Was the Joker's Brutal Murder of Jason Todd Cut From Dark Knight Returns?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and fifty-first installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I'll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!


Frank Miller was forced to pull the Joker's brutal murder of Jason Todd in the Dark Knight Returns


I'm Going With False

In the first issue of Batman: The Dark Knight (by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley), now best known by the title of that first book, The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce Wayne and James Gordon meet up and a bleak reference is made to Jason Todd...

Later, when Carrie Kelley rescues Batman's life, she takes him to the Bat Cave and we see that there is a tribute to a dead Robin there...

It's made pretty clear that it is, in fact, Jason, due to Alfred referencing Jason's fate when Batman shows that he plans on taking on Carrie as his new Robin...

Later, Batman and the Joker have a final battle and it is not explicitly mentioned that Joker killed Jason...

Reader Jason J. wrote in to ask about a legend he had heard about the original story, " I've heard that originally Frank Miller wantedto go very in-depth with the death of Jason Todd, saying that the Joker butchered him and mailed pieces of his corpse to Batman via Commissioner Gordon."

Well, a few years back, Miller, Brian Azzarello and John Romita Jr. actually DID write how Joker had Jason killed in a one-shot called Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade...

However, it's interesting to note that it was handled a bit subdued even in this modern comic book...

Vaneta Rogers asked Miller about the story for Newsarama, asking if he always knew how Jason died...

Newsarama: Frank, was this story something you always knew, the way this event happened in the DKR universe?

Frank Miller: Well, no. It was meant originally as a hint. And the greater story developed out from that. But I had sketched it out in rough detail.

It had to be absolutely horrible. Anything that would be enough to make Batman do what he did, it has to be pretty severe. He's a pretty tough guy.

But it hadn't been worked out in detail.

So, two things stand out there.

1. It sure doesn't sound like Miller was forced to remove the plot point from Dark Knight Returns, right?


2. Since Jason's death in The Last Crusade does not match the whole "mailing pieces of him in the mail" bit and Miller says that he had a rough idea of how Jason was going to die and this was that, then it sure seems to me that there's enough here to conclude that no, Miller never had a plot in the original series where Jason Todd was butchered by the Joker and mailed to the Commissioner that was pulled from the story.

So I'm willing to go with a "false" here.

Thanks for the suggestion, Jason, and thanks to Vaneta and Frank Miller for the information!


Check out some other legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Did Heath Ledger’s Tragic Death Ruin Plans for the Joker to Appear in The Dark Knight Rises?

2. Did Batman Actually Kill Anyone in The Dark Knight Returns?

3. Was Vicki Vale Going to Die Originally at the End of Tim Burton’ Batman?

4. What is the Secret Behind Little House on the Prairie’s “Baby Battering Ram”?_______________________________________________________________________________

Check back soon for part 2 of this installment's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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