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Exclusive Interview: James Tynion IV Reveals Jason Todd's Role During Zero Year

What was Jason Todd during back when Bruce Wayne was just starting out his career as Batman?

Zero Year is underway in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's BATMAN. It was a little bit of a surprise when it was announced that other issues would be tying into Zero Year. For example, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS doesn't seem like it could have a story set during this time. James Tynion IV is about to prove that idea false.

We had the chance to exclusively find out more from James. Here's the official solicit revealed for the first time:

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On sale NOVEMBER 20 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

A BATMAN: ZERO YEAR tie-in! There’s a dark force of nature that’s forming in Gotham City...A face laughing in the dark that will one day tear Jason Todd’s life apart. What are his plans for the Red Hood Gang? And who else will rise out of the shadows to guide Jason Todd one step closer to his destiny?

Here's what we found out from James.

Comic Vine: Given the time frame, will the issue be split among Jason, Roy and Kori or will there be more of a focus on Jason since the others might not doing much?

James Tynion IV: With the Gotham focus, this really seemed like the perfect place to delve into the history of Jason Todd on his own. This issue takes place roughly six years before the start of the New 52, a little over a year before Batman would encounter the Justice League. At this point even Dick Grayson hasn't met Bruce for the first time. I think Roy Harper is probably out there getting into the kind of repeated trouble that'll ultimately get him locked up, where he catches the attention of Oliver Queen, and Kori is likely still off-planet. So this issue is going to be 100% Jason, cover to cover.

CV: Where does this issue come in compared to the backup you wrote in BATMAN #0 that featured Dick, Jason and Tim?


JT: This would be roughly a year before that BATMAN #0 backup feature, and we're actually going to see the friendship between Jason and Chris (the kid who shot the woman Jason was comforting in that backup), as it's developing. As we saw in #0, Chris represents what Gotham is calling Jason to do... He represents the darker path that Jason is doing his best to avoid walking down... And in our Zero Year issue, we're going to see that dichotomy explored. Jason isn't sure whether or not he's doomed to become what his father and this city expects from him. He's frightened of the deep rage he feels in his heart that sometimes he can't control. He worries that at his core, he's a bad person. This issue will give him a chance to show his true mettle, and make some of the first decisions that will ultimately lead to him becoming Robin.

CV: If this takes place when Bruce is just becoming Batman, does that mean we'll just be seeing Jason during his miserable home life or while he was living on the streets?

JT: This will take place right on the border of those two moments in his life. He's still at home, with his mother, but she's not doing particularly well. His father is absent, making another one of many stops at Blackgate Penitentiary. He's doing his best to cope with all the horrible things life has thrown at him, which have all been thrown into the spotlight during the repercussions of the Zero Year storyline. Jason grew up in Crime Alley. That's never been a particularly nice place to live. Everything has been made much worse after the end of BATMAN #24, and a storm is coming to Gotham that could destroy everything... On top of that, a mysterious figure is going to enter his life in our issue, and she's going to mix him up into some fairly major trouble. Jason's young life was not a happy life, and this issue will dig into the heart of that, and help show us why he is the man he is today.

CV: Will this story just offer some background information on the characters or will it tie into current/future issues?

JT: It's very much a standalone story. If you haven't been following RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, you'll still get a full story that doesn't require any context. However, if you have been following the story, Jason's past - his memory - is the chessboard on which the antagonists of my story have been playing their game. Something that happens right here, in the midst of Zero Year, will ultimately be crucial to the big finale of the Jason Memory-Loss storyline.


CV: Since the Red Hood Gang is playing such a big role in BATMAN Zero Year, any chance of an appearance from them here?

JT: I think that is a very, very fair assumption. The Red Hood Gang is probably my favorite new addition to the Batman Mythos in Zero Year, and once we started talking about doing a tie-in issue, I knew that they would be key to figuring out this moment in Jason's past. Their addition to continuity will give new weight to what it meant when Jason finally became the Red Hood after his death and resurrection. Their position in the city has definitely changed after the events of Batman #24, and this issue could be seen as an epilogue of sorts to that issue, at least as they're concerned. There's a reason the Red Hood Gang hasn't been an ever-present entity in New 52 Continuity between Zero Year and Present Day. If you're curious why, I would definitely pick up this issue.

CV: In the zero issue for RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, we saw Joker possibly was heavily involved with shaping/guiding Jason's life (who knows if you can actually trust a Joker-narrated story). Could we possibly see Joker turn up?

JT: Now, that'd be fun, wouldn't it?

CV: You'll probably have to use any sparingly but what about any other familiar characters showing up?

JT: There are two very familiar, very major figures who will make an appearance apart from the ones discussed above, but they are at the heart of the mystery of the issue... So I guess you'll just have to wait and find out in November. I am incredibly excited about this issue, it's easily my favorite of my run so far. I can't wait for folks to see what we have in store.

Looks like we'll indeed have to wait. RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #25 is on sale November 20.