As the end of the year approaches, DC Comics’ “Death Of The Family” Bat-family crossover is still heating up, with Joker facing off against Tim Drake and Jason Todd in this Wednesday’s issue of “Red Hood And The Outlaws.”
Written by Scott Lobdell with art by Timothy Green II, “Red Hood” will see Jason and Tim thrown together as Joker targets the ex-Robin and Red Robin. The action continues in Lobdell’s “Teen Titans,” with artist Brett Booth, as the Titans attempt to find and rescue Tim in Gotham but end up running into the Outlaws and Batgirl instead.
Speaking with CBR days before issue #15 of “Red Hood” continues to the crossover, Lobdell happily jumped into a discussion about his books with his usual flair, quoting Shakespeare, cracking jokes and otherwise giving THE BAT SIGNAL the low-down on the true menace the Clown Prince Of Gotham poses to Jason — a man he’s already killed once!
CBR News: Before the “Death of the Family” arc, in the #0 issue, Joker claimed to have basically built and destroyed Jason —
Scott Lobdell: Creepy!
It is! Is it also something that’s meant to be tied into “Death Of The Family,” or will it be touched on in the upcoming issues?
Anybody knows I’m not the biggest planner in the world, but yes, definitely the events of #0 is told in such a way that that is going to lead directly into the events of “Death Of The Family,” and specifically “Red Hood And The Outlaws” issue #15. I think that we have to remember Joker was directly speaking to the audiences, which already cast him in the role of an unreliable narrator; even under the best of circumstances you’re probably not going to get the full truth out of him. But as the story progresses, we’ll see that Joker is definitely coming at Jason in the most personal way imaginable. I think while traditionally we look at Jason and Joker in terms of who beat whom to death, it’s mostly often been about what happens when the masks and cowls are on. In this case, we’re going to see the whole arc between Joker and Jason and Tim is going to be much more intimate than I think anybody expects.
Along those lines, we’ve already seen the death of Jason at Joker’s hands. As a character to which the worst has already happened, how does Jason view Joker and how do you write him as a threat to Jason?
Well, it’s funny you say that, because I think that’s exactly Jason’s attitude when the Joker first shows up. He’s like, “Dude, you’ve pretty much already beaten me to death with a crowbar!” Whatever bag of tricks you’re going to pull from, you’re going to have to dig pretty deep because after you beat someone to death with a crowbar, I’m not sure how you scare them moving forward. To his credit, I can say it’s going to take a few issues, but Joker will get under Jason’s skin in a way that I don’t think we’ve ever seen Joker be this personal. There’s something Jason will discover that pushes Joker’s buttons in a way that’s much more personal than even Joker has been able to push Batman and the rest of the Bat-family’s buttons.
There’s that old saying, “Be careful when you look into the abyss, because the abyss looks back into you.” I think Joker, throughout the storyline, is going to realize that as much as he’s trying to terrorize Jason, Jason’s very existence sticks in Joker’s craw in a way that none of the other Robins or the Bat-people have that same effect. I think Joker sees Batman, as we learn in “Death Of The Family” as more as a figure to serve a function of, whereas his relationship with Jason is very personal. And if anyone who has ever broken up with somebody knows Hell hath no wrath like the wrath of a Joker scorned! [Laughs]
Very Shakespearean! While Jason has this personal connection with Joker, how does Tim fit into this? What is the Joker’s angle on Tim?
I think Joker felt that by killing Robin, he was in part killing Batman, so when a new sidekick showed up, it probably threw Joker into a much darker rage than we have realized in the past. As a result of this story, we’ll see that the damage he inflicts upon Tim, who, as we all know, his major strength is his intellect, that is where the Joker is going to strike hardest at Tim, and the results are going to be surprising. I guess I would say a Red Robin by any other name would smell just as sweet — that gives you two Shakespearean quotes in one article! [Laughs]
Besides Tim and Jason, there is also a Batgirl cameo in “Teen Titans.” How does BArbara Gordon fit into all this?
As we’ve seen in her storyline, she’s going to be very, very busy that evening. What happens is she’s responding to an emergency call from Red Robin, and when she gets there, she discovers it’s the Teen Titans and she’s responding to a text from Bart who has rummaged through Tim’s stuff and found a cell phone with her number on it. She’s not at all thrilled with this notion of babysitting a bunch of teenagers who, quite frankly, as far as she’s concerned would be better off going back and waiting for Batman and Batgirl and the rest of the family to deal with this. She pretty much has no respect at all for these kids who, while she realizes their heart is in the right places and they want to help Red Robin, the truth is, she has very little more than the first five pages to offer to those kids, and then she’s off! [Laughs] The good thing is, she’s off to the rest of the story in her book, and it actually allows Roy Harper, of all people, to step in and offer the team leadership. Anybody who’s been following Red Hood probably suspects that having Roy as your de facto leader should pretty much be an indication of how dire the situation’s become, but he’s actually going to rise to the occasion.
