Kid sidekick dies. Kid sidekick returns from the dead. Kid sidekick turns into a villain. What else do you need to know?
Previously in Red Hood: When Batman first started fighting crime, he ran into a character named The Red Hood, who may or may not have been a series of patsies posing as the head of a bigger crime organization. As the story goes (depending on whose story you are reading), the villain fell into a vat of chemicals, turning the character into the Joker.
Following the departure of Dick Grayson as Robin, Batman took Jason Todd under his wing and trained him to become Robin II. When an attempt to find his real mother went terribly wrong, The Joker beat Todd to death with a crowbar, and then dropped a building on him. Everyone in the world phoned in to tell DC to kill the annoying sidekick, and thus Jason Todd died in the pages of Death in the Family.
Enter Superboy Prime Punch! Jason Todd returns from the dead! Furious that Batman didn’t avenge his death, he takes up the mantle of the Red Hood to cause no end of trouble for the Bat-Family. This is the story of that transformation.
IT’S ALL BEEN DONE BEFORE
This issue picks up decades ago, or maybe it’s just a few months after the death of Jason Todd – I’ve never been able to understand DC’s justification/reasoning that everything that has occurred in the DCU has happened in the span of ten years. Ra’s Al Ghul, always one to keep tabs on his greatest adversary, informs his daughter Talia of Todd’s death. For the next several months/years, she uses League of Assassins’ resources to keep tabs on Batman and his changing mood, hoping desperately to find some way she can find a way back into his life.
Then comes that Superboy Prime Punch! that had so many of us shaking our heads, and quietly muttering, “Why DC? Why?” Todd is found by the League wandering the streets; a vegetable, with no emotional reactions, but still retaining all his skills as an expert martial artist. Fortunately, Winick dances around the Superboy Prime Punch! issue and leaves Todd’s resurrection a mystery.
Ra’s is very interested in Todd’s resurrection, as anything to keep Ra’s out of the Lazarus Pits is sure to make him the ruler of the world. Talia takes on the Todd investigation, but when it becomes clear that she wants to fix Jason in hopes of returning him to Batman, Ra’s orders the project halted. This prompts a rather unique response from Talia; throwing Jason into the Lazarus Pit in hopes it will cure him.
This is a very interesting project for DC to take on right now. First, there’s the new Red Hood direct to DVD animated movie coming out very soon, and second, Judd Winick already took on the return of Jason Todd in Batman: Under the Hood a few years ago. I’m glad DC is allowing Winick to write this prequel, but I think it will serve as more of a character study than any kind of gripping action/mystery story, as long time readers already know what comes next.
Winick has always been rather hit or miss for me when it comes to writing in the DC Universe. In Under the Red Hood, Winick brought a lot of action to the story, even if the emotional storytelling was a tad lacking. In this issue, it looks like Winick is finally giving readers the emotional, character driven story that we needed, and he’s doing it at a time when the character is starting to get a lot of new hype surrounding him. While I wasn’t a fan of Todd in Battle for the Cowl – especially in how it ended, I am interested in how a battered and broken shell of a hero, turns to the dark side to seek revenge on his former mentor.
There’s something in Pablo Raimondi’s work that reminds me a lot of the style that we see in current Marvel books, which shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s tackled many projects over there for years. It’s a different look that I personally don’t have a great affinity for, but it is nice. I particularly like the way Raimondi draws Ra’s at three different points in his life and we really see the effects of aging, as well as the hyped up rage resulting from a dip in the Lazarus Pits. It will be interesting to see how the artist’s style will transform a young looking Todd into a more mature villain over the next five issues.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH A READ
There’s something so vaguely familiar about this entire issue, that those who have been reading the Bat titles for the last five years are going to think Red Hood is a reprint of something they’ve read previously. There are some interesting aspects to the story but it just seems to be one giant clip show with a few new elements thrown in. Those unfamiliar with everything Jason Todd will enjoy this as a way to catch up on their hero/villain history, and it is worth a read. The next couple of issues should reveal more, but for now, Red Hood: The Lost Days #1 is worthy of 3 Stars.