics from the moment Dark Knight issue 1 came out…

But there used to be another Jason Todd. One that we in the Silent 73 remember…

This Jason Todd was, as bobsy put it, “a Robin for the burgeoning Dark Age – troubled, angry, rebellious and a natural brawler”. While his intentions were usually good, he was brattish, spoiled, a criminal before becoming Robin (at least in the post-Crisis retconned origin of the character). He would even kill when he thought it necessary for the greater good.

In short, wasn’t he just a slightly more mature Damien?

While fans have generally disliked the character of Damien, the crucial issue 666 (the most important issue so far of Morrison’s run on Batman, which I’m still praying will continue post-Battle For The Cowl, as Rich Johnston suggests it will) shows the same character traits, but in a far more disciplined, resourceful adult Damien:

I spent my first three years as Batman making the job easy for myself. Turning the city itself into a weapon. The victory is in the preparation…I knew I’d never be as good as my dad or Dick Grayson, but I promised I wouldn’t leave Gotham without a Batman. So I specialised in cheating.

Morrison essentially has taken the character of Jason Todd out of the 80s comics and brought him back under a pseudonym. Making him Batman’s biological son is just icing on the cake. Remember, Jason Todd (pre-Crisis) was the son (adoptive, but also, it was hinted, biological), of Nocturna, a villain who had a love-hate relationship with both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Just like Damian with Talia…

Morrison has, intentionally or otherwise, spotted that Batman really needs a Jason Todd figure. Tim Drake is an adequate Robin, but he’d make a lousy Batman – Batman needs an heir as conflicted as himself who will ‘carry on the fight’ when Batman is gone, and he needs a sidekick who will argue with him to provide some kind of narrative tension.

So he’s done the ultimate Silent 73 trick – he’s made it so Jason never died. He’s just called Damien, but otherwise he’s the same character, with the same narrative purpose. So bringing in Jason thedeadmartyr goodsoldiergoodsoldier or the new, pointless version would just confuse matters. He’s got a character who serves the same narrative purpose for which the original was created, and who could be a fascinating source of future Batman stories were it not for the fact that (as with so many of Morrison’s other ideas) no-one else seems to get the point of the character.

Tomorrow – more on this whole FinalRIPsis storyplex, if I can get to the computer.

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6 Responses to He’s Known As Batman, With Robin The Boy Wonder By His Side…

  1. bobsy says:

    Outstanding work. Good soldier.

  2. Zom says:

    Yeah, that’s just brilliant, Andrew

  3. Pingback: When A Pillock Meets A Mindless One, Comin’ Through The Rye…Part II « A Trout In The Milk

  4. Hopefully we can find more throughout the following number of weeks.

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