Cameron Day in “This is Warfare Unarmed Rebellion” Photographed by Ricardo Santos and Styled by Joan Pombeiro for Fucking Young! Online
oh shit, camera
there is nothing better than this
there really isn’t.
the lennon humor is the best thing on earth
(Source: , via yeire)
Bruce: The kid’s losing it. He dived into those thugs like someone looking to die.
Alfred: I’ve been noticing some disquieting things about Master Jason, myself. The lad avoids talking about his parents lately. I’ve come upon him, several times, looking at that battered old photograph of his mother and father, crying. When he’s seen me, he’s hidden the picture and left the room, refusing to talk.
Bruce: In other words, I may have started Jason as Robin before he had a chance to come to grips with his parents’ deaths.
Alfred: Being your partner is not exactly the best situation for a teenager adjusting to such a loss.
— Batman #426 / A Death In The Family: Part One (1988)
If you’ve been around the Batfamily fandom long enough, you’ve probably heard some of the complaints surrounding modern interpretations of Jason’s “brutal” behaviour as Robin. I can’t help but wonder if this might partly be due to modern writers taking panels like the first eleven here out of context.
In the first eleven panels, you have Jason rushing head first into a violent confrontation regardless of prior planning and Bruce’s orders. It’s very easy to point to these and say, See! Look! He was a violent and reckless Robin and it’s obviously no surprise that he died and became a murderer.
You also have the line, “All life’s a game,” which I believe is what inspired this little aside from Batman: Hush:
What writers then forget, of course, is the information presented on the page that comes immediately after.
- Bruce and Alfred are clearly treating this behaviour as unusual. Don’t forget, Jason has been Robin for a while now — and here Bruce is saying that Jason is “losing it" (indicating he had "it" before) and Alfred is saying that "the lad avoids talking about his parents lately" (emphasis upon "lately”). Obviously, this reckless, violent behaviour is a recent occurrence and is not typical of the rest of his Robin tenure.
- It’s made clear that this is about Jason having emotional issues — not about treating being Robin as a game. He is upset over his parents’ deaths. Note the words, “He dived into those thugs like someone looking to die." It’s more than Jason being unnecessarily brutal; he is depressed enough by his grief that his behaviour is starting to creep into the realm of suicidal.
- BRUCE ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THIS BEHAVIOUR IS HIS FAULT. I cannot stress this enough. Not only is this behaviour unusual and recent, Bruce realises that he failed to realise his adopted son’s emotional needs. He failed to realise that Jason would not come to terms with his grief through fighting criminals (perhaps he thought that it would work for Jason as he believed it to have worked for himself, or he’d expected Jason to adjust the same way that Dick did, or he didn’t consider it at all).
(That last point is why, though most of the blame for Jason’s death is on Joker and Sheila’s shoulders, I think it’s bullshit for people to completely dismiss Bruce’s part in Jason’s death. He loved Jason sincerely, but he was not the best father he could have been. He made mistakes when it came to Jason’s emotional well-being. His lack of support regarding Jason’s emotional problems is partly what caused Jason to die.)
I got the above points from a single page. That’s all you need to read to realise that Jason wasn’t typically reckless and violent — and even if it isn’t, you only have to read the rest of the first two issues of A Death In The Family.
Compare the above fight scene from Batman #426 to the fight scene from Batman #427, the next issue (wherein they systematically take down an entire camp full of trainee Arab Muslim terrorists
and yes, you could talk about some disturbing racist / anti-Islam implications in ADITF and certain previous issues written by Jim Starlin, but that’s an essay for another day), and you get a drastically different picture.
In the latter fight scene (unlike the one presented above, where Jason disregards Bruce’s orders), they work together like a well-oiled machine. They take down the terrorists with ease. Jason heeds Bruce’s orders. Again, I emphasise that this comes after the above fight scene — Jason is reckless leading up to his death, but he is not reckless immediately before it. When there is hope that Jason is able to reunite with his parent and give himself closure, Jason is himself again and aside from disobeying Batman’s orders in his desperation to rescue his mother Sheila from a homicidal psychopath, he is very much rational.
Which leads me to the point I’ve repeated multiple times before but will never get tired of hammering home, though other people probably are at this point:
Jason being reckless and violent didn’t kill him.
Jason being willing to trust his mother and wanting to save Sheila’s life, and Sheila being selfish enough to betray his trust, and Joker being a murderer with no qualms about killing a teenager, and Bruce failing to recognise Jason’s emotional needs earlier, killed him.
And this isn’t even touching the rest of his Robin run, the majority of which Jason spent being rational, punny and bright — unless he had a legitimate cause for being angry, such as being faced with a serial rapist or a man who murdered his dad. Go ahead and read Batman #424 a.k.a. the Felipe Garzonas issue; try to tell me that Jason Todd is treating this “like a game.”
I could also write an essay on the classist implications of modern interpretations of Jason’s behaviour as Robin — specifically, treating his brutal behaviour and death as Jason’s fault without addressing the circumstances leading to it (such as being trapped in a shitty socioeconomic situation as a kid through no fault of his own, losing his mother to the drug trade, losing his father because said socioeconomic situation meant that Willis resorted to crime to put bread on the table and it bit him in the ass, and not getting proper therapy to deal with his grief), whereas his rich mentor Bruce Wayne always has someone at hand whenever he’s wallowing in self blame to reassure him that he did his best and there was nothing more he could have done to help the kid, he was just problematic from the get-go.
TL;DR — context is fucking important, kids. Taking panels of Jason being violent during his Robin tenure out of context and using them as evidence of him being brutal and reckless all the time is a bad thing to do.