The Red Hood completely turned Nightwing’s relationship with Superman upside down

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The Bat Family and the Superfamily have long been the closest in DC comics, and Nightwing drew a huge amount of inspiration from Superman, but true to form, the Red Hood went his own way when it came to creating a Kryptonian ally. Almost every iteration of Robin has its own super connection: Dick Grayson has the Man of Steel himself, Tim Drake has his best friend Conner, and Damian Wayne has Jonathan, the new DC Superman. Concerning Jason Todd, he struck up an interesting friendship with a clone of Superman, who has it a bit the other way around. He proves that while his friendship is less orthodox than Nightwing’s, that doesn’t make it any less remarkable.

Nightwing has always been a big fan of Superman, and the pair have had several iconic teams. In fact, after rejecting Batman, Dick Grayson chose his new name based on the Kryptonian legend that Superman told him about the original Nightwing. While Nightwing’s relationship with Batman was on edge, Clark was someone Dick thought he could trust and seek advice from while maintaining his independence. Although Dick has since returned to the fold, his bond with Superman remains incredibly strong.

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In Red Hood and Outlaws #3 by Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini and Taylor Esposito, Jason befriends Bizarro, the black sheep of the Superman family. When they meet, Jason sees himself in Bizarro, whom he affectionately calls “The Big Guy.” He sees someone come to life against his will, reflecting his own resurrection. Not only that, Bizarro is seen as a failed experiment, as are some comments about Jason being a failed Robin. Jason even tries to buy a Superman doll to make Bizarro feel more comfortable when talking to him. He notes that “the closest [he] came to a toy with a red-hot iron,” and while he struggles with “family stuff,” he makes an effort for someone everyone else thinks is a monster. As the title of the series suggests, these two are just a couple of criminals. They try their best, even if no one understands. Neither the Bat- nor the Super-families particularly want to claim the Red Hood and Bizarro, but they have each other and make each other better, even though their relationship reverses the connection of the mentor and ward of Nightwing and Superman.

Jason admits that Bizarro, oddly enough, became his first friend since he was brought back to life. Although Jason would never admit to being a “leader” like Dick, Red Hood becomes Bizarro’s mentor. This is the type of connection Jason is sure Batman won’t approve of, but Bruce doesn’t support most of his actions. However, Jason has done away with trying to meet the expectations of others. He reverses all aspects of Nightwing’s transition to a single hero, becoming an antihero who does not play by someone else’s rules, but by his own. He would rather accept an unstable clone of Superman than rely on the original as his new moral compass.

It is Jason Todd’s outsider personality that makes him unique in the bat family. Having grown up on the street, he is a bit rude, but his sense of justice is unshakable. Even when he has befriended a potentially dangerous clone of Superman, Red Hood’s compassion for the outcast shines through—he is not a Nightwing, but has learned to be a great hero without sacrificing his personality.