Introduction to the current status quo of Batman

Everyone knows Batman. But not everyone knows what’s going on with him now. So a brief history lesson might be useful, because comics have a lot of continuity. Hopefully this might help potential readers feel more comfortable picking up a Batman comic.

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Red Hood: Lost Days

In the 1980’s, the original Robin, Dick Grayson, stepped out of the shadow of the bat and took on the alias of Nightwing and became the defender of Blüdhaven. In his place, Batman took on a new apprentice as Robin, the delinquent Jason Todd who Batman first met while the boy was trying to steal the tires off the Batmobile.

Some time later, this second Robin was brutally murdered by the Joker, and his death is regarded by Batman as one of his greatest failures. However, being a comic book character, Jason Todd naturally returned years later. He has posed as Nightwing, and fought to become Batman during the Battle for the Cowl, but is best known for becoming the Red Hood (which was the first persona of the Joker).

After recent appearances in Batman and Robin with his new sidekick Scarlet, he is currently starring in a mini-series called Red Hood: Lost Days which presents a history for Jason Todd since his return from the dead.

Written by Judd Winick, the mini is halfway through it’s run. Thus far we have been presented with an utterly damaged Jason Todd who has been under the care of Talia al Ghul from the League of Assassins, whose motivations for her treatment of Jason seems to be out of respect for Batman, and perhaps some sort of desire to get back on Batman’s good side.  In the most recent issue (#3), Jason is shown to be training in many areas in which Batman did not train him (such as toxins and killing) and this is because Talia is basically trying to stall Jason from confronting Batman out of a hope that she can possibly stop turn Jason away from that path.

Winick’s writing is decent enough, and as an invested Batman fan I am finding the book to be enjoyable, but not necessarily amazing. Knowing where the story is leading, seeing as it is all essentially a flashback, makes it lose much of it’s impact. It’s interesting enough seeing Jason’s interactions with the League, but we know it doesn’t last. There are glimpses at Jason’s moral code, particularly in today’s issue, and that is very intriguing but not quite enough to make the book worth it. I believe that had the book instead been a look at the Red Hood as he is currently, then it would be a much more engaging read.

On the art side of things, Pablo Ramondi did the pencils for issues #1 and #2, with Jeremy Haun taking over on issue 3.  Brian Reber is on colours. Under both pencillers the art is sufficient and suitable for what it’s representing, but it’s not going to blow you away. I also don’t think I really prefer either artist, they’re work is at a similar standard. I will mention that the cover for issue #1 (pictured), by Billy Tucci and Francesco Mattina, is simply amazing and I really really like it. However, the ‘devil horns’ effect caused by the bat symbol behind him is obscured on the final cover by the Red Hood title, and thus kind of spoils the effect, which is disappointing.

So what does all this add up to? In my opinion, a mini-series which is essentially sufficient, but doesn’t quite have an interesting enough plot to engage with readers. Only for Jason Todd fans.