It was inevitable, really. Jason Todd has finally gotten sick and tired of playing Full House with his Bat Family and is embracing the violence within. Okay, maybe Batman beating him like a government mule also had something to do with it. (After such a whaling, we don't think that anyone would be thinking straight.)
In the case of the Red Hood, his return to his old ways has been on the cards for a while now. He was relatively happy, had Bruce's approval and trust, friends to count on – from a narrative perspective, things were getting boring for him. So when he shot the Penguin in the head and set off a chain of events leading to his and Batman's one-on-one fight, he proved what we've all suspected for a long time now: Jason Todd is DC's Punisher.
In December 2017, Red Hood and the Outlaws writer Scott Lobdell hinted that the character might be irredeemable, and "Jason’s redemption will probably take forever."
Additionally, Lobdell said he understood why people make the link between Jason and the Punisher. "I agree to an extent that he should be more violent – more on that in a moment. But I don’t think he should be the Punisher, because there is already a Punisher," he said. "I always got the impression that the Punisher might track down a crime lord and make his way through three dozen bodyguards in the crime lord’s mansion – killing every one of them – and then the crime lord himself. I think Jason should only kill when he doesn’t have other options. I think he should probably only kill when his life (or that of another person) is in imminent danger."
Lobdell has proven true to his word in Red Hood and the Outlaws #26. With a new costume, new weapons and a bad attitude, the Red Hood kicks it up a notch in his protection of a new character in his life, FBI Special Agent Melissa Mitchell. This time, however, he's more brutal than he's ever been. Heck, his choice of aggression would've even made Frank Castle blush a little. (He shoves a flare up a dude's butt, for heaven's sake!)
Despite Lobdell's statement to the contrary, drawing comparisons between Jason and Frank isn't too hard, here. Both men lost faith in the system and took fate into their own hands; they feel pain and anger for the world around them, and retaliate in the most hostile manner possible. Their chosen path ends up being a lonely one, as many of their friends and allies disagree with their methods. For the readers, though, it's nonstop action, like a comic book version of a Van Damme movie. You can't take your eyes off the pages, no matter how bloody it gets.
While it's too early to tell if Jason's violent tendencies will last, it's certainly rejuvenated DC's antihero and pumped some excitement into his story arc. He's a damaged soul, someone who will never be a good soldier like the other Robins, so there's no point in insisting that he is. Make no mistake, he's tried to be everything Bruce wanted him to be, but it never quite worked out. It simply might be too late for him.
For now, Jason's brand of justice in Red Hood and the Outlaws is served bloody and cold.