Three jokers and the theme of trauma
Throughout New 52, and Red Hood and the Outlaws, Jason Todd has tried to convince his father to take revenge on the Joker, or at least explain why Gotham’s biggest villain is still wreaking havoc. The recent Three Jokers miniseries promised to shut down Red Hood. In an interview with Weekly entertainment, writer Geoff Johns described the events of the series like this:
“Barbara and Jason have been through so much, and so has Bruce, and it’s really all about healing, scars and injuries and what that does to someone. If you are suffering from trauma you don’t just get over it and move on with your life, it changes who you are. Sometimes it changes you for the better, sometimes it changes you for the worse. You can heal well and you can heal badly. That’s really what the book is about: heal well, heal badly, and survive.
But instead of healing Jason, Three Jokers essentially re-traumatizes him. The series reveals that young Jason, while on death row, promised to be the Joker’s Robin in exchange for his life.Whether this series is canon or not, such a statement comes across as crass, gratuitous and unnecessary. Then having Jason murder one of the Jokers in cold blood proves the character lacks healthy coping mechanisms. Three Jokers attempts to bring solace to Red Hood by introducing a romantic relationship with Batgirl, who was also traumatized by the Joker. Sadly, the relationship is not going anywhere – as it has been with most of Red Hood’s romantic wedding rings.
The character’s relationship difficulties can easily be attributed to his anger with his father. Batman still hasn’t done anything to alleviate his son’s sense of betrayal. In Three Jokers, Batman categorically refuses to engage on the subject. At the end of all three issues, not only did Batman not apologize to Red Hood for not avenging him, but he didn’t explain to him why he had done such a terrible job of keeping the Joker from coming out. streets. Instead, we learned that Batman still knows the true identity of the Joker and just doesn’t bother to do anything about it. What a superhero Gotham City has. The fact that this dance has been going on for so long explains why Red Hood is on.
It’s not just his own death that Red Hood has to face. He is recently lost his best friend, Arsenal. It could have been a great way to rotate Red Hood’s story, but his solo series makes him forget the events of Heroes in Crisis as if it were nothing instead of mourning the death of Arsenal or finding healthy ways to cry. In canon stories like his own team series, or in mini-series like Leviathan or Three Jokers, Red Hood has been unable to move on precisely because he fails to resolve his trauma.
Jason Todd is compelling when read in short bursts, but for fans who engage in all of his arcs, it gets repetitive. There are now fanfiction stories that examine and resolve his relationship with his father and brothers, all without resorting to him to murder people in cold blood or grieving off the page. Fanfiction writers looking for depth in Jason had to delve into their own imaginations because what they get in the comics is too shallow and repetitive.
How to move Jason Todd forward
What Red Hood really needs is for DC to leave him with emotions, like a real human being. If the Lazarus Pit has changed the way he treats and expresses his feelings, his stories should address that aspect of his personality. Red Hood still needs to exist in society – and society operates on emotional ties. How does a person who does not emote like the people around him adapt to the world?
Readers know Red Hood clearly still has feelings, even though they’re on the negative spectrum. But again, this is an area eager to explore. If Jason Todd is essentially a sociopath with memories of being a functional member of society, his series could explore how he masters his violent tendencies so that he can be a hero.
There’s room to take Red Hood away from being a primarily action-oriented character towards a cerebral character and take readers into the inner workings of his mind.
All the times Batman and Robin broke up
It’s also time to give Red Hood a book where he sits down and talks to his dad. Really speak. It shouldn’t take a lot of effort. Although Batman has his finger in plenty of pies, his strained relationship with Red Hood didn’t filter into his solo title. The few times Jason has appeared in the Batman comics he’s been surrounded by his brothers and is almost jovial.
It’s up to different writers trying to tackle the character in their series, but there has to be a way for the creative teams of these varied books to come together to move the character forward. Especially now, with a new editorial team supporting Red Hood and the Outlaws, this is a great opportunity to introduce new storylines, characters, and different ways to explore how the character works.
Aside from fixing Red Hood’s relationship with Batman, he must also be allowed to have a good ol ‘shout out about Arsenal. It’s 2020 and it’s high time to let the ‘boys don’t cry’ mentality go. Red Hood’s story seems unfinished because he didn’t mourn one of the most significant deaths of his life. His relationship with Arsenal has colored Red Hood’s personality and his actions – Jason has gone from being a solo vigilante to being an Arsenals partner. He should receive grief counseling to deal with the loss he has suffered and begin the process of moving on.
This is especially true in 2021, when so many people have lost someone and are unable to cry because of the pandemic. Red Hood’s circumstances may not reflect the world as it is now, but they are still extraordinary. If he can’t exactly schedule regular visits to a therapist due to his efforts to protect the world, he could be shown to have video calls with a counselor – not only will readers find such signs relevant, but it will also help to remove a lot of the stigma from men who receive counseling
Getting Red Hood past his trauma requires a new perspective on the character. The mainstream comic book world is still predominantly cis, straight, white and male. This not only makes the characters look similar, but it also prevents them from reflecting the times they live in and the readers who devour their stories. It’s time for characters like Red Hood to step into the 21st century – to accept that they need a day of sanity (or at least a few comic book issues) to become working members of the society. Wouldn’t that make a much more compelling story than a happy man with two guns?
Writer at heart and fond of well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comics, movies, television, books or of video games. Louis always has an eye on the subversive and defends diversity in the media. You can find it on Twitter @ LouisSkyee.