As former Robins Jason Todd and Tim Drake (well, former sidekicks, at least) meet the Joker in "Death of the Family," Red Hood and the Outlaws and Teen Titans will be crossing over to deal with the horrific night in Gotham City.
Scott Lobdell, who has been writing both titles since they launched last year, promises there will be a lot of changes in both comics at the end of the "Death of the Family" tie-ins. After Tim and Jason are psychologically tortured by The Joker — if they live through the attack — Teen Titans and Red Hood and the Outlaws will go in new directions.
Teen Titans also gets a new artist in 2013, when Eddy Barrows comes to the book after leaving Nightwing. And Raven appears in the title after "Death of the Family."
Lobdell has established that The Joker believes he has a special relationship with Jason Todd. In September's Red Hood and the Outlaws #0, The Joker played narrator and told the story of how he "created" Jason by manipulating him through his whole life.
In this week's Red Hood and the Outlaws #15, readers will learn more about those allegations, as The Joker not only confronts Jason about them, but also finds a way to give the story a further twist.
Newsarama talked to Lobdell about "Death of the Family," and what readers will learn about during the Teen Titans and Red Hood and the Outlaws tie-in issues.
Newsarama: Scott, we've learned a lot about Jason Todd's relationship with The Joker. Or would relationship be the right word? Maybe just from The Joker's point of view.Scott Lobdell: I think that's a great word.
Nrama: Is it?
Lobdell: Yeah, I love the fact that the two of them are, like you said, at least from Joker's point of view, are bonded in a way that Jason has not learned.... until now.
Nrama: I assume in issue #15, then, we're going to see Jason learn how much The Joker has been part of his life?
Lobdell: I think it's fair to say there are certainly revelations that will occur that eagle-eyed readers can trace back to the events of Red Hood #0, but I also think that Joker has been and always will be a very unreliable narrator. And the thin line between madness and genius is so thin with him that I think, like with any Joker reveals, one has to always wonder how much is real and how much is The Joker.
Nrama: As a "Death of the Family" tie-in, this issue fits into the storyline of Batman, where Joker has said that he knows who all the members of the Bat-family are behind their masks. That has weakened the bond between the members of the Bat-family. What game is he trying to play with Jason within that framework? He seems to have a different idea for him in mind. Would he kill Jason?
Lobdell: I think that Jason presents the biggest problem for Joker, in part because Joker feels so personally invested in Jason, in a way that he really doesn't with Dick and Tim and even Barbara.
So I think Joker's intent is to do his best to psychologically terrorize Jason, but when Jason fails to respond because he's no longer the kind of — I don't want to say "meat puppet," because that's not the right word, although maybe Joker would see it that way — but since he's not the creation that Joker has assumed he was in the past (and ever since the start of Red Hood and the Outlaws, we've seen Jason grow as a person at leaps and bounds) that Joker is going to find that he's going to have to dig much deeper to try to find ways to push Jason's buttons.Nrama: That's interesting to hear, that the growth Jason has gone through since the beginning of your series, will affect how The Joker needs to carry out his plan. But from Jason's point of view, as he walks into issue #15, where is his head, as far as The Joker is concerned?
Lobdell: I think we see in the earliest pages of #15, and we already saw in the last page of #14, but we see very early in about the first eight pages of issue #15, that Jason really is bored with The Joker. When a guy has already beaten you to death, it's kind of hard to come up with something that's going to startle you after that.
Jason, at first, is like, I'm not eager to do this dance again, and I'm not the chained up little girl still in love with you. He will survive, he will survive. And then eventually, as the layers start to peel away and Joker has to bring his "A" material, I think then the relationship takes another dramatic twist that, over the next few issues, is really going to change Jason's view of himself for years to come.
I promise you that that's not one of those things that people say about crossovers, like, "yeah, big things are going to happen," and then it doesn't happen. This is really going to have long-term ramifications.
