Robin II

Jason Todd
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Jason Todd grew up in crime-ridden Gotham City. After his father left Jason and his mother, Catherine Todd became ill. Jason took care of Catherine until she died, and remained in the same rundown apartment, living off his wits and knowledge of the streets. One day while in Crime Alley, Jason literally ran into the Batman. He was caught in the act of stealing the Batmobile's wheels, which the Caped Crusader found amusing but not beyond reprimand. Batman had Jason put into what he thought was a school for wayward boys. In reality, Ma Gunn's School for Boys taught boys how to be criminals. With Jason's help, Batman brought Gunn and her students to justice.

Batman had become acutely aware of the void created in his life since Dick Grayson had moved out. He was so impressed with Jason's performance that he offered to let Jason move into Wayne Manor and become the new Robin. Jason eagerly accepted. After six months of physical and mental training, the second Robin was born.

Later, Jason discovered that Two-Face had killed his father, Willis Todd, who was in the villain's employ. The Dynamic Duo eventually captured Two-Face and put him back in Arkham. Jason worked with the Teen Titans a couple of times, once in order to rescue Nightwing from Zandia. He was also involved in the Crisis, on Infinite Earths.

While Jason soon proved to be one of Batman's most enthusiastic students, he was also the most troubled. Brash and impulsive, Jason's former life on the streets had left him with an ambiguous sense of right and wrong. This often placed Jason in opposition to the values his mentor was trying to teach him. The most dramatic of these moral clashes happened when Jason tracked down Felipe Garzonasa, a foreign national who had raped a young woman and later drove her to suicide. Moments after Jason arrived, Garzonas plunged to his death from his apartment balcony. While the truth is still unknown, there is a distinct possibility that Jason pushed Felipe off the balcony, thereby breaking Batman's strict code against ever taking a life.

Although an effective hero, the second Robin became increasingly moody, reckless and even violent. After consulting with Alfred, Batman decided to pull Jason off active duty. While kicking around his old stomping grounds, Jason discovered that Catherine Todd was not his real mother. He went in search of his true heritage and found it in Sheila Haywood.

Using the extensive resources of the Batcave, Jason was able to track his mother to Ethiopia. But shortly after their reunion, he was surprised by and savagely beaten almost to death by Batman's arch-foe the Joker, who had been blackmailing Jason's mother. The Joker then left Jason and his mother bound inside a warehouse filled with explosives. Though Jason tried to disable the bomb, mother and son perished together in the blast.

Finding Jason's body, Batman was overcome with grief and thoughts of vengeance. He was eventually able to get past this with the aid of Superman, Nightwing, and the newest Robin, Tim Drake.

After the death of Jason Todd, Nightwing decided that it would be best if young Danny Chase left the group. Danny, of course, did not take the news well and stormed out in a huff.


In combat, Jason uses his knowledge of acrobatics to keep himself out of trouble; much like Dick Grayson had as Robin. But this second Robin has proven himself much more ruthless.

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The so-called "Crisis on Infinite Earths" caused time blips that retroactively changed reality. To clarify, below is an entry that tells the original origin story of the character in question.

Jason Todd's Original Origin


First Appearance: (as Jason) BATMAN #357
First Appearance: (as Robin) DETECTIVE COMICS #526

History:

Jason Todd was the son of Joseph and Trina Todd, star acrobats of the Hill Circus. When Killer Croc extorted circus for "protection" money, Batman investigated the situation and was wounded in the process. Trina accidentily discovered Batman's identity while a guest at Wayne Manor. She and her husband offered their aid in capturing Croc, ending his threat to the circus. Batman reluctantly agreed and the duo joined the Caped Crusader and Robin (Dick Grayson) on the case. Catastrophe soon followed when the Todds gave their lives in the battle against Croc at the Gotham Zoo Reptile House. Their young son, Jason, upon seeing their bodies, told Batman he wanted to avenge them.

In recent times, Batman was encouraged by Robin to open himself up to the needs of people, so he agreed to take Jason in as he new ward. Shortly thereafter. Robin became Nightwing and turned the mantle of Boy Wonder over to Jason.

Jason has trained extensively with Batman, but still grieves for his parents. For a time he saw Nocturna as a mother figure, but with her apparently dead, Jason has accepted Bruce Wayne as his true parent.

