Jason Todd has had a complex life since becoming the second Robin and fighting crime with Batman. After getting killed by Joker and later being resurrected, Jason's never really known which path he should take in life. He is still inspired by Batman's ideals of fighting crime, but he has a radically different approach to taking on evil.
Since his resurrection, Jason has used the Red Hood identity. Having somewhat come to terms with Batman not avenging his death, he is back in Gotham City and has told Batman about his latest mission--taking down Black Mask's criminal organization from the inside. This mission will eventually lead to teaming up with Bizarro and Artemis (from Themyscira). We spoke with writer Scott Lobdell to find out more about the new Red Hood and the Outlaws series.
Comic Vine: How has Jason changed since the last series?
Scott Lobdell: In the first series, it was about him having been comfortable with Roy [Harper] and Kori [Starfire] from the first page of the series. It was kind of an about-face from "Jason was an angry loner," which he had been prior to Red Hood and the Outlaws [Volume 1]. With Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth #1, we find that Jason is a little more skittish. He's tried friendships and it turns out he's probably not very good at it. Just as he's into that realization, he winds up meeting Artemis and Bizarro. Meeting Artemis and Bizarro under any circumstance is going to be a little odd, but the fact that these two ultimately start to challenge him in terms of even the way he views friendships and teammates is going to give us yet another new take on Jason and how he relates to other people.
It's interesting to me that there was Red Hood and the Outlaws, then there was Red Hood/Arsenal, and now there's a new Red Hood and the Outlaws. While the membership and the pairing has changed over time, the truth is that even if the series had been an ongoing one for the last five years or six years, it would be my inclination to change up the dynamics as a matter of course. We're treating this as a Rebirth but also the third volume in the story of Jason and how he relates to the people around him who aren't Bats or Bat-family members. I think it's been really fun to write and exciting to see him grow as a character.
Even though they're not brought in right away, can you tell us how Artemis and Bizarro became part of the series? Did editorial suggest them, or did you say, "Hey, I want to use these characters"?
Originally they said, "We're doing Red Hood and the Outlaws. Who do you want to be in it?" I said, "I want Gorilla Grodd. I want a handful of other characters," and they were like, "Okay. Thanks." Then they called back a little later and they said, "Okay, we have Blackfire and Steel and another character. What do you think of that?" I said, "Well, there's certainly ways to examine that." Then I got called in and I sat down with the wizard of comic book writers, Geoff [Johns], and he said, "What do you think about if instead of those characters, we use Artemis?" I'm like, "Holy moley!" I would never ask for Artemis in a million years. I wouldn't think that they would even think to give her to me. Then he said, "And what do you think about Bizarro?" I'm like, "Oh my God!" I could not have been any more excited at the thought of either of these two characters.
Then the conversation went on. It kind of grew into, "Okay, if these are the Outlaws, what makes them different from the previous versions?" Right away it was the notion that this was really ... We're calling it a Dark Trinity, but I don't know if dark is necessarily the right word. These are three characters who reflect Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, but more in a house of mirrors kind of way. They reflect them, but they reflect sometimes the best qualities and sometimes the things that make them the most dangerous. I championed to call the series Dark Funhouse Mirror Reflections Trinity, but I was alone in my love for the title, so we settled on Red Hood and the Outlaws again.
There are some flashbacks with Jason when he was Robin with Batman. How much of that past will you explore? Will we see more flashbacks throughout?
Not only will we be seeing Jason's flashbacks, by the time this comes out everyone will have seen arguably the most unexpected flashback in the history of I think the Bat-verse. It's key to Jason's character, both in the past and present, but we'll also be seeing Artemis having flashbacks to the key moments in her life, that took her from a young warrior woman in Egypt. She always believed that she was destined to lead her people, and then at one point she discovered that her people were already being led by Diana, as Wonder Woman. It kind of threw her for a loop when the Egyptian Amazons got integrated by Wonder Woman's tribe.
We'll also be seeing Bizarro's flashbacks, which are really fun, in the sense that the Bizarro that we meet in our series has never existed before. He's not square-planet Bizarro. He's a brand-new Bizarro, and we'll discover that there are memories locked away in his genes that provide a twisted version of Superman's own memories.
Since Jason's in Gotham, is Batman going to play a part in the series? Is he going to pop in and out, or are you going to keep the focus on Jason, Artemis, and Bizarro?
I think there's an awareness of Batman all the time, but I think that's true of probably everyone that lives in Gotham. Either you're hoping he's there when you walk down the street at night, somewhere in the shadows, or you're hoping that he's not as you're one of the people in the shadows, ready to jump out at somebody. I think just by the fact that you live in Gotham, there is a presence of Batman. As of this writing, there is not a plan to have Batman appear in the series other than in Jason's memories of his time as Robin and some of his earlier encounters as Red Hood. I think the way the series has been set up, where Jason has gone deep undercover, kind of prevents the idea that Batman and Jason are going to be meeting at Starbucks and exchanging notes.
One of the things that I enjoyed in your previous volumes is that you really looked at Jason struggling with his relationship with Batman. Is that something that he's still trying to sort out--his emotions with their time together, the feeling of betrayal? Has he comes to terms with where they're at now?
I think he has. It's funny that you've mentioned the betrayal part. I think that with any relationship that boyfriends and girlfriends can break up and marriages can end in divorce, but your father is your father and your son is your son. That's how it's going to be for the rest of your life. I think as Jason's relationship with Bruce continues, there are going to be different roadblocks and different off-ramps and on-ramps where he is going to. While he may have come to terms with his disappointment over Batman moving on after his death. I think what we see in the Rebirth issue is this notion that "Okay, that part of our relationship is in the past. How are we going to move forward, and how are you going to trust me if you're going to keep mentally keeping track of all my sins and all my mistakes before this?"
I think the good thing about this relationship is that it's complex. I think it will remain complex always, because as time goes on, different things come up. I think there may come a time, many, many years and many, many writers from now, when Jason has a son, and then he'll be trying to teach his son things. That dynamic of how he was raised by Bruce and what are Bruce's expectations of him as a son, who's now a father, will change as time goes on. I do think that there'll be a lot of awareness of the dynamic between the two of them, but I do think that that part of the relationship has grown by this point.
Is there anything you can tease that might surprise readers, without giving anything away, anything major?
I read a lot about people's concern about having Bizarro on the team. I'll see, "I get Artemis, I get Red Hood, but Bizarro, I don't see how that works," which kind of mirrors exactly when the first Red Hood and the Outlaws came out. Everybody's big concern was, how does a walking supernova like Kori exist with these two yahoos? Similarly, with this version of Bizarro, I'm making an effort to present a Bizarro that is bizarre and not stupid. He's not childlike and not naïve, but bizarre. He thinks in the way that Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind thinks. It's not that he doesn't understand the world. It might be that he sees more of the world than you and I will ever comprehend, because he has a different viewpoint than anyone else. I think that while there will be elements of "me am Bizarro" speech factors, fans can be excited to look forward to a different, a bizarre Bizarro.
Here's a preview of Red Hood and the Outlaws #1.
Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth #1 is now on sale. Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 is on sale August 10.