Batman: A Death in the Family, the seminal four-part storyline by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy, and John Costanza, saw the end of Jason Todd as the second Robin at the hands of The Joker — and over 5,000 fans who voted in a phone-in poll to kill him off. As outlined in The Beat‘s oral history of the event, DC compiled two different versions of Batman #428, the issue in which Jason would be revealed to either live or die. The finished product had Batman discover Jason’s body in the wreckage of an exploded warehouse, and featured a funeral scene for both Jason and his mother. A page of the alternate artwork was used in 2005’s Batman Annual #25, but the majority of it, which amounted to a handful of panels and one full page of work penciled by Aparo, inked by DeCarlo, and lettered by Costanza, has only been seen by a select few, instead residing in DC’s archives for over three decades.
As part of DC Daily’s Robin Week, yesterday’s episode focused on A Death in the Family, and concluded its main segment with a look at the never-before-seen artwork from the alternate version of Batman #428. The video doesn’t appear to be available to embed, but the artwork is shown off at around the 13:50 mark. You can see some screenshots below.
The pages show Batman finding Jason and discovering he’s alive. Having taken him to a hospital, Dick Grayson arrives to ask Bruce if he needs help taking down The Joker, which Bruce declines, saying he’d prefer to do things alone from now on. As the artwork is shown, the panelists note the editorial markings on the pages, indicating that, had these pages been used, Dick would have been replaced by Alfred (and in the final version, after Jason’s death, Alfred does ask Bruce if he wants to call Dick for help).
I’ve loved A Death in the Family since I was a tiny child comic book reader. It’s one of the first Batman stories I ever read, Jason Todd was my first Robin, and I’ve long been fascinated by the ‘what if’ of it all. Getting to see these pages has been a wish of mine for literal decades, so having them shown off in this video – even if it’s fleeting, even if you can’t read all of it, and even if there’s still a patch panel that’s not shown super-clearly – is really a delightful way to finish the week.
And maybe this’ll open the door for a deluxe edition of A Death in the Family, featuring all of the alternate art in which Jason Todd survives? A fan can hope.