I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
So, Jason Todd is probably my favorite Robin. Ex-Robin. He's also currently the Red Hood. I mean, yeah, I know he was considered so whiny and annoying that fans voted to kill him off, but oddly enough that storyline is what makes me love him. There was something about that brutality, and his hanging in there, that made me see him as even more of an underdog than he was before. And I kinda fell in character-crush mode.
So, here's the odd thing. I probably wouldn't have cared about Todd if people hadn't voted to kill him. And I can't fully explain why that draws him to me so much. I just can't. I do love a brutal story, and this was... well, one of the most brutal I've read. You'd think it'd be splatterpunk or torture porn or something, but no. It's Death of the Family: nothing has managed to outdo the nihilism of Todd's mother taking a fucking cigarette break while her son was being beaten to death by the joker.
Yeah, that clearly stuck with me. Which is probably when I fell into this character crush rabbit hole. The only reason I don't subscribe to this series, and in fact read this on Hoopla, a digital reader for libraries, is that Lobdell writes this. Lobdell has a couple jokes that I really liked, and the main storyline of Todd trying to break into the Black Mask's inner circle to take him down from within was interesting, especially with the twist of Artermis and Bizarro showing up. I also didn't expect Black Mask to be as knowledgable as he was, which turned into some trouble near the end.
But Lobdell isn't as intellectual a writer as I normally like, and I assumed this would be passable, if that. I was hoping for a three star read, if not a two and a half star read. Instead, Lobdell nicely balanced the past, when Todd was starting out with Robin, with the present, and he had a payload of a present scene between Todd and Batman that made me 'awww.'
The past bolstered Todd's current feelings of inadequacy: that he wasn't, and would never be, what Bruce Wayne/Batman/his mention and father figure wanted him to be. Which all fed into a lot of external tensions as well as internal pressures. This was the main focus as the story progressed, although Artemis' quest seems set to take precedence in the next volume. (Possibly Bizarro next up, but he didn't seem to have as much going on as the other two did, to be honest. I'm least interested in his story so I'm hoping it'll swing back to The Red Hood.)
The art was amazing: slick, tight, and it tended to veer towards dark colors. Given the history with the main character, and given the general tone of this comic - as well as the plot - this was the perfect decision. Batman can get lighter, color wise, but a lot of Batman is dark colors, and this fits the character, tone, and plot of most of his stories, too. (I'd say home is where I can most distinctly remember the brighter colors, although there have been some daylight jaunts. Batman tends to focus on the Bat rather than the man, though, and he tends to work mostly at night. And I don't mean that there isn't a bunch of Wayne stuff, or how he balances his double lives, but rather that Batman deals with the threats - and sometimes that's what I come for. A lot of times. Most of the time, in fact. I bet other people feel that, too, thus the focus on The Bat.)
Anyway, I enjoyed this much more than I expected too and might pick up these graphic novels in the future.