COMING OF RAGE
Jason Todd has just turned thirteen his first night as Robin, and it’s the best day of his life.
All those months training in the Cave had prepared him, but nothing had really PREPARED him. The way the wind whips in his hair, the easy grace of his body, the feeling of FLYING. It’s amazing. It’s the most incredible thing he’s ever felt.
He would have thought he’d be scared when Two-Face takes him hostage. But he’s not. Later, he’ll feel it – he’ll feel EVERYTHING, the fear, the exhilaration, the exhaustion, and, when he learns the truth about his father, the rage. But right now, he’s just… there. In the moment, right where he should be. He does everything right, and it’s magic. Being Robin GIVES him magic.
Jason Todd is thirteen, and he’s never felt so alive.
Jason Todd is fourteen when it first starts to unravel.
It starts small, as these things often do. Little moments of doubt, seeds of discord. Fighting with Batman. Disobeying orders. And always, always living in the shadow of Dick. But mostly it’s…
… it’s that he’s starting to wonder if any of this is actually HELPING.
Really, what are they even DOING? Most days, it seems like Arkham has a revolving door. The dress-ups and gimmicks go in, and then they’re back out the next week. Meanwhile, the real dirtbags on the street don’t even get caught half the time, and even when they do, there’s another one to take his place. It’s such bullcrap. Jason thought Batman and Robin were supposed to make a DIFFERENCE. But even Batman…
He wants to put his faith in Batman. He really does. As much as Jason had always doubted himself, he used to really believe in him. Bruce wasn’t always a great father, but at least Batman MEANT something. But after everything Deacon Blackfire… after seeing him that broken… Jason’s come to realize that Batman is just a man.
Jason Todd is fourteen, and he’s not sure he believes anymore.
Jason Todd is fifteen when he dies.
April 27th. Just a little under four months to his birthday. He’d been looking forward to it, once. He’d always loved cars – the speed, the thrill, the FREEDOM. But by this point, honestly, he’s almost forgotten about the whole thing.
So much has happened up to now. Superman and the Black Mercy. Judy Koslosky and the Dumpster Killer. Gloria and Felipe. The women he’d thought to be his mother – Catherine Todd, Sharmin Rosen, Sandra Wu-San, Sheila Haywood.
The funny thing was… he’d thought for a little while there, that he might give it all up. He’d had so many doubts, after all that he’d seen. His faith had been so deeply shaken. And he thought he’d finally found his mother. He thought maybe he’d leave, at least just for a little while, get his head screwed on straight.
But he guesses that just wasn’t to be.
Jason Todd is fifteen, and he was supposed to have his whole life ahead of him.
In a way, he still does.
Jason Todd is sixteen, and everything is fire.
His second life begins in agony, in a coffin sinking in burning liquid, the twisted labor pangs of a mockery of a rebirth marked with blood and screaming. His body is new and whole and WRONG, and all he can do is fight and run.
They had meant to put him in earlier, apparently. Not now, several months after his death, not with a damaged body half-preserved and a last-ditch attempt no one had even been certain would work. But there had been complications, and preparations, and a million other things that Talia had explained to him which he couldn’t begin to care about.
He was supposed to be a GIFT to Batman? A means to put right what Ra’s had wronged? Screw that. Screw all of that. The Pit has given him clarity, brought focus to his doubts, stoked his once-unfocused rage and brought it to a point. Batman doesn’t deserve any of that. His so-called FATHER doesn’t deserve any of that. Not while the Joker still breathes.
Jason Todd is sixteen. And he’s going to make Bruce curse the day he ever came back.
Jason Todd is seventeen, and his training has been going well.
It’s been hard. The training, sure, but more than that, the WAITING. He’s never been the patient sort. Never been the type to bide his time. But he has Talia to ground him, to make sure he’s ready. And he has so, so much to learn.
Poisons. Guns. Fighting.
That last part, he’d picked up on his own. Oh, he’s learned how to do it BETTER, but it’s so much easier than Batman had ever wanted him to realize. A little poison in Egon’s drink at the right time, and dozens of children freed from a life too horrible to contemplate. A little poison in Egon’s drink, and now he’d never hurt anyone again.
And there had been plenty more since then. Must have been half of his instructors, at least. Sometimes, Jason wonders if Talia’s doing this on purpose, but then he decides he doesn’t care. He’s making more of a difference even with just this than he ever did as Robin.
Jason Todd is seventeen, and he’s just getting started.
Jason Todd is eighteen, and he’s more than ready now.
He’s BEEN more than ready, for a long time now. It’s Talia, he’s finally realized. She doesn’t want him to kill Bruce. She loves him too much.
Sometimes, Jason almost feels the same way. He doesn’t… he SHOULDN’T be feeling any of this. The Pit had given him focus. The Pit had given him clarity. Where are these DOUBTS coming from? He wants to kill the Joker and kill Bruce. He wants them both to KNOW what he did.
He just doesn’t actually want Bruce to die.
He just wants to see him again. Just look him in the eyes and ask him WHY.
He wants it to be okay again. He wants to HURT him, hurt him worse than he’d ever hurt Jason. He wants to go home. He wants to burn everything to the ground.
He doesn’t. He doesn’t know what he wants. Everything is twisted, tangled and knotted and HURTING, and he just wants it to STOP.
He just wants it to stop.
Jason Todd is eighteen, and Talia thinks he’s ready now. He’s not sure he is. But he’s never been the patient sort.
Jason Todd is nineteen, and the helmet fits like a second skin.
Boots, gloves. Body armor, jacket. Guns. Knife. A whole arsenal at his fingertips, ready for the task at hand. Will it be enough to beat him? Who knows. But it’ll be enough to SHOW him.
He knows what he has to do now. How to save Gotham, how to bring it all together. A plan and a demonstration. He’ll be a better Batman than Bruce ever was. And then once he’s seen… Jason will bring them together. The three of them, like it was always meant to be. He’ll make his choice, and then…
Well, at least it’ll be over then. No matter what else happens.
Jason Todd has just turned nineteen his first night as the Red Hood, and he has long days ahead.