A first-class athlete, having been trained by his parents. He is a good hand-to-hand combatant and is constantly learning under the Batman's tutelage. His reasoning and detective skills are weak and are being concentrated upon, but he shows extreme promise.

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Jason Todd Chronology


The Idea

As an executive, Dick Giordano continued to tended to adopt a laissez-faire attitude. "I worked contribute to the comics, but primarily by "getting with really talented people," he said. "They made people to work for DC who could do the work a my job easy and they made me look good." The little better." In this capacity, he did his bit for Bat-most significant event of his administration was the man by arranging for writer-artist Frank Miller to introduction of a new Robin, Jason Todd, in Batman #357(March 1983). Dick Grayson was pretty much out of the picture by then, working under the name Nightwing as leader of the Teen Titans. Once he was gone for good, however, the disadvantages of having Batman operate without a sidekick to talk to became apparent again. Enter Jason Todd, whose circus performer parents were killed by criminals in a bit of exposition shamelessly reminiscent of 1940.

George Perez recalls: "It wasn't until Gerry Conway said that he had no intentions of using Robin that we were given carte blanche. Then, there was talk that they wanted to give Batman a new kid sidekick, in order to bring back the father image of the character. I was called into a meeting, Doug Moench, Marv Wolfman, Len Web, myself, and Dick Giordano all sat down and talked about the new sidekick.

The one thing we suggested, but never thought we'd get, was to simply make Jason Todd become Robin. Give him the costume, make him the new Robin and just let Dick Grayson become someone else. We didn't think they would really accept that; [laughs] at least, not readily, because Dick Grayson had been Robin for almost 43 years! Dick Giordano said 'Let's go with it!' Since Dick Grayson has been established as being 19, and Batman has been established as 29 (the way Superman and all the other male characters are). suddenly the man-boy relationships between men 29 and 19 did not work; they were two men.

"They wanted to bring back the old formula. Doug was anxious to try the idea of the original Batman and Robin team again. The only suggestion I had was to establish Jason Todd as a blonde or a redhead; obviously, they've written their way around that [laughs]! But they gave up, they said okay."

The New Robin

When Jason Todd, introduced some months before, found his own circus-acrobat parents murdered by the freakish Killer Croc in 1983's Detective Comics #526, Dick spoke to his mentor of adopting the boy; Bruce Wayne instead took Jason in himself and trained him as a new crimefighting partner. The dilemma of what to call him in costume was solved when, visiting the Batcave in Batman #368, Dick told Bruce of his decision to finally relinquish his youthful identity and bequeath it to Jason. It was a move carefully orchestrated by Doug Moench, writer of both Batman & Detective, and Marv Wolfman & George Perez, the writer/artist pair who had revived the Teen Titans in 1980 to great success and sought to literally bring Dick Grayson out from the shadow of his mentor.

The Teen Titans. In 1983, it was decreed that Robin should grow up and assume a crime-fighting identity of his own - become his own man, as befitted the leader of the mighty Titans. He left Batman's world to assume the name, costume, and persona of Nightwing. Gerry Conway and Don Newton replaced him with a second Robin, Jason Todd, whose biography was virtually identical to that of Dick Grayson. Why not? Gerry and Don were not trying to innovate, they were simply filling a void. The assignment they were given was simple: Provide another Robin. Quickly and with as little fuss as possible.

"Jason is seeing the things that Batman sees through fresh eyes, so I can use that point-of-view to give everything to the readers in a fresh light. For instance, every time Robin fights a classic foe, it's the first time for him, and gives a plausible means of providing a background on the character without the old standby of ‘hold on, here's a flashback, now back to our story - I have a natural dramatic way to cover that, having Jason do research in the Batcave and such, It won't work forever, but it's kind of nice. 'I would like him to fill Dick Grayson's function even more than Dick did. Back in the '40s when the sidekick character of Robin was first introduced, the style of the comics did not deal too much with the details of what it's like for a kid doing these kinds of things. I'd like to show in detail his learning process, the normal problems of adolescence that Jason goes through that are compounded by the extraordinary life that he leads."

The New Jason Todd

Jason Todd's origin was completely revised as of 1987's Batman #408, turning him into a surly street urchin who got himself killed the following year in the infamous Batman #427 thanks to a well-placed bomb and a grisly call-in poll in which readers voted for his demise. Jason's death had been foreshadowed somewhat in Frank Miller's out-of-continuity 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight - which reimagined Robin in the form of Carrie Kelley, a Girl Wonder who helped an aging Batman find his spirit again.

