So I’ve had minimal free time in the last few weeks (frankly I should be studying as I write this, but oh well.) but with what free time I have had I’ve been using it to reread some comics.
I’ve always loved Jason Todd, no matter what anyone said about him. As much as I love Dick Grayson, I can definitely relate to Jason more — not that I’ve died or anything…. In any case Jason has always intrigued me, especially in his journey after his murder and resurrection. Regardless of the writer, Jason has grown a lot since his Under the Hood arc in 2005/6, and I think it’d be a huge disrespect to him to reduce him to his anger and “daddy issues” — although he does tend to have a lot of both often times.
In any case, I was rereading Batman and Robin #20, which takes place pretty soon after Damian Wayne was killed off by his clone/brother and, arguably, his own mother, Talia al-Ghul. Jason and Bruce had always been on shaky ground after Jay’s death, especially after Bruce disappeared and Dick had to take on the mantle of the Bat and subsequently fired Tim and hired Damian to be the new Robin ( but I’ll go into that in another post).
This issue had one scene that especially stuck out to me and really emphasized how fragile Bruce and Jason’s relationship really is — when Bruce takes Jason back to the spot where he died.
It seems pretty unfair to do something like this to Jason; to make him relive such trauma. Bruce has always been a complicated character and oftentimes it’s hard for me to understand his motives, but like his adopted children, many of his issues and his emotional intelligence (or lack thereof) stem from his past traumas.
Here is Bruce, having lost a son very recently, taking a son he lost and then regained back to where he lost him. Talk about unique situations.
Bruce is either so blinded by his grief that he can’t see what he’s even putting Jason through, or he doesn’t give a damn.
Jason, knowing how Bruce must be feeling to some extent, knowing that he’s reliving an incredible trauma, was ready to work with him. Jason was ready to put aside past issues and “stand by [Bruce’s] side” through it all. And then Bruce dragged him back to the one place he never wanted to revisit. Now Jay’s angry, he’s upset, he’s probably going through some sort of PTSD-related cocktail of emotions on top of it all. And yet he’s holding back. Why? Why would Jason feel the need to hold back against fighting Bruce when he’s this angry about being brought back to such a place?
After all this time, I think that Jason’s holding back proves that somewhere in his mind, he still does love Bruce. The man was a father to Jason for a huge portion of his life, and although their relationship is undoubtedly damaged beyond repair, Jason does still care about Bruce.
Bruce’s “I trained you better than that” hit me pretty hard. It seems more like Bruce convincing himself that he didn’t completely fail Jason, rather than reminding Jason that he can take Bruce in a fight. Bruce may have failed Jason in death but here he is reminding himself that he may not have failed Jason on every front.
So they fight. And in the end Jason is the one who stops it once Bruce stops hitting back. Bruce’s “I’m still standing” can probably be argued as slight-suicidal behavior, which Bruce has displayed before, and alludes to Bruce’s many other mental issues. He really wanted to provoke Jason into beating the shit out of him on the same spot where Jason himself was beaten to death. He really thought Jason would do something like that; Bruce misunderstands Jason’s feelings toward him in this moment, he misinterprets their relationship grossly in this moment. Although Bruce knows Jason isn’t above killing bad people, he intends to take advantage of this part of Jason to punish himself for failing both Jason and, most recently, Damian.
Some people may argue that Bruce is feeling worse about Damian’s death because he was Bruce’s “real” son, but to discount Bruce and Jason’s bond as Batman and Robin would be a huge disrespect to both of them. Bruce and Jason will always have a complicated relationship, one that is in fact broken beyond repair, but it is always more complicated than so many people realize.