The cover version for Task Force Z #12 depicts Jason Todd in his many costumes of different years, from Robin to the Red Hood. This striking cover vividly demonstrates Jason’s journey over the decades. He may have started out as Batman’s sidekick, Robin, but Jason Todd has become his own man. This cover seems to be asking if this person is a hero or something sadder.
Jason Todd was introduced as Batman’s new Robin in 1983 in Batman #357 by Gerry Conway, Don Newton, Alfredo Alcala and Adrienne Roy. Jason’s complicated history with Batman includes his own gruesome death and resurrection, but his ideology of killing as a Red Hood has previously led to disagreements with almost all other Gotham vigilantes. Although Jason’s career as the Red Hood began as a more villainous character, he gradually earned the title of “antihero”—or maybe even “hero”. However, more recently, Red Hood (again) was at odds with the bat family in “Task Force Z”, where he teamed up with undead villains as well as Two-Face to achieve his righteous goals.
Task Force Z #12 is the last issue of the series, and this version of Jim Cheng’s cover is a fitting summary for Jason’s journey so far. In the foreground on the cover is a picture of Jason without a helmet in his latest Red Hat suit. Behind this Red Hood is the trail of Jason Todds. In the middle are four classic Red Hat suits, including the original suit from Under a red hood and a suit with a pill from Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin movie. In the background sits a young Jason in a Robin costume, and the giant shadow of Batman looms ominously behind all these numerous Jason Todds.
This cover is one of the best visual representations of Jason’s journey. Red Hood has struggled with his moral path—especially compared to Batman’s strict moral code—for decades. This cover, while tracking the changes to his costume and weapons, also tracks Jason’s struggle to live up to Batman’s legacy, and Jason’s personal struggle with his Robin career and his untimely death. The main feature of this art, of course, is Jason’s footprint, but note also that the art takes place in a cemetery. At the very end, Robin is sitting on a tombstone, and in front of Little Red Riding Hood is leaning against another. Death plays an important role in Jason’s story, and this cover pays tribute to her as well as to all the great projects of the Red Hood.
Jason Todd’s journey as the Red Hood has been difficult, but this Jim Cheng cover shows how Red Hood’s design choices over the years have helped map Jason’s heroic path. Jason Todd’s heroism—depending on the definition of the word—is currently on display in “Task Force Z,” where his morals are being put to the test. This series is a must—read for fans of The Red Hood, especially since the book is coming to an end with issue # 12, and Jason Todd is struggling with his choice – morally sound or not.