Saturday, December 16, 2023

Batman #428 (Robin Lives!)

In the climax of 1988's A Death in the Family the Joker killed Robin, but what if he didn't? Part of the most unique marketing campaign ever considered for a comic book, DC Comics let fans decide whether or not Jason Todd should live or die. To meet the demands of publishing, and to hide the truth about which story was coming, two versions of the comic were created and printing was held off until the last minute. When the vote was tabulated and fans had chosen to let Robin die, that issue hit the stands and the other was put away... until now.

Reprinted as something similar to DC's Facsimile Edition, Batman #428 is reprinted here complete with vintage ads appropriate for the time period and a letter column. The comic plays out mostly the same with Batman stumbling through the rubble of the explosion first finding the dying Sheila Haywood and then Jason. This time around, however, Jason survives.

Other than the panels with Jason in the hospital, still in a coma as the comic ends, events play out largely the same including a rage-filled Batman looking for the Joker and Superman stepping in at the end with same bad news providing Batman no outlet for his grief. The arc of the story (as goofy as it is), at least here, isn't changed much by Jason's survival, although it does provide a moment of hope for his mentor.

For fans who lived through the original storyline, or saw it brought back up with Todd's eventual return, it's an interesting "what if," although it's just the planting of a seed and we'll never know exactly how Todd's recovery and his eventual return to the role of Robin would have changed Batman's history. On a personal note, I love seeing Batman drawn in his classic costume again, lovingly rendered by artist Jim Aparo, which has been far too absent in recent years.

[DC, $4.99]

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