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Joker's Grisliest Murder Divided Batman Fans - But A New Story Might Change Everything

DC Comics is imagining a world where Jason Todd survives his deadly encounter with the Joker while showcasing the path he could have taken as Robin instead of eventually becoming the Red Hood.

In 1988's "Batman" #428 (by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy, and John Costanza), DC Comics left Todd's fate in the hands of readers. The publisher opened a 1-800 number where fans cast their vote on whether Todd, a Robin who wasn't well-received at the time, would live or die after fighting the Joker. Voters decided to kill Todd, leading to the character being sidelined for years before he returned as the vengeful Red Hood — a role he has in the present day. As Red Hood, Todd takes a more deadly approach to being a vigilante, putting him in direct conflict with Batman, who he sees as failing him in letting him die in the first place.

In December 2023, DC published the previously unseen alternate story where Todd lives, which would have been released if he'd survived the fan vote. In the "Faux-Simile" issue, Jason doesn't die but instead falls into a coma after Joker's explosive attack as Batman tracks down the Clown Prince of Crime. Now, a new miniseries, "From the DC Vault: Death in the Family: Robin Lives" #1 (by J.M. DeMatteis and Rick Leonardi), will show Todd getting revenge against the Joker and tell a new story of Robin's life after the near-death encounter.

Jason Todd is coming after the Joker

In preview pages for "From the DC Vault: Death in the Family: Robin Lives!" #1, readers see Jason Todd in action as Robin against Scarecrow before the hero is brutally beaten by the Joker — which remains one of the worst things the villain has ever done. However, instead of dying and later being resurrected in a Lazarus Pit by the League of Assassins, Todd is seen in the hospital, waking up terrified by the encounter. He harbors significant trauma from his near-death experience, which will drive him to take on the Joker in the miniseries.

J.M DeMatteis said the comic will explore the psyche of the heroes and that he's excited to tell the alternate story: "Continuing this classic, and controversial, story and following in the footsteps of Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo, two creators I greatly admire, has been both a challenge and a joy," he stated in a press release. "This is a great opportunity to tell a story that's big on action but also takes a very deep dive into the heads of our main characters as we ponder what would have happened if Jason Todd had survived The Joker's brutal attack. And having a master like Rick Leonardi bringing it to life visually? I couldn't ask for anything more."

The Jason Todd story is coming soon

Artist Rick Leonardi said in the press release the four-issue miniseries will show whether readers made the right choice in their decision to kill Robin: "I'm hoping this series will give readers a look down the path not chosen; a glimpse of the alternative to the original fallout from 'Batman' #428. After people read it, maybe this choice made back in the day will seem vindicated, or maybe we'll see that it was a poor choice after all." 

Check out Leonardi's cover art for "From the DC Vault: Death in the Family: Robin Lives!" #1, featuring Batman holding Joker's body with Todd's Robin looking on. Meanwhile, "Hellboy" creator Mike Mignola draws a variant cover in his signature style, showing Robin emerging from the shadows with Batman and the Joker looking on.

For fans wanting to see if Todd's Robin would have gone down a much darker path if he'd lived in the original "Batman" #428 story, the new miniseries will finally reveal his future in a world where he never died in the first place. Readers can follow Jason Todd's alternate journey and what happens to his dynamic with Batman and Joker when "From the DC Vault: Death in the Family: Robin Lives!" #1 by DC Comics arrives in comic book stores and online retailers on July 10, 2024. 

To read more about Jason Todd, check out the untold truth of Red Hood.