Dennis O'Neil recalls the change: "In 1986, Max Allan Collins inherited the Batman writing assignment and told his editor he had an idea for an improved Jason Todd. Make him a street kid, Collins said. Make his parents criminals. Have him and Batman on opposite sides at first. Sounded fine to the editor and, since DC was in the middle of a vast, company-wide overhaul of storylines anyway, Collins was told to go ahead. I was the editor; I did the telling. And I'd do it again, today. Collins's Robin was dramatic, did have story potential. But readers didn't take to him. I don't know now, and will probably never know why. Jason was accepted as long as he was a Dick Grayson clone, but when he acquired a distinct and, Collins and I still believe, more interesting backstory, their affection cooled. Maybe we - me and the writers who followed Collins - should have worked harder at making Jason likeable. Or maybe, I guessed, on some subconscious level our most loyal readers felt Jason was a usurper. For whatever reason, Jason was not the favorite Dick had been. He wasn't hated, exactly, but he wasn't loved, either."

In Comics Scene #1 [1987], Dennis O'Neil explains: "For all practical purposes, the stories we're working on now are present time. Jason Todd is in 1987. In 1987, Jason steals the tires off the Batmobile. And Batman decides, 'This kid is going to end up dead or in prison by the time be's 20 anyhow, I might as well see what I can do with him.' He also likes the kid, he feels a kind of chemistry. "And thank God for people like Jason Todd, because without him and Alfred, Bruce Wayne would be sort of a monster. They're a very humanizing influence."

Death of Robin

In 1988, the fans were given the chance to influence the outcome of a storyline and voted to kill off a major character. Dennis O'Neil set the wheels in motion when he suggested that an audience might be attracted by an opportunity to participate in the creation of comics. "I saw it as a logical extension of stuff that's been happening in live theater for years and was increasingly happening in the electronic media," he said. "We decided that maybe the best way to do this was with a 900 phone number."

Discussions with DC president Jenette Kahn determined that the telephone vote shouldn't be wasted on something insignificant, so O'Neil decided he would use it to solve his "Robin problem." Jason Todd, the second kid to wear the Robin uniform, had been introduced in 1983, but his increasingly brash personality had alienated a lot of readers, and O'Neil knew he would have to alterJason's attitude or else eliminate him from the series. "I hadn't made up my mind which one," he said, so he decided to let the readers decide. At the end of Batman #427, Robin was caught in an explosion set by the Joker, and the inside back cover dis-played a pair of phone numbers that would determine the Boy Wonder's fate.

"Robin will die because the Joker wants revenge, but you can prevent it with a telephone call," the ad read. O'Neil and editorial director Dick Giordano were at odds in anticipating the outcome. "I expected it to be overwhelmingly in favor of letting the kid die," said O'Neil, but the final tally ultimately went against Jason Todd by a margin of only twenty-eight votes.

"I heard it was one guy, who programmed his computer to dial the thumbs down number every ninety seconds for eight hours, who made the difference." Although he would later regret the whole business, O'Neil went ahead and printed the ending the fans had demanded in Batman #428. "We did the deed, and we got a blast of hate mail and a blast of negative commentary in the press," he said. On the bright side, the way was paved for a third and more popular Robin, while the Batman comic books received publicity that would soon be snowballing into the biggest blizzard of Batmania the world had ever known.

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Grayson Fired, Todd Hired

The revised history

Jason Todd's origin was completely revised as of 1987's Batman #408, turning him into a surly street urchin.

In Batman #408 [1987]: As Batman and Robin battle the Joker, Robin is shot and almost fatally wounded. Rather than see Dick be further endangered, Batman "fires" his partner, sidelining the Boy Wonder for a time. Months later while in Crime Alley, Jason Todd literally runs into the Batman. He is caught in the act of stealing the Batmobile's wheels. Batman puts Jason into what he thinks is a school for wayward boys. In reality, Ma Gunn's School for Boys is teaching boys how to be criminals. This flashback tale establishes post-Crisis continuity concerning how Dick Grayson abandoned the Robin mantle. Jason Todd's new origin as Robin is told for the first time. This is the first revealing of Dick Grayson being 'fired' as Robin.

The problems...

Why is Batman willing to risk Jason Todd's life every night, but not Dick Grayson's? And if Grayson got "fired" as Robin, then where did he get the experience - not to mention the inspiration - to continue crime-fighting as Nightwing? And when did the Penny Plunderers trophy in the Batcave become "a giant replica of Two-Face's coin"?