Nrama: Red Hood is not only tying into what's going on in Batman, but it's also tying into Teen Titans over the course of your "Death of the Family" issues. At the center of this is Tim Drake and Jason Todd, two former Robins. Are those two at a place of animosity in this story?Lobdell: I don't really see any animosity between them. While certainly pre-New 52, there were a few murder attempts and a few things that happened between superheroes and supervillains and the people that are caught between the two definitions, I think Tim and Jason both share the fact that they're not the first Robin, and they're not essentially family, like Damian. And so out of all the people who are Robins, they have much more in common than they have not in common.
So I think that, because of the situation the two of them find themselves in, their inclination is to automatically work together and to have each other's back and to protect each other in ways that maybe, if it were any two other guys, there might have been a different dynamic.
I'm not a fan of when characters act in a way that creates a sense of conflict between them that I think is there to serve the story but not the characters. I think Tim is much too mature to hold anything against a young guy who was brutally murdered and came back to life under some pretty horrible circumstances.
Nrama: Yeah, it's kind of a shared experience as Robins in danger. Tim could probably understand better than anyone why Jason is the way he is.Lobdell: Yeah.
Nrama: The two teams meet up as well. How are these teams going to interact during the "Death of the Family" story?
Lobdell: Tim and Jason have been trapped by Joker in both of the #15 issues, and then we see what he does to them in the #16 issues, and how they react. But while that's going on, Roy essentially takes over the impromptu role of leader with Red Robin otherwise engaged. So it's a big step-up moment for Roy.
And it's also a way to examine the fact that the Teen Titans are not the Teen Titans of yore, where they have a ton of experience. This is the very first time they've come to Gotham, and they don't come at it with a long history of being able to work together. And when you go up against Joker and his machinations, it's a whole different playing field.
I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised to see that Roy kind of — I mean, he still has his one-liners, but he kind of turns his baseball cap backwards and settles into the role of leadership and is going to get these kids through this horrific night in Gotham.
We'll be seeing Roy with Bunker, and we'll be seeing Solstice and Starfire have a scene where we realize that maybe these two know more about each other than either of the members of the other teams know. So we'll see a lot of the Teen Titans and the Outlaws together over the course of this "Death of the Family" story.Nrama: Red Hood and the Outlaws #17 has this really powerful image on the cover of Batman holding Jason Todd as Red Hood, with a reflection of him once holding Robin.
Lobdell: I know. Is that the most awesome cover ever?
Nrama: It's great, but also a bit scary if it's literal. So is Batman part of this issue? Is Jason dealing with Batman in the aftermath of this story?
Lobdell: I wouldn't say Jason is dealing with "Batman." I'd say that Jason is dealing with Bruce. And oddly enough, while the Joker's intent is to drive a wedge between Batman and the rest of the family, the unintended consequence of his action is going to find Bruce and Jason finally, at long last, coming together as a "father" and son relationship, in a way they haven't until now.Whatever relationship moves forward between Batman and the Red Hood, I think regardless of that, the relationship between these two men will be a lot different moving forward.
For anybody who read Red Hood #3, and that scene with a sick Jason watching TV with Bruce, there is, I think, a tremendous amount of love and affection between these two surrogate family members. Behind all the Bat-symbols and masks and capes, you really have this story about a boy looking up to a man.
So while that's a very strong, powerful, scary cover, I think that a lot of the power of these issues moving forward is going to revolve around the emotional connection between these two.
Nrama: We're running out of time here, Scott, and I know there are some big changes for Red Hood and the Outlaws, with the solicitations indicating there will be a change in "mission." And I know in Teen Titans, as Tim deals with the aftermath of "Death of the Family," there's also a return of Raven, and you have a new art team coming on. So wrapping up all that, what's coming up post-"Death of the Family" from these two series?
Lobdell: After every interview, there are about 30 or 40 or 60 posts with fans weighing in on what they've heard and their guesses as to the future of the books. And I can just say that whatever ideas you are harboring, my message board friends, you should toss them out.
I can tell you that, moving forward, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Teen Titans are going to be moving in directions that we can't even guess at, even if you spend the whole day guessing.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!