Jason Todd was Robin for a comparatively short time, about 5 years in total, but in that short time, he caused a stir.
The confusion with Jason starts early on as initially, his origin story is very similar to Graysons. The son of circus acrobats, Jason witnesses the death of his parents and Bruce Wayne adopts him. The major way to distinguish Todd from Grayson was Jason’s red hair. This writing of Jason was well-received, likely riding the wave of Graysons popularity.
Following the ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ event, Many stories were re-written, including Jasons.
He was now a street orphan, whom Batman found stealing tyres off the Batmobile. Jason’s mother had died of an overdose and his father missing, having worked for Two-Face. Bruce takes Jason under his wing. While he doesn’t have the athleticism of Grayson, he has street smarts. But as he did with Grayson, he also sees if there isn’t a way to channel the boy’s rage, Jason will end up going down the wrong path.
This writing was not liked by fans, Jason was now a smart-alec kid with a chip on his shoulder. A rebel and know it all, he would often ignore Bruces orders, sometimes with dangerous consequences.
Around this time, DC had been discussing a new idea. They wanted to use audience interaction to influence stories. Realising they couldn’t waste the idea on something small, and seeing the falling popularity of Jason, they made their decision.
In ‘a Death in the family’, they gave the audience the option to seal his fate. DC published two telephone numbers for a vote.
With a margin of just 72 votes, they condemned Jason to comic book death. The argument around this continues today. The rumour is a fan programmed a computer to continuously redial the ‘Kill Todd’ number. If true, with such a small margin, one fan sealed his fate. Whatever the reason, the deed was done and the decision made. Jason finds out his biological mother isn’t who he thought. He sets out to track her down, setting him on his final path.
Jason travelled to Ethiopia, finding his mother to be an aid worker, Sheila Haywood. But all is not well, as he quickly finds out that the Joker is blackmailing her for medical supplies. Realising her son is Robin, she sees an opportunity.
Hoping to end Jokers hold over her once and for all, she hands Jason over. Joker Brutally beats him and ties them both up in a warehouse with a time bomb. Batman arrives, but it’s too late to save them, both are killed.
The death hangs in Bruce’s mind from them on. He keeps Jason’s uniform on display in the Batcave as a reminder of his biggest failure.
As with most deaths in comics however, Todd’s did not last forever.
As a result of ‘Infinite Crisis’, events that Steve describes as ‘Cosmic Nonsense’ took over. Superboy from Earth-Prime tries to punch his way through dimensions, causing ripples in time, changing the timeline. Notably, and weirdly, one of these changes was the zombie-like resurrection of Jason Todd.
Following his Romero-Esque resurrection, Talia al Ghul finds Todd, lost and suffering from amnesia. Ra’s al Ghul sees an opportunity. He submerges Todd in the Lazarus Pit and starts to train him, hoping to have an ally against Batman.
Regaining his memory, Todd discovers from Ra’s that Batman had not avenged his death. He also learns of the crippling of Barbara Gordon at the hands of Joker, and again Batman had failed to avenge her. Incensed, Todd joins the League of assassins and Ra’s al Ghul had found his vengeful ally.
Again I shall leave everyone there, hanging in suspense. Jason Todd takes on a few different identities over the following years, Red hood, Red Robin, even Nightwing. He will no doubt get a mention in Tim Drakes recap, but to learn more about Jason Todd post-Robin, be sure to vote for him for future episodes.
Steve’s suggested reading:
Batman: A Death In The Family
Batman: Under The Hood