Tuesday, July 05, 2005


I'm having a very mixed reaction to this story arc.

On the one hand, Family Reunion has been such a rollicking good time, so energetic, so caustic, so snarky, so much fun that I find myself wondering where the heck this Judd Winick has been for the last three years and who was the preachy, self-absorbed shlub handing in scripts with Winick's name on them. Folks who lived through my Turbo Nuclear Dark Shrew phase while I was still reading Green Arrow or who are still reading Outsiders find themselves looking for a fourth pale horse on the horizon when I start mumbling about maybe putting this arc on my shortlist for the Top Books of 2005 (First Half edition).

On the other hand... bringing back Jason Todd, as I just griped about with Hal Jordan, should mean something and it should be toward a very good purpose. Bringing back Jason Todd is huge. Huge. Anyone who can stay dead for longer than a decade needs a really good reason to rise from the grave. And so far, Winick has not provided one. He's just been entertaining enough to hide that fact for a while.

Tweak the story a little bit and Family Reunion works just as well without Jason. This wasn't a story about Jason per se -- there was nothing here that was about the troubled teenager and the man who tried to fix him and who ultimately failed him. This would have read just as well with anyone who tried and failed to be Batman's colleague and who doesn't have a solid track record of preserving life past the point of common sense. All Red Hood needed was a decent knowledge of the BatCode of Ethics and a recent atlas of Gotham and this issue works just as well without the whole Let's Do DNA Testing parts.

Jason's promise -- to be Gotham's vigilante where Bruce has been her hero -- is valid and has much potential, especially with a Red Hood who is harder to knock down than the typical Gotham mook and won't be needing the sort of mercy that Jason mocks Bruce for. Jason is seemingly emotionally functional, physically capable, and tactically sound and he could be a terrific problem for Batman because he could be a success all while being exactly what the GCPD thinks Batman is (an out of control vigilante) and doing nothing to ease post-War Games tensions. Not to mention throwing the Batclan into an uproar once they find out.

Bruce's final words -- that it ultimately doesn't matter if Red Hood is the real Jason Todd -- are hooey and everyone knows that. (And I'm not convinced that this is even the real Jason; Jason cited the Loeb/Lee Hush appearance and this could just as well be a second bait-and-switch) The ramifications are endless -- Dick, Tim, Barbara, Leslie, and everyone else who lives intimately with the shadow of the Good Soldier that Jason posthumously became; Clark, Diana, and the larger sphere. The Joker, when he recovers. There could be so much done here, but it seems odd to be doing it smack dab in the wake of War Games and right during the lead-in to Crisis II... Except.

Except if after the One Year Later post-Crisis II debut, Jason's going to be wearing the cowl. (Because it's been a while since AzBats and post-Crisis II needs their version.)

In the end, I think I will give this issue and this story arc the sort of praise I give the best of Jeph Loeb's stories: fun stuff, but I wish it weren't in continuity.


Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Totally agreed.

I like the Red Hood.

I do not like "Red Hood as Jason."

They are two very different characters.

One is a weirdo who is responding to Batman's lack of killing by going Punisher on the villains. Basically, a charasmatic Punisher in the DCU.

The latter is a pissy little brat, who is mad at Batman so he wants to show him up.

Wed Jul 06, 07:07:00 PM EDT  

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