Even without being on panel, we know here that Batman is fighting the Joker. We get our first clue to this because of the toxic gas that is obviously in the room; this cuts down the likely culprits to the Scarecrow’s fear gas or Joker’s ‘laughing’ gas, which reduces its victims to grotesquely smiling corpses. But what seals it is the crowbar reflected in the gas mask’s lens. As the weapon that the Joker used to beat the second Robin (Jason Todd) to death, a raised crowbar has deep significance to longtime Bat readers. Thus, the unseen opponent in the room is known.
Posts tagged “crowbar”
After Dick Grayson left the fold to become Nightwing, Batman was left without a partner. That wouldn’t last long, as he soon came across an angry but extremely gifted juvenile delinquent named Jason Todd.
As the second Robin, Jason was violent, unmerciful and allowed people to die. Although Batman tried to reel in his tendencies, Jason soon became a very unpopular character, prompting DC Comics to conduct a nationwide poll on his fate. The people spoke, and in the infamous ‘A Death in the Family’ story arc, the Joker bludgeoned Jason Todd to death with a crowbar before Batman could save him.
Much like the obsessive, irrational guilt he holds over being unable to prevent his parents’ death, Batman also punishes himself for Jason Todd’s death. Soon after he took on Tim Drake as the third Robin, he erected the now-familiar glass memorial to Jason’s memory to ensure he never forgot his greatest failure.
The significance of Jason Todd’s glass case would eventually have gone the way of the giant penny and robot dinosaur except that in 2003, Jason was brought back to life by the ridiculous “Superboy-Prime Reality Punch”. In retroactive continuity, Jason now inexplicably clawed his way out of his grave shortly after his death to be nursed back to health by Talia, daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul. He has returned to plague the Bat family in a number of guises, first as an adult Robin, then as an evil Nightwing, then as the murderous Red Robin, then as a gun-toting stand-in for the recently killed (Omega Sanctioned) Batman, and currently as the new Red Hood, the original alter ego of the Joker. In all his versions, he sees himself as a more effective Batman, using lethal force to succeed where his mentor failed.
Update: His return in the comics has coincided with the release of the excellent animated film: Under the Red Hood, which recounts Batman’s reaction to his return: