Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Dumb in the Family

Cue Infinite Crisis predictions!

Let it never be said that I don't criticize DC. Also let it never be said that DC has enough stones to say "no, that's a really dumb idea" most of the time.

Case in point: Jason Todd as Nightwing, post-OYL.
She's a harbor chick!Check out panel 4.

The first image is the cover to the first post-OYL Nightwing issue, the second is from the Batman Annual coming the same month.

I never knew Jason Todd as Robin, except after his death and replacement by a better character. I should have a soft spot for the character, since his creator, Max Allan Collins, is from my area. I don't. I've known Jason Todd primarily in three capacities.
Jason Todd: The Corpse: Kind of a stiff (ba da bump). Never was real important, 'til recently. Though "A Death in the Family" was pretty good.
Jason Todd: The Grim Reminder/Plot Device: Is someone attacking Batman's family? Watch him get overprotective as he thinks about how each of his loved ones could end up bludgeoned by the Joker with a crowbar! Does Bruce need a little motivation? Watch him stare longingly at the display case containing Jason's costume, then move forward with new resolve! Want to make a symbolic point? Have someone destroy that display case! Is Tim Drake feeling overly secure? After walking by that case, watch him brood about the Robin he'll never be!

Once in awhile, I'll say that Norman Osborn was a greater threat to Spider-Man dead than he ever was alive. This is because Normie was a pretty lame character, but his death gave Spider-Man no end to the graveyard scenes where he would walk away meaningfully in the background while Norman's grave was in the foreground as a grim reminder of how far someone would go to destroy Spider-Man's life. As a villain, he was a decent threat. As a corpse, he was a reminder of Spider-Man's failures, of how his life affects others, and of the importance of a secret identity. Jason Todd works in a similar fashion. Dead, he's an icon. He wasn't much of a Robin, but he's a perfect symbol of the cost of Batman's war on crime, and a symbol of why Batman needs a family around him. In comics, Arthur Miller is wrong. Some characters are worth more dead than alive.
Jason Todd: The Red Hood: If they were going to resurrect Todd, I'm glad they did it this way. He's like Batman, but more brutal, and you're hard-pressed to disagree with his methods. He's a good foil, because he's just a hair over that line that Batman won't cross. Bruce trained him to be the next generation of Gotham crime fighting, and that's exactly what he has become. Except the next generation is "more extreme" and doesn't see the same distinctions that Batman's "establishment" does.

Any of these, from what I've seen, is better than Jason Todd: Robin. And all are better than Jason Todd: Creepy Adult Robin. So why, after making a name for himself, is Jason Todd taking up Nightwing's role? Seems silly for someone who wanted his own identity to further follow in the footsteps of another former Robin. Unless Dick becomes Batman and decides to play nice with Jason, but that seems both unlikely and retarded.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe it's a coincidence that Jason Todd and Nightwing have the same distinctive dagger in two Bat-books in the same month. It could be a coincidence that Winick talks about the Outsiders going underground, unbeknownst to the big heroes, and does the dirty, brutal work that they won't do (and that Red Hood will). It could be that Nightwing kills Jason, then goes to New York. But that seems almost as strange.

So, what say you? Does Nightwing become either a killer or a different former Robin? Is there just an abundance of wavy daggers in the DCU come March? Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

Yes, you.

Then who?

A little note: I'll be avoiding the comics blogohedron until I pick up the new Infinite Crisis issue. Hopefully, that'll be tomorrow. If not, then this blog will go unupdated for several days, and no one will probably notice. Happy holidays!


Jon said...

That's totally a Ra's Al Ghul wavy-gravy knife, man. It's one of those "only ONE GROUP uses such a STRANGE BLADE" knives that leads Batman to Fictional Arab Nation and the Demon's Head.

I mean, Ra's was almost certainly involved in Jason being alive, and using the Lazarus Pit is a perfect out for the former Robin's behavior. Bats can just write it off as "the Pit makes people crazy," but that knife is a total giveaway.

Tom Foss said...

That's a damn good point. I can't believe I didn't realize that was a Ra's blade.

I love those moments, too. "This rope has fibers that are native only to one part of Japan. Therefore, it was a ninja!"