"That's My Story--And I'm Sticking To It!"
We take a break this month from our outlaws still in space for a story everyone has been waiting for since the reboot started: Red Hood’s origin. Like most people, his story starts with his own parents’ story. His mother Catherine Elizabeth was a high schooler who met the older, charming, troublesome Willis Todd. After a hook-up in an alley [ahhh romance] she becomes pregnant. Willis was welcomed into her family home but it did not last very long. Jason grew up to the sounds of his parents fighting a lot. Jason was often left alone while his father was “working” and would watch over his mother who now was battling depression and drug addiction.
While Jason seems to feel sorry for and love his mother his feelings for his father seem much different, more cynical. He would have to put his drunken father to bed. Spending quality time with dad was working the corner dealing drugs [the same corner Willis met Catherine]. Jason never seemed to mind when his father got hurt whether by a batarang [but then Willis bragged about it] or gunshot wound. Then the day came when his father was arrested. And that was it, he died in prison. This left Jason the man of the house and he tried his best to protect his mom by scaring off her dealers. Like many addicts, he couldn’t save her from herself and found her “dead” in an alley.
Jason then began a life on the street stealing to survive. While he never hurt anyone others were not as nice to him. He was nearly killed but was saved by Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who tried to lift his spirits. After he recovered Jason attempted to steal drugs from her but was stopped by Batman. Batman was ready to cart the boy off to juvie hall but Leslie intervened and somehow convinced Batman otherwise. With that we was whisked off the street to a “friend of a friend” who happened to be Bruce Wayne
After a moving in Bruce told him the truth about himself. He had hoped that Jason could channel that similar loss into something larger than them. From the start as Robin, Jason had doubts about himself. He spent 6 months training and then would spend every night at Batman’s side. At first he was great at it. Shortly thereafter, the anger from his youth would come out and he would get more and more violent with the criminals.
Jason was then put on monitor duty where he came a across a photo of his mother who was clearly alive. 3 days later Jason was in the Middle East reunited with her but immediately it all “went bad” as the Joker was there and beat him nearly to death with a crowbar and then blew him up. Jason doesn’t remember what happened between his death and after: he just remembers awaking in the Lazarus pit.
The story doesn’t end there! The backup tale has the Joker takes over the narration and he has been in Jason’s life long before his death. One night Joker was bored and needed something to do, he noticed a young Jason in the next room whose father was having a gunshot wound treated. Joker decides he wants to make Jason a “star”. Joker was behind Willis’s arrested, he was also responsible for Catherine’s overdose which turns out to be not so deadly after all, just the illusion of death. He also was the one who dropped off a near death Jason to Dr. Leslie Thompkins and maybe the one who had him attacked in the first place. Before he knew it he created his own Robin, but shortly after destroyed him too. Joker feels disappointed after all his hard work Jason didn’t stay dead. Of which isn’t good For the Outlaws, because next month we finish up our space odyssey then we head into Death Of The Family!
They said this would be the story that changes everything and it did. I guess we will start with his mom. There is only one woman now, Catherine Elizabeth Todd.Gone is Sheila Heywood, his biological mother from A Death In The Family whom Jason had discovered as a different name on his birth certificate which led him around the world until he found her. Catherine was originally Jason’s stepmother Pre-Crisis, a woman we only saw in quick flashbacks, we knew she was probably a drug addict who’d died of an overdose. Catherine plays both roles in Jason’s story: mother and destroyer. Catherine “died” but shows up alive in the Middle East in the Joker’s plan to lure Jason to his death. Somehow that makes it all that much worse, when you think of the little boy with the baseball bat, wanting to protect his mother from her dealers and how she delivered him to a killer with a crowbar.
Some people are having a hard time understanding why Jason would be so loving and protective to his drug abusing mom? You got to remember that is his mother, love can be unconditional for a parent-child relationship. But if we’re really looking at things to adjust to, there is a huge change is that in the panel where Willis is getting arrested for the last time you can clearly see a baby bump on Catherine! Was Jason going to be a big brother at one point? Is he still and we don’t know it?
Next we have his meeting with Batman. I miss the old version with him stealing the wheels off the batmobile but I get it, times change. Also the adding of Leslie Thompkins being involved with his becoming Robin and she clearly has been de-aged in this new 52. I wonder if she is still part of Bruce’s backstory as a child?The big bombshell is the Joker not only killed Robin but may have even created him. The Joker is at best an unreliable narrator but we are to believe he is telling the truth. If this is the truth this is pretty wild. The Joker controlled his life and his death. We are all left wondering the details but this has got to be something that will be explored in Death Of The Family.
Also a minor observation, Roy Harper now seems to have been an alcoholic rather than a old 52 heroin addict as mentioned on the Who’s who in the new 52 page.
This issue does raise questions such as; does Joker know Leslie Thompkins has a connection to Batman? Why else would he drop Jason off there? If he knows about Jason does he know about Bruce or the others? Does he simply not care? Who was the person at Jason grave? What became of Catherine’s pregnancy? Why didn’t Catherine’s parents take Jason in? Does Batman know of Joker’s involvement? These questions are all the more reason to keep reading.
Until next time Hoodies !!
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