Jun 18, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 480: Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2, June 2009


It doesn't take very long for us to find out who's behind the Batman killings, and it makes sense, really. Well, inasmuch as anything about Jason Todd makes sense.

A colleague, and friend, of mine, Nick Sousanis (you might know him from his book Unflattening, which is taking comics academia by storm right now) suggested to me that Jason Todd could in some ways be key to my thinking through of shared narrative universes. The changes Todd has undergone in his long existence are wonderful examples of the "revision wave" that Alan Moore posits in his early issues of Supreme. Todd began as virtually a carbon copy of the Dick Grayson Robin as Dick moved on to becoming Nightwing and leading the Teen Titans. But in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Todd was revised into a moody, violent, and thoroughly unlikeable character, which led to his unfortunate, but fan-motivated, death at the hands of the Joker. There's actually a moment in today's issue where Tim Drake is defending himself against Todd using a crowbar, a resonance of the merciless killing of the character in the late 80s.

And then Superboy Prime punched reality and Jason Todd came back to life.


I fucking hate Infinite Crisis. While it may have been the tool used to restore the Doom Patrol's history from John Byrne's disastrous run on the comic, the idea that this character was punching the walls of the universe and it reset reality has got to be one of Geoff Johns' worst ideas, and he's had a lot of them.

Anyway, regardless of how he returns, it's fitting that it's the three Robins fighting it out for the Bat-mantle, though Tim knows it's not his to take. The best scene in this issue is Alfred sparring with Dick (Alfred's apparently pretty good with a bo staff), and convincing him that he is the true heir to the title and the mission. It's a nice moment between two people who've known each other a long time, and proof that Alfred knows Dick, as he did Bruce, far better than he knows himself.

Will Jason Todd go quietly into defeat? No. Of course not.


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