Jason Todd – Wrong Number (Red)


Art by Ramon Villalobos


Well, you’re wrong, buddy. It’s crazy how wrong you are!

“A Death In The Family” is a lazy cop-out of a comic.

Allow me to explain.

Jason Todd’s death at the hands of writer Jim Starlin, DC editorial and you, the fans at home, came at an odd time in Batman’s history. It takes place just after Alan Moore’s seminal “The Killing Joke”, one of a few comics that signaled the beginning of the end of Cool Bronze Age Detective Batman and set us on the path of the Obsessed Loner Vigilante Batman we all know today. “A Death In The Family” is the end of that era and the beginning of the other, for better or worse.

When DC revamped Jason Todd to look and act less like his predecessor and more like his own man (street smart and, at times, morally dubious), the character was met with widespread disapproval. DC therefore decided to let the fans vote whether he should live or die as punishment for his sins (he was unlikable and had probably killed someone a few issues prior.)

Let’s talk about how gross this idea is for a minute. By leaving Robin’s fate up to readers, Starlin and co. were essentially throwing up their hands and claiming no responsibility for the stories they were telling. This was a sales gimmick designed to appease fans at best, and was creatively bankrupt at worse. Jason Todd was a character in need of fixing, sure, but there was so much potential wasted. Imagine how cool a Bronze Age story pitting Batman versus Robin, as real enemies, could have been? Or at least a story where Todd’s death isn’t decided by committee, where it simply happened and we have to deal with it as readers.

Jason Todd was brought back from the dead a few years back, so this conversation is pretty moot I guess. But you could argue the commercial success of “A Death In The Family” got the ball rolling on one of the most loathsome trends in comics: high profile character deaths as sales spectacles. That’s the real legacy of that story, the polybagged collector’s-item-as-comic, the pre-advertised slaughter of long time character in the pages of USA Today.

So… wanna change your answer?

Ramon Villalobos is an artist that doesn’t like to talk about himself. He is a creative genius and standard bearer for future generations. Look at his work on tumblr and buy his work here. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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