Through reading various websites and comics, I've come to the realization that Judd Winick has a big old character crush on Jason Todd. I don't think he's wrong to have one, mind you, I just think he should be a bit less obvious about it. I can't think of a recent storyline involving Jason Todd that he didn't have some sort of hand in.
Batman and Robin #23 marks the start of the latest three-issue arc, written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Guillem March and Andrei Bresson. The issue opens with a scene introducing Jason Todd along side Nightwing in his disco-wing costume, and Batman in his standard costume. The narration is a back and forth between Dick and Bruce, analyzing Jason as Robin. We move forward to today, where Jason is locked up in Arkham, and talking to Bruce about being back from the dead.
Jason describes his voyage back, while Bruce thinks about how no one knows who Jason really is. Understandably, it wouldn't look quite right if Bruce Wayne's deceased ward turned out to be Red Hood. There are some snicker-worthy lines but ultimately it comes out that Jason wants to be transferred to a traditional correctional facility, rather than Batman's "kennel of freaks."
Bruce warns Dick and Damian that this is likely a plan on Jason's behalf, cautioning them that by the time they have any idea what he's up to, it will already be too late.
Jason manages to get his transfer to Gotham City Corrections, and is in the shower when he's approached by several inmates. Immediately, he recognizes one and admits he killed his brother. The inmate threatens him, to which Jason says that death didn't do anything but slow him down.
Later, on the cell block, the inmate is discovered to have hung himself in his cell. In the yard, Jason sits reading quietly, while two more inmates attempt to put a shiv in him. As calm as anything, and looking like he enjoys it more than a little bit, Jason plays the two inmates off each other and watches as one stabs the other.
The next panels show more inmates dead, apparently by their own hands. Everyone is anxious to see Jason dead, especially with the amount of money on his head. Outside the correctional facility, Batman rounds up a gang who are supposed to have a truce, barring them from coming this far north. The truce was voided when their leader hung himself in prison, the very same prison Jason Todd is in. Batman is on the communicator to the prison, demanding to know why he wasn't informed of these unusual incidents.
The head of the prison explains it wasn't considered unusual until now. There are 82 dead and over a hundred sick because somehow the food was poisoned. Batman announces he's on his way but the warden says he's already out of the prison, en route to Arkham. Jason grins as he heads back, wondering what those people expected him to do in a place filled with criminals who deserved the fate they got. He resigns himself to going back to Arkham, but just as he does, the convoy is attacked. His rescuers turn out to be a group of human/animal hybrids but Jason decides it works for him.
I'll admit my somewhat shameful secret now. I really like the way Judd Winick writes Jason Todd. I'm not sure how I feel about the rest of the writing, but I really feel good about his Jason Todd voice. There were some good zingers, including the equivalent of "tell Damian I hooked up with his mother. Giggity." We're always told the Lazarus Pit changes people when it brings them back and it seems to me this is one of the first time I've seen hard evidence of this. Jason admits, about halfway through the book, that he's not psychotic, he's just homicidal. I'm actually excited about the rest of this story arc.
This brings me to the art. I will just say, it's nice to know that Guillem March knows how to draw beefcake as well as cheesecake. I'm a little confused as to why Jason is a redhead now, as I distinctly remember the black hair with the white patch in Countdown to Infinite Crisis and in the very recent Red Hood: Lost Days mini-series. I enjoyed March's art more than Bresson's, but I think they're both more than competent. Especially enjoyable was JG Jones' variant cover for the issue.
Batman and Robin #23:
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman