Newsarama recently posted a Top Ten list of comic book deaths that mattered. You can check out that link. On the list include a number of deaths that incensed fans, including Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, who was stuffed in Kyle’s fridge in order to create angst and whose death spawned the ‘women in refrigerators’ trope, is listed, as well as is Stephanie Brown’s death*, which angered many fans as she was fridged to create angst for Tim Drake and Batman. (*Stephanie’s death was later retconned). These rightly deserve to be on the list, given the controversy they caused and how they were handled.
The list also has fellow sidekick, Bucky Barnes, on it, at no. 4. Interestingly, a well-known comic fan saying used to be, “The dead don’t stay dead in comics, except Bucky Barnes, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben.” As we know, both Bucky and Jason have returned from the grave.
It’s a little surprising not to see Jason’s name on the list. His death incensed not just fans, but also audiences outside of comics who learned that Robin had been killed in the comics. It even had fellow comic writer Frank Miller call the vote on his death the ‘ugliest and most cynical’ thing he’s seen in comics and mainstream newspapers had editorials decrying the vote and his death. Editor Len Wein called it a mistake and editor Denny O’Neil said the impact of the backlash changed his mind about what he was doing for a living. Fans wrote in many letters to the editor about his death, and one pastor even wrote a eulogy to Jason. The recent animated movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood, which deals with Jason’s death and resurrection, raked in more than $6.6 million in sales, making it the 5th highest grossing seller in DC’s direct-to-video animated movie line.
In the comics, Jason’s death/Robin suit is memorialized in a glass case (which is prone to being smashed). *Notably, the fact that Jason received a memorial, and Stephanie Brown, the only Girl Wonder, did not in light of her death, was a major controversy as it showed sexism in her not being treated the same as a male Robin who died.* He is constantly mentioned as a warning to others, as well as Bruce not only grieves over him for many years throughout the comics, but sees him in drug induced hallucinations or impersonations. Other characters, including Tim Drake, Alfred Pennyworth and Dick Grayson, see Jason as a ghost or hallucination figure as well during this time. His death made no. 8 in CBR’s Top 75 most memorable moments in comics. The weapon used in Jason’s death, the Crowbar, has had its own Comic Vine page, and its own iconic status.
In both the comic, Under the Hood, and the animated movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Jason’s death at the hands of the Joker continues to matter as it is the reason for the main conflict between Jason and Bruce, a conflict that continues in comics today because Jason feels that Bruce let the Joker get away with murdering him and did not avenge his death.
It’s no secret that many fans dislike the character, dislike the way he was brought back and feel that because he was brought back from the dead, that lessens the impact of his death or feel that because they believe he is inconsistently characterized by writers other than Judd Winick that lessens the impact of his death. However, the history and impact of Jason’s death did and still does matter. It’s too bad this Newsarama Top Ten did not reflect that.
Bucky and Jason by Todd Nauck
I really thought he’d gained some popularity over the last year or so.
Honestly, I just get so annoyed by this bullshit. You cannot actually look at the history of comics in the DCU without acknowledging Jason as Robin’s death or even noting it. The vote itself was the only time anything like that had ever happened. It’s a major factor to the Batman mythology in comics still. Jason’s death is as important to the Batman mythology as the death of Bruce’s parents and that ranked as no. 1. Sorry, Superman fans, Jor-El and Lara, but Jason’s death should be in your spot.
I am so tired of anything regarding Jason (whether he was a good Robin, whether he was actually Bruce’s son, whether he has skills, whether he is smart, whether his death actually even matters anymore) being judged on bias, misconceptions and perception rather than the actual comics and history.
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