Throughout my life, I have seen my favorite characters go through quite horrible traumas. Whether it being part of their backstory like Bruce Wayne witnessing the murder of his parents or seeing it in action, such as Buffy having to kill Angel in order to save the world from decathla.
There are very few of these amazing characters that show what it actually is to go through emotional trauma. I had a hard time finding any until I first saw Jason Peter Todd AKA Red Hood. Some people found solace in Superman or Wonder Woman, and I love those characters deeply, but none meant the most to me as Jason did as he reminded me of my past struggles. Before I go on, for those who don’t know and there’s no way I can completely tell Jason’s history or my own but to recap this is who Jason Todd is. The second Robin to Batman, he is the “dead Robin” introduced in 1983 as a carbon copy of Dick Grayson. He dies in the same era six years later at the hands of Joker (tortured by a crowbar and dying in an explosion, while trying to keep his own mother who sold him out to the joker safe).
In 2004, thanks to Judd Winnick and Doug Mahnke, they brought him back as Red Hood, instead of being a hero like the rest of the bat-family, Jason’s Red Hood is an anti-hero.
Jason is regarded as DC Comics most complex heros due to the fact unlike his many hero counterparts, he didn’t just brush off his death like it was nothing. Jason experienced death at the young age of 15 and the consequences stuck with him. Most regard this as him wearing off from the Lazarus Pit and it’s known effect on causing madness. Before New-52, Jason was confirmed to have bipolar disorder, however the new continuity states that Jason has depression and, when left alone, shows signs of suicidal behavior.
In order to get “better,” human beings must suffer first. Regardless who you are, you have suffered through something in your life. Everyone tells you that it’s okay to suffer and that time heals, they never really say it takes a long time. They almost always sugar coat it. Jason is a prime example of someone who is trying, despite his suffering. He’s still going. Jason’s suffering isn’t romanticized but realistic. He’s deeply broken and is written in a way that isn’t triggering. Jason’s character demonstrates two important things: trauma and anger.
Jason facing death was no easy thing. The human brain has yet to comprehend what life is after death and it’s a very complicated thing. To be taken away from that state, to be reborn, is another. Where I explain this is where I focus on Red Hood: the lost days, especially the early issues. Jason in issue #1 doesn’t speak. He can’t really do much, except for fight. He’s very disconnected throughout the issue until the end where we see him tear up during a conversation with Talia. Jason then progresses with all his fighting training, but when looks up Bruce and Joker, he’s distraught which then he goes from sadness to anger other than the effect the Lazarus Pit had on him, we see a character suffering in silence. Jason can’t fathom what happened to him or why. He just knows it did. However his trauma is dealt with through fighting again,.
Jason having gone through death and coming back to find that Bruce hasn’t killed Joker and depending on the continuity replacing him with Tim Drake, the third Robin is his main source of anger. He feels wronged by Bruce that just for once he couldn’t cross the line between good and bad just to avenge the death of his own son. Jason believes that he meant nothing to Bruce. Which is why when he comes back to Gotham and confronts Bruce in a small moment of absolute sheer sadness, we see how Bruce not avenging him truly breaks him.
As a reader, I understood what it means to be angry. Jason doesn’t just show it’s okay to be angry but that you can’t avoid it and straight u can’t be okay with what’s happen to you. Sometimes there is no forgiving and forgetting and getting over it. Although facing his problems by torturing Bruce and being a better Batman than he ever was is unhealthy, Jason is still human and even as human as Bruce is.
Jason also wants to rid the city of criminals by killing them. A line we know modern-day Bruce Wayne wouldn’t cross. Batman rules by fear whereas Jason controls them and then takes them out. Jason’s love for killing criminals stems from when he was Robin killing a rapist and having 0 problems with it. In recent Rebirth issues of Red Hood and The Outlaws, Jason’s killing is implied and Bruce still has an issue with it. But it’s not as big of a deal as it was in previous continuities.
Which brings me to my last point in terms of Jason’s character: his relationship with Bruce. I don’t think many parents can relate to dealing with a kid that’s come back from the dead and is angry at them for not avenging. However, Jason and Bruce’s relationship is one that is far from perfect but is healing overtime. In early Red Hood and The Outlaws issues, we see the usual “Bruce says no killing but I do what I want” type of interactions going on. However in #6, we see them bonding. Bruce tells Jason that he doesn’t need to be Batman, because he already is. They bond over a burger. This is showing that despite the very things they can disagree on they are also healing together and that it is getting better between them.
What Jason Symbolizes to Me
What it means to truly be in pain. In my life despite being young I have faced things I don’t wish upon others. Yet I have come this far much like Jason. He showed me that anger and sadness and being distraught is all normal and apart of healing. That despite what it is we go through, we can’t wake up in the morning and it’s all gone by the swing of a magic wand. Jason shows that time heals, even if it heals slow. Jason himself is nowhere close to being cured or healed in terms of what he went through, he’s still here despite it all. Struggle is ongoing, but you must travel through regardless. Day by day, Jason is getting there. So am I. Whenever I have struggled, especially in recent months with my own mental health struggles. Time is slow mistress and the wounds of past take a long time to heal but in time, it will be better. Jason is a guide that it will be better but we must.
Jason Todd’s history and present is one that sticks with many DC Comics readers as the anti-hero of DC. However, I found a hero that has shown what it’s truly like to go through an accurate healing process.
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