One month later:
Jason Todd walked down the hallway of Washington Junior High in Gateway City. It was still a new experience for him, being in the school itself. According to his own memory, he’d spent the last three years on the road with his parents, being home-schooled by members of the circus troupe. He now knew that had taken place four years earlier, but he still found that part hard to believe. Four years was missing from his life, though his body had continued its normal growth while he was held captive. Washington was a specialized school for students who were working at grade levels far above or below what was normal for their age.
He reached the counselor’s office. It was a familiar place; he’d spent an hour or more there three days a week for the past month since he’d been brought back to Earth. Sometimes, his aunt and uncle were there. Once, Superman had been there. Everyone had been working hard on his behalf, helping him settle into his new life.
This time, when he opened the door, Mr. Girard was not alone. His Aunt Amy and Uncle Stewart were there. Standing in one corner of the room was a figure he knew by reputation: the Batman.
“Good afternoon, Jason. Mr. umm… that is, Batman, here, has asked to have a private talk with you. That is, if it is okay with you, and with your aunt and uncle.”
Jason looked at his mother’s sister. “It’s up to you, Jason. He’s told us why he’s here, but we think it’s best if you hear it from him.”
“All right, then,” said the young man. A few minutes later, it was just Jason and Batman in a windowless office.
“How much do you know about what happened?”
Jason shrugged. “Five weeks ago, I was twelve years old, performing in the Sloan Circus with my folks. We were in Metropolis, about to perform our last show before packing up to go to the New Jersey Palisades Fairgrounds near Gotham City.” (*) The sixteen-year-old looked up. “I was hoping I might see you while we were there.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Squid,” Batman #357 (March, 1983).]
“The last thing I remember in Metropolis was coming back to our trailer after the show. I wanted to put on jeans to help with the tear-down. When I got there, there was someone waiting — I never found out who. I opened the door, saw someone, then the next thing I remember is waking up with the Flash shaking my shoulder.” I find out that I’ve been asleep for four years, and m-my parents are… are dead.” The boy paused for a moment to collect himself before he continued; he felt like he’d already cried enough to fill a lake, and didn’t want to do so again in the presence of Batman. “Later, I was told that one of the Martians had taken my place.”
“Do you know why they captured you?”
“No. No idea.”
Batman stood up and walked away toward a wall. “To get at me. Jason Todd was orphaned two nights later, his parents killed by one of my enemies, very similar to the night Robin’s parents were killed, and I took him into my home. I did the same thing with Jason.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “All My Enemies Against Me,” Detective Comics #526 (May, 1983).]
“Are you saying…?”
Batman turned back toward him. “You became Robin, yes. As Robin, the Martian impersonating you did a lot of good. He did that because he was acting based on your motivations, your beliefs, your morals. If you wanted to, you could do the same.”
Jason sat for a moment, thinking about the possibilities. He could be Robin? A hero? Working with Batman? The idea was overwhelming, and yet, he knew.
“No. I’ve got so much to catch up on. School, family, my old friends in the circus. I already know that I stand a good chance of being seriously messed up in the head because of all this. Putting on a mask and a pair of shorts and running around with the Teen Titans probably wouldn’t be such a good idea.” He stood up and walked over to the Caped Crusader. “Not that I don’t appreciate it. I doubt you offer this to every kid that comes along.”
Batman smiled and nodded. “You’re right. I don’t. But you’re a special case.” Batman reached into his utility belt and pulled out a card. “If you ever need anything, or you just want to talk, call this number.”
Jason looked at it. “Bruce Wayne — friend of yours?”
Batman pulled back his mask. “No. It’s me. And you’re part of the family — when you want to be.”