The following contains spoilers for Red Hood & the Outlaws #24, written by Scott Lobdell, drawn by Dexter Soy and Alisson Borges, colored by Veronica Gandini, and lettered by Taylor Esposito.
Recent events in Red Hood and the Outlaws has pushed Jason Todd and his allies to their limits, and it seems they’re well and truly breaking. Bizarro has apparently gone rogue, ready to blow up a portion of Gotham, while Artemis is at her wit’s end trying to save the clone’s soul. However, as she calls for backup, Jason’s sealing his own fate and it’s a murderous one at that.
After finding out Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin had a hand in his father’s (Willis Todd) demise, the former Robin sets out for revenge — revenge he achieves when he shoots the villain in his face, seemingly killing him. But there seems to be a greater price to pay than Jason selling out his humanity. In the fracas, Jason makes a second rash decision by taking off his Red Hood mask, and in doing so, he may have let the world know the true identity of the Batman.
Issue #24 focuses on Jason attacking Penguin as he’s opening up a theme park, the Ice Patch, in Gotham. He uses bombs to scare everyone away, then deploys a smoke grenade to isolate and trap Penguin. There, he reveals he wants to avenge Willis, an ex-drug dealer who actually ran afoul of Batman in the past, because no matter what, he’s his blood and deserves justice. Penguin laughs it off, admitting he doesn’t even remember Willis, but in their conversation, Jason wants his victim to look him in the eye and know it’s a Todd who’s about to kill him.
Penguin, knowing Red Hood is a vigilante who as of late isn’t willing to cross the line in public, taunts him as he takes his mask off. With the helmet removed and Jason’s identity out in the open, the villain calls it a stupid move because Jason, by association, has apparently given him the identity of Batman.
Penguin doesn’t say it out loud, but he’s insinuating he’s deduced Batman’s identity, though this could be a bluff to prevent his death. But given how Jason has been seen alongside Bruce numerous times in the past, as someone the billionaire took in as a son, it’s not far-fetched for Penguin to assume he trained under Bruce as the Caped Crusader, another man who lost his father to crime.
Nonetheless, Jason ends up shooting Penguin and flees, which brings an enraged Batman into play as he’ll surely want to reel him in before the cops do, as well as his other proteges who are already furious with what’s happened. But apart from Penguin seemingly figuring out this huge piece of information on the Bat-family thanks to Jason’s selfish actions, there’s another, even larger issue at hand.
The execution was transmitted on live television. In addition to the possibility of audio making out on the airwaves, there’s a chance that despite his smokescreen, someone might have caught a glimpse of Jason unmasked, gloating over the criminal’s scared body.
Either way, Jason gambled big time and he’s got to be praying no one saw his face apart from his target. If Cobbelpot ends up surviving, there’ll be an even bigger mess to clean up, because a villain knowing the Dark Knight’s identity, as history has dictated, often leads to deadly consequences. Red Hood may have gotten some closure for his father’s death, but in doing so, he just put another father-figure in a lot of danger.
Things will be taking a dark turn for Jason soon as Batman hunts him. Bizarro and Artemis will no longer be by his side, and Issue #26 will also see Jason abandon Gotham City and don a new costume, with the Dark Knight no longer serving as his mentor. It seems he’s in the process of shifting from vigilante to villain, and in the process is damaging a lot of what Bruce Wayne has dedicated his life to creating.
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