Almost every single Robin has had some personal tragedy in their life that has defined them, but the biggest tragedy Red Hood ever went through was when Batman was responsible for the death of Jason’s parents. And he’s been getting away with it ever since.
The DC Universe has gone through many changes and reboots over the years, Jason Todd as people know him today is not the same boy that he was when he first appeared in comics. When Jason first appeared in comic books, he was designed to be as close to Dick Grayson as possible. Since Dick had graduated to the Titans and fans were enjoying his adventures, DC wanted a new sidekick for Batman, introducing Jason Todd as a carbon copy of Dick. Jason was a member of the acrobatics group the Flying Todds – a copy of Dick’s backstory with the Flying Graysons. Introducing Jason included copying the fact Dick’s parents were murdered by criminals. Jason’s parents were also killed by a criminal, but one often overlooked detail is that it only happened because of Batman.
Batman Used Jason Todd’s Parents as Spies
This was all seen way back in Batman #358 by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan, Rodin Rodriguez, Adrienne Roy, and Ben Oda. Batman and Robin have been dealing with a mysterious trench coat-clad criminal making moves in the criminal underworld. While trying to get a lead on this character, it turns out that one of Dick Grayson’s new friends, Trina Todd, has personally seen him around the circus. She offers to help Robin catch this mysterious villain, and Dick passes this information onto Batman. After some urging from Robin, Batman agrees to let the Todds act as spies for him. While this is already irresponsible on Batman’s end, what truly sealed the Todd’s fate was after people started getting killed, Robin advised Batman to let the Todds pull out. But despite the overwhelming sense of danger, Batman not only refused to let them pull out, he demanded they stand up for what’s right and help catch this criminal.
Batman Refuses To Let The Todds Back Out
Since Batman refuses to let the Todds pull-out, they end up spotting a criminal and try to follow him back to his base, when they do, they’re ambushed by Killer Croc and quickly murdered. This orphaned poor Jason Todd – and Gordon even blames Robin for their deaths, since Robin suggested they get involved. But Robin also tried to pull them out and Batman is the one who refused. Batman was frustrated by his inability to capture Killer Croc and frustrated by the pressure of always having to be the one to stop criminals. Fortunately for Bruce, this moment happened shortly before Crisis on Infinite Earths, which rebooted the entire DC Universe and gave Jason a new backstory, allowing Batman to escape having to later confront Jason about his choice
There’s no doubt that Batman is one of the greatest heroes in the DC Universe. But he’s also a control freak and doesn’t mind using people to achieve what he wants, and in this example, his doing this directly led to the death of Jason Todd’s parents. This would actually have worked well with the later idea of Jason Todd as the angry, out-of-control Robin, since it would have been his own mentor who got his parents killed. It also made the clear point that Batman needs a Robin to temper his single-minded approach to crime-fighting – something he was lacking with Dick Grayson away most of the time, and gained once he recruited Jason.
Batman’s flaws are what make him fascinating as a character, but on the deadly streets of Gotham, they’re no joke, and his bad decisions often have a body count. Jason Todd‘s parents died because the Batman insisted they trail a deadly criminal, and Bruce only escaped the consequences of his decision because his entire reality was coincidentally rewritten soon after.