April 7th, 2009 by | Tags: , , ,

And so it appears in the preview of Battle For The Cowl #2. . . oooops, spoilers already . . .

. . . that Jason Todd has taken up his gun-happy ways again.  This surprised me a little, since it seemed that during the dimension-hopping he did during Countdown he had begun to reform.  He was part of a team.  He mellowed out a bit.  The series even provided a turning point for him.  When he found a Batman who had killed the Joker after his Jason’s death, he delivered an excoriating speech about morality, and how that Batman had lost his way.

Now he’s armed to the teeth, shooting people, and soliliquing his little heart out about how Bruce had it all wrong joining up with teammates and not using deadly force and by gum, he’s going to show them what a goddamn Batman can do.

I may be paraphrasing that a bit.

I sighed over the preview, because just as Jason was making some progress, he’s brought back to his old ways.  No doubt another fan out there is cheered this preview, because after some idiotic setbacks when they seemed to be making Jason into another bland hero, he’s back on track.

But if you take a step back, both points of view may combine into something more true.  Since the 1980’s the character of Jason Todd has been caught between his desire to kill and his desire to be a hero.  Since about that time, the character of Bruce Wayne has been caught between being a petty and cruel control freak, and being a cooperative team-member.  The character of Lois Lane spent half a century flitting between Superman and Clark Kent.

I have no doubt that in part these ongoing personality shifts are due to editorial mandate and the constraints of the medium.

At the same time, can’t we look at them as a reflection of our lives?  I have tried to shed sarcasm in favor of enthusiasm for a long time.  I’ve also told myself every evening since I moved to a place near a park that I was going to take up jogging.  It’s too late at night to tackle anything requiring self-reflection, so let me only say that it has been years and my sneakers are still bone white.

I have no doubt that we all have our own set of sneakers, our own patterns that we swear every New Year’s Eve, every night before bed, every time our problems bite us in the ass, we will change.  How often do we?  And even in those rare instances when we do, how often do we do it permanently?

There are issues that we struggle with all our lives.  I will always have a moment in the morning in which I decide whether to roll over or get my lazy ass out of bed.  Jason Todd will always have a moment in which he has to decide whether blow someone’s head off or not.  Bruce Wayne will always teeter between being a dependable hero and a paranoid, back-stabbing, self-righteous freak.  (I say it with love.)

The artificial way that superheroes in a comic advance and retreat along the same path over and over again may be the most realistic thing about them.

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12 comments to “Zig-zagging”

  1. Excellent stuff. (Would love to be able to blame Jeph Loeb for this, incidentally)

  2. I was pretty sure that at the end of Countdown, he’d had an epiphany about his epiphany and was now back to his old knifey ways.

    I think arguably the only place Jason Todd fits in the “Bat Family” is as the black sheep, the anti-Hero. Ever since DKR, Jason’s been held up as a symbol of the time Batman failed. First of all Batman failed to save his life, now it seems he failed to save his soul.

    Urk, even I thought that last line was cheesy.

  3. Still miss Cassandra and Jean Paul Valley

  4. More comic fans need to read this before they shout “acting out of character” at the top of their lungs.

  5. good post

    though I have to point out that in that soon after that Countdown bit you mentioned, Jason bashes in the head of a Joker with a rock when he mocks a Batman’s death.

  6. @Tekkamansol: @Darin: Ah, there is the rub. Everyone has a point in which, ‘this character struggles with the darkness in their soooooooooul,’ becomes ‘oh, what the hell?’

    One person’s editorially mandated out of character moment is another person’s ongoing recognizable character issue.

  7. In Robin, Jason was organising Gang Wars and even tried to shoot Tim at one point I believe, so this isn’t all out of character for him.

  8. Countdown doesn’t count. Ever.

    (Honestly, from a company that would usually do an excruciating number of backflips to explain how Countdown fit into continuity or even make sense in any way, I’m pleased with DC for just ignoring the whole thing.)

  9. Nice epiphany.
    However, Jason Todd’s only place remains the grave from which he was punched out of.

  10. @AERose:

    yeah, I was dreading this when I heard he was gonna be in Robin, but I was pleasantly surprised when Jason just went “oh yeah I went on adventures”and was done with it

  11. You could read something deep into it but really it just shows that writers don’t know what to do with the Jason Todd character

  12. […] I can see the point that he is trying to make, and although I recently wrote about this very issue as it pertains to Jason Todd, Didio’s response rings false to […]