Today we will be delving into Batman’s greatest failure. Jason Todd, the second person to don the Robin costume, was becoming more and more brutal when handling villains with Batman. Bruce decided that he could not continue to train him and strips him of his Robin title. Jason leaves and Batman is a lone crimefighter once again. Jason gets a hold of some of his families papers and sees that on his birth certificate the first letter of his mother’s name is not the same as the woman he thought was his mom. The rest of the name is blotted out but Jason has a new mission, to find his biological mother.
Jason tracks down leads which send him to women in Africa and the Middle East. While there, Jason Todd and Bruce meet again. Batman is there trying to stop another plan from the twisted mind of the Joker. They work together again and Batman helps Jason track down Jason’s true mother. Batman, who has no hope of ever seeing his parents again has helped Jason find a mother he too thought was lost forever.
While this emotional reunion should have been one of Batman’s greatest victories, his old nemesis, Joker, is there to ruin Bruce’s life for nothing more than amusement. Joker blackmails Jason’s mother into giving Joker something that is very close to Batman; Jason Todd. When Jason reveals that he is Robin, his mother takes him to the Joker. Now when most people think of a comic book character death they think of death rays, lasers, a green meteor, magic etc. Jason Todd’s death was much more brutal and real than any of that. No buzzer in the hand, laughing gas, or other clown tricks. Joker beat Jason to a bloody mess with a crowbar. Joker then left Jason and his mother tied up in a warehouse with a bomb; there would be no one to swoop in and save them. Jason did not have a knife hidden up his sleeve to escape the ropes. No one was there to disarm the bomb. Batman arrived too late and when he found the warehouse he saw only rubble and the lifeless body of Jason Todd. This was Batman’s greatest failure.
Batman became more secluded and violent than ever. He had lived his life surrounded by crime and death but now, just like when his parents were shot and killed, one of his own family was dead. His anger almost pushed him to break his moral code and, although he didn’t do it, he decided that it was time for Joker to die. While leaving Joker alive meant that Batman held on to his moral code, it eventually, years later, lead to one of Bruce’s most emotional show downs.
Like many comic book characters, Jason Todd was not destined to remain in his grave, but he did remain dead for many, many years. The story of his revival is long (and frankly not very good) but his actions when he returned had a great impact. Jason Todd returned from the dead to find that his murderer was still alive and Batman had not killed him. Todd decided that Bruce’s war was not going far enough. Todd began a war of his own, killing criminals he deemed too dangerous while at the same time taking control of the criminal underground in Gotham. Jason tacked down Joker and got some revenge. Jason beat Joker to a bloody mess with a crowbar. Jason had crossed the line and Batman had to fight a monster of his own creation. The story ended with Jason holding a gun to Joker’s head. Jason gave Bruce a choice, Bruce would either have to kill Joker himself or Jason would. Todd slid Batman a gun and made him choose. Jason made a mistake, he underestimated the Dark Knight. Batman threw a batarang and took out Jason while keeping everyone alive. Joker, being the crazy person he is, took the opportunity to blow up the building the three were in. They all survived but Batman had lost Jason for the second time, this time to the crime that he wanted to save him from in the first place.
An interesting piece of information in Jason’s death at the hands of the Joker was that DC comic book fans voted for it to happen. Jason was not very popular, so DC set up a phone voting line to determine if Robin lived or died. The fans spoke and Batman would never be the same. It was the first death of the Bat family, but it would not be the last.