Don't waste your breath pointing out these glitches to Batman and Detective editor Denny O'Neil. He already knows, "I am aware of the anomalies which have cropped up, particularly in regard to the two Robins," O'Neil admits. "I'm not comfortable with that situation and I am working to resolve it.

"There have been many problems," he explains. "One was getting our legs under us after Crisis on Infinite Earths, and then me getting my legs under me returning to DC after so many years. I didn't know all the continuity problems at first. I am not obsessed with continuity. That may be an unpopular stand to take, but continuity is a storytelling tool. It is definitely the tail and not the dog. "I don't wish to be cavalier about this; it's simply that there were problems we couldn't anticipate. All we can do is attempt to solve them as we go along, while not forgetting our primary mission which is to solve them entertainingly. I don't believe in writing stories to fill some continuity gap. There are some people who do, but I'm not one of them."

O'Neil has initiated discussions between himself, new Batman scribe Jim Starlin and DC editor/continuity cop, Robert Greenberger to sort out the Boy Wonders respective biographies. "We will do a story to clear all these questions up once and for all so that we can all be comfortable," O'Neil comments. "Let's have it all straightened out in our heads and in the readers' heads and get on to other things.

"We've explained why Dick Grayson didn't work out, but maybe not as emphatically as we should. Batman felt the kid was messing up and was going to get killed. He said, 'I'm not going to put you in danger anymore.' Grayson said, 'To hell with you, I can do this. I'll go prove it by being another superhero out there some place.' Clearly, he went and became Nightwing."

The Explaination

From DC Focus magazine Summer 1987

Q: I'm confused by the new origin for Jason Todd. How does it work with what happened to Dick Grayson and Nightwing?

A: It goes something like this: Dick Grayson was seriously wounded in combat with the Joker. Tensions had been brewing between the young man and Batman to begin with so the gunwound was the final straw. Batman swore he wouldn't endanger Dick any further and as far as he was concerned, Robin was dead. Dick, however, preferred the life of an adventurer, plus he recognized his commitments to the Teen Titans. What Batman didn't realize was that he required a partner, he needed that 'youthful spark' of life.

Therefore, when a few weeks after Dick's wound, Batman encountered street child Jason Todd ripping off the Batmobile's wheels, he saw that spark. However, to ensure that Jason wouldn't be subjected to the same dangers, Batman took six months to train him before allowing him to debut as Robin. During those six months, Dick recovered, moved out of Wayne Manor and set up shop in Manhattan, During a Titans case that involved the Terminator and Terra, he donned the costume of Nlghtwing. Feeling confident at last with his destiny, he retumed the Robin costume to Batman, who felt comfortable bestowing it upon Jason.

The Fix...

In Batman #416 [1988], Nightwing returns to Gotham and runs into the new Robin, Jason Todd. Jason's brashness jeopordizes Nightwing's plan to expose some drug dealers. Later, Nightwing returns to the Batcave and confronts Batman. Nightwing learned from the newspapers that there was a new Robin, and was upset that Batman took on a new sidekick after 'firing' him less than a year ago. Nightwing recalls his hero history, detailing his evolution of being 'fired' by Batman, to his brief college career and time with the New Teen Titans and his graduation to Nightwing. Nightwing makes Bruce admit he missed him, although the moment is awkward and Dick leaves. Nightwing meets up with Jason to resume their case and expose the drug dealers. Nightwing gives Jason his old Robin costume and the two heroes proceed on their case, as Batman looks on approvingly. This flashback tale establishes post-Crisis continuity concerning how Dick Grayson abandoned the Robin mantle and became Nightwing.

In Dick's own words, from that issue:

"We took on every crook and crazy that came our way and we beat them. We beat them all until that wretched day, the day I got careless. The Joker got off a lucky shot. I should have seen it coming. But I didn't. I took the bullet just below the right shoulder. Of course, you freaked out over the incident. You blamed yourself for my injury. Didn't matter to you that it was the Joker that pulled the trigger."

