Welcome to the five hundred and thirty-ninth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, was DC Comics going to kill Jason Todd regardless of the 1-900 results? If Jason Todd WASN’T killed, what was his destiny in the Bat-books? Plus, learn which X-Men figure was used to make the very first Lara Croft action figure!
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: DC was planning on killing Jason Todd regardless of what the result was of the 1-900 poll.
DC Comics made history with 1988’s Batman #427 (by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo). In the issue, Jason Todd is betrayed by his own mother to the Joker, who savagely beats the young hero with a crowbar…
The villain then locks Jason and his mother up in a warehouse with a bomb…
At the end of the issue, there was an ad for a pair of 1-900 numbers where people could vote as to whether Jason survived the explosion or not…
Amusingly enough, they were not allowed to specifically use the word “call this number for his death,” notice how they used a roundabout way to say death.
The next issue, sadly, Jason was shown to have died (the vote was very narrow, less than a hundred votes separated him from life and death)…
Anyhow, when I featured this story in our countdown of the 75 Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, commenter M-Wolverine wrote in to note:
I think the biggest think Death had going against it was the whole “vote” thing, but I truly believe that they would have fixed the vote no matter what, because they wanted Robin dead as an event. I mean, have the pages where he’s been beaten but lived ever leaked? Hard to believe they never game up with an Elseworld’s book with those later so they could basically sell the same story again with an expensive treatment….unless they didn’t exist.
His comment inspired this legend, but it’s a common belief. After all, writer Jim Starlin was famously anti-Robin. He wanted to kill off Robin for quite a while. I mean, for crying out loud, he wanted to give Robin AIDS!!!
So it is reasonable to believe that DC was intent on killing Jason no matter what.
Denny O’Neil insists otherwise and he does have the page to prove it, as there would only be a single page difference between the two Batman #428s (the timing of the release of the issue did not give them a whole lot of time to make changes) and the original Aparo/DeCarlo page went unused for years until Batman Annual #25 (where Superboy Prime punched reality to bring Jason back to life), a year AFTER Aparo died…
Les Daniels also posted the panel in his last book about DC Comics history…
Paul Levitz also noted in the behind-the-scenes feature on the DVD Batman: Under the Red Hood:
We didn’t have a bias as to whether Jason would live or die, but I think a lot of the creative people weren’t disappointed that he got to get killed.
So no, Jason was not always going to die. However, that doesn’t mean that things would have worked out for him had he not died, which we’ll detail in a legend on the next page…
Thanks to M-Wolverine for the inadvertent suggestion!
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from this week at Legends Revealed:
Did a TV Writer Once Get a Parking Spot for His Pseudonym?
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