While Jason and Tim are dealing with the Joker, is the Joker also trying to go after their teams? Or are the Outlaws and the Titans more focused on their first, perhaps acrimonious, meeting?
I think that Joker knows that when you’re Red Robin and you’re hanging out with a speedster and a solar-powered person and another woman with impossible strength and flight, you’re going to have to keep them pretty distracted. The truth is, the Joker isn’t the type of guy who is well-suited for meta-humans. He, because he’s the planner that he is, has set up a situation where the Teen Titans are going to be too busy to help Tim and Jason.
As far as acrimony between the two teams, I’d have to say that there is not going to be the traditional, “We must fight, oh wait, we are friends and we must fight for a united cause!” I think the kids are so terrified of the situation that when Roy and Starfire show up, they are more than happy for the help and the experience of these two only slightly older heroes.
Looking again at Jason and Tim, outside of the fact that you’re writing both of them, what is it about Red Robin and Red Hood that would make them come together or seek each other out when the Joker attacks?
Actually, they don’t have any say in the situation at all! It’s the Joker who is putting the two of them together in kind of the way that war criminals used to experiment on twins or experiment on siblings; Joker realizes that the dynamics between Tim and Jason are such that he can kill two Robins with one stone. I think that Jason and Tim have much more in common than not. The idea is, you have Dick, who was the original, and you have Damian, who is the son of Batman — and these two are in the middle, who have come from outside and kind of both have legacy issues in a way Dick and Damian do not. While in the past, pre-New 52 we saw a lot of animosity between these two characters, I like to think that Tim is bold enough and mature enough and has shared at least some of Jason’s frustrations that, as we saw in this scene in “Red Hood And The Outlaws,” Tim is the one who gets it. He gets that it’s hard to be beaten to death and come back and try to move on with your life and he has a lot more sensitivity to Jason than any other member of the Bat-family.
As you said yourself, you’re a writer who does not like to plan years ahead and you prefer to write organically. Because of that, with such a huge event like “Death Of The Family” making an impact on the books, how do go about dealing with the changes to status quo and the characters?
When a story like this takes such a major sledgehammer to these characters, I don’t have any other choice but to pick up the pieces and essentially come up with something new. Part of the fun of writing organically is if the story brings you to a dead end, you have to figure out how to scale the building or how to dig a ditch or how to break into a window, how to hide in the dumpster long enough for the sanitation department to come pull you out of this dark alley, I think, to be totally, one hundred percent honest, when you see what happens as a result of “Death Of The Family,” it is so shocking that I kind of feel I wrote myself into such a corner with Tim and Jason that there’s no way to let myself off the hook moving forward. I have to say, one of the things I love about the New 52, aside from the new-ness, is the boldness with which the company is supporting and encouraging this idea of “let’s shatter the mold of crossovers.” I think all of us have heard the quote, “When this is over, things will never be the same!” I think that was Shakespeare too, I’m not sure. [Laughs] But moving forward, this really is a crossover that changes everything.
You’re working with Brett Booth on “Teen Titans” and Timothy Green II on “Red Hood.” What do you like about the way Brett and Timothy interpret the Joker and interpret the event?
I think Brett, whose art can be considered energetic and chaotic in the best way, to have a character like the Joker has really liberated him to play issue #15 and #16 to what I think are his strengths in a way that people aren’t used to seeing. I think he’s traditionally considered a superhero artist, and in these two issues, it’s much more of a horror story that is taking place. It’s really exciting to see Brett drawing the Titans as a horror thing, and I think he does an amazing job at it.
Timothy — sadly enough, the Joker is in a position where he’s pulling strings so we don’t get to see much of the Joker as much as we see the results of what the Joker is doing. I think he has totally drawn a story that is creepier than the in-your-face Joker story Brett has illustrated.
Finally, is there anything you want to say directly to the fans about the event or anything that’s coming up with the two books?
I think I want to say we are here just to entertain, and “If we shadows have offended…”[Laughs]
I’m just kidding, there is so much offense taking place, but you’ll have to blame the Joker and leave me untainted by the madness. But I promise you moving forward there’ll be a lot of offense! [Laughs]
“Red Hood And The Outlaws” #15 hits stores December 19; “Teen Titans” #15 is out January 2.