"So while I was still laid up in bed, you dropped the bad news on me, no ifs ands or buts... I wasn't to play Robin anymore. You couldn't continue to assume responsibility for a child fighting crime. For six years you trained me to be a crimefighter, then denied me that role. Of course, you assured me that if was for my own good. I lay there with a bandaged shoulder and my life in ruins. You smiled, kicked a great big hole in my life, then walked out the room. "

"I didn't see what option I had, other than to split. Alfred tried to talk me out of it. It was Alfred who forced money on me so I'd have something to live on. You couldn't even have bothered to say goodbye. Decided college might be my best bet. Thought that might give me an idea what to do with the rest of my life. For some reason, I found it hard to concentrate, though. When the semester ended, the school asked me not to come back. So I bummed around the country for awhile, had a few adventures."

"I eventually ended up spending a lot of time with the Teen Titans, a bunch of kid sidekicks, who didn't have much to do with their lives either. It was about that time I decided to make the big change. A new name and outfit. Robin died and from the ashes rose Nightwing."

Further revisions...

Nightwing Secret Files #1 [1999] tells the complete origin of Dick Grayson, detailing how he stepped down as Robin and adopted the name Nightwing. It clears up any continuity questions that might have remained.

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New Teen Titans (second series) #20-21 [1986]: In Switzerland, the villainess Cheshire resurfaces and battles Wonder Girl's "new" Titans, including Jason Todd; Hawk is out for blood, and Wonder Girl stops him from needlessly killing one of Cheshire's henchmen; Cheshire comes face to face with Speedy and informs him that he is the father of her child. Roy claims that he didn't know about the child; Cheshire fakes an assassination attempt for the Church of Blood, battles the Titans, and escapes with some Church of Blood acolytes, who arrive via helicopter for her; Jason Todd deals with the pressure of his teammates assuming 'Robin leads the team.'

New Teen Titans (second series) #28-31 [1987]: Jason Todd assists the Titans in the defeat of Brother Blood. Azrael is the opening act for Brother Blood's resurrection; Frances Kane arrives at Titans' Tower just before the Titans head for the Church of Blood in Washington D.C., where Nightwing and Raven are being held; Robotman and Jason Todd join the Titans for this case. Brother Blood, his acolytes and a brainwashed Raven battle, defeat and capture the Titans; Meanwhile, Frances Kane recruits several heroes to aid her in a rescue attempt. Brother Blood is channeling the emotions of his followers through Raven; A jealous Mother Mayhem wants Brother Blood dead; Raven returns to normal and attacks Brother Blood with all her might; Azrael saves Brother Blood from certain death and flies him to a monastery in Virginia; Brother Blood defeated in issue #31. Azrael finds a new calling as his 'caretaker' in issue #31.

Batman #408 [1987]: As Batman and Robin battle the Joker, Robin is shot and almost fatally wounded. Rather than see Dick be further endangered, Batman "fires" his partner, sidelining the Boy Wonder for a time. Months later while in Crime Alley, Jason Todd literally runs into the Batman. He is caught in the act of stealing the Batmobile's wheels. Batman puts Jason into what he thinks is a school for wayward boys. In reality, Ma Gunn's School for Boys is teaching boys how to be criminals. This flashback tale establishes post-Crisis continuity concerning how Dick Grayson abandoned the Robin mantle. Jason Todd's new origin as Robin is told for the first time. First revealing of Dick Grayson being 'fired' as Robin.

Batman #416 [1988]: Nightwing returns to Gotham and runs into the new Robin, Jason Todd. Jason's brashness jeopordizes Nightwing's plan to expose some drug dealers. Later, Nightwing returns to the Batcave and confronts Batman. Nightwing learned from the newspapers that there was a new Robin, and was upset that Batman took on a new sidekick after 'firing' him less than a year ago. Nightwing recalls his hero history, detailing his evolution of being 'fired' by Batman, to his brief college career and time with the New Teen Titans and his graduation to Nightwing. Nightwing makes Bruce admit he missed him, although the moment is awkward and Dick leaves. Nightwing meets up with Jason to resume their case and expose the drug dealers. Nightwing gives Jason his old Robin costume and the two heroes proceed on their case, as Batman looks on approvingly. This flashback tale establishes post-Crisis continuity concerning how Dick Grayson abandoned the Robin mantle and became Nightwing.

Batman #426-428 [1988-1989]: Jason searches for his birth mother and learns she is being blackmailed by the Joker. The Joker beats Jason with a crowbar and leaves him to die in an explosion. As a result of an 800-phone-in number, readers vote that Jason will not survive. In Batman #426 he is found dead by Batman. Death of Jason Todd.

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