By Quinn Hopkins
Between Winick’s “Under the Hood” and its film adaptation, Grant Morrison’s “Revenge of the Red Hood” storyline in Batman and Robin, and Winick’s “Lost Days” mini-series, a Red Hood series has been a long time coming. Jason is an extremely compelling character, he has a sizeable fan base, and he’s a badass anti-hero with twin red pistols, just waiting to take back the anti-hero niche in market (he’s Daredevil, the Punisher, Wolverine, Daken, and Venom rolled up into one guy who was trained by the goddamned BATMAN).
When DC came out with The New 52, Red Hood should have been a title selling at least 90k. Instead, we get Red Hood and the Outlaws, debuting at a respectable 65k but now down to 39k. Instead of a book bordering on Batman-meets-Boondock Saints, we got a book so contrary to the highlights of Jason’s character—ancient magic zombie sensei, say what?—that it really feels like it could have been about…anyone.
It’s not bad—39,000 people might even say it’s good—but that doesn’t change the fact that it should have been great. It should and could have been a breakout hit: the birth of a new franchise in its own right.
My intent is not to discredit the current creative team but to suggest a more financially profitable and hagiologically rewarding alternative.
First and foremost, Jason is a redhead. Bruce is WASPy, Grayson is Romani, and Tim is also pretty WASPy, and it all adds up to every Robin having black hair. Jason having red/blonde hair works perfectly to signal him as something slightly apart (the red headed step-child) and the fact that he used to dye it black to look more like Grayson just works so well with his character and his relationship with Bruce that I hate to see it forgotten. Then there’s the matter of his being the Red Hood and all, so his red hair works there, as well—almost like a predetermination of his character arc. The red also works well with the fact that the Joker, his pater mortis, beat his brains out—and the fact that only Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, another redhead, received equally harsh treatment. The Joker hates redheads?
Also, Todd is an Irish surname; so let’s take advantage of that by making Jason not just kind of Irish but extremely Irish: his father was first generation Irish-American and most of his extended family is still located in Ireland. This way, he has a place to build something for himself outside of Gotham while retaining a sense of personal history—for example, his ancestor, “The Flying Todd”, a Robin Hood-esque who mounted a private war against corrupt landlords during the Great Famine.
Jason could never work in Gotham, not with Batman around, and for him to work outside of Gotham it would have to be somewhere low key. Ireland is a good starting point and home base, but his adventures will take him global.
As far as his mission statement is concerned, Jason will have taken the next natural step in his development. Jason, the child soldier raised from the dead, will shift his concerns from the egotistical (proving his methods to the Bat-Family) to the universal (allowing his methods to speak for themselves). No longer a spirit of his own vengeance, he will embrace his role as a protector of the world’s innocents, staining his hands with blood so they won’t have to.
Batman doesn’t kill because he values life too much. The Red Hood does kill because he values innocence even more. The bigger sacrifice, in Jason’s mind, is to kill and live with the burden. The Red Hood is the result of Batman’s own selfish morality—had Bruce been willing to get his hands dirty, Jason never would’ve needed to. But the mark requires its Cain, and since Bruce wouldn’t carry the burden, it was passed down the line to Jason. Jason embraces the sin-stained mantle of the Red Hood. He’s happy to consider himself Life’s violent “catcher in the rye.”
Batman couldn’t prevent the Red Hood, but the Red Hood could have prevented Batman.
The Red Hood kills the killers.
The series would pick up right where Morrison left it. During the chaos of Professor Pyg’s escape from Blackgate Prison, Jason will also have escaped. He will have returned to the sewers—as in Battle for the Cowl—emptying one of his previous bases before hitting the road. When the series opens, Jason will already be operating in South America, tracking down a lead to the rogue Flamingo. Jason has vowed to rid the world of its deadliest and most sadistic killers. He’s decided to let The Joker be Batman’s problem, letting the responsibility of each victim fall squarely on Batman, while employing his own methods to more effective ends around the world.
The major themes of the series will be trace—the inability to escape the past entirely, no matter how many bodies you bury it beneath; revenge versus retribution—acting out of self-interest or out of interest for the greater good; and the dynamic of nature versus nurture—can man be anything more than the product of his circumstances?
- THE RED HOOD: Jason Todd
- SCARLET: Sasha
- BLUE BOOK:
Jason Todd* = Red Hood** = Red Cap = Holden Caulfield/A Catcher in the Rye
(* = Fox [“Flying Todd” = Flying Fox = Bat Species = Bat Family])
(** = Red Riding Hood)