I’ll admit that the idea of the Red Hood returning was not one I relished. His story felt like it came to a close in “Batman and Robin” a year and a half ago, and as I’d never been crazy about Jason Todd returning from the dead, the idea of him going away for good was a pleasant one.
But he’s back, and Judd Winick (who has written the vast majority of Jason Todd’s post-resurrection appearances) is helming the story, which is at least somewhat apt. Maybe it’s because he’s not running around as a super-villain, but instead locked up in a prison, but I don’t find Jason quite so annoying this time. He just comes across as a cross between conniving and pathetic, and it’s a take on him that works a bit better. Now, a lot in this story hinges on characters being stupid-I could buy some of the inmates, but the head of the prison being this dumb is a bit much-and it’s a bit of a red flag. Without it, Jason’s escape plan would never work. But despite depending on idiocy, it still comes together well enough.
The most interesting part of the script for me, though, was watching Jason interact with Bruce and Dick. The two page flashback to when Jason was still Robin works without rewriting Jason’s history, and the discussion between the two Batmen afterward likewise fit together. Damian gets little to do here, which is a bit of a shame considering the bad blood between them; a bit of a missed opportunity. But it’s definitely the part that stands out, over the actual escape attempt.
Guillem March and Andrei Bressan split the art here; March’s pages are a little inconsistent, unfortunately. The opening pages set in the past are some of his best, full of energy, as well as some great body language (I love the final panel on the second page where Jason’s posture just screams, “Aren’t I great?”). That’s something that continues into the present day scenes with Jason too, and his self-confident lounging in his chair. On the other hand, March’s attempt to replicate Frank Quitely’s large-headed depiction of Damian just makes him look slightly misshapen, and Dick in the Batcave doesn’t fair well either. Bressan’s pages click just a little better for me here; they’re a little more standard fare, but I like his smooth renderings of the characters, and Jason still has that total jerk expression on his face that March established earlier in the issue.
With “Batman and Robin” looking like it’s turned into the new “Legends of the Dark Knight” with rotating creative teams, “Batman and Robin” #23 isn’t off to a bad start. It’s taken a character I loathe, and made me mildly interested in what happens to him next. So hats off to Winick, March, and Bressan, because that’s such an impossible feat that, well, who knows what’s next?