"When I was taking over Batman, and after the initial arc, I said I wanted to do something big, and this is what I wanted to do. We fought about it, discussed it – both the reasons for and against it, and in one conversation we settled it all. What it finally came down to – beyond the argument, which will be a reader argument about should any character return from the dead, and should this character come back from the dead? – was that I was less interested in the how and the why and the what of Jason Todd returning from the dead than I am about what Jason’s return will do to Batman. Now."- Judd Winick, March 31, 2005
"The why is not going to be important for a really long time."
"I’m not saying what the hell is going on, or what we’re looking at – is this Jason back from the dead? Is he a zombie? Did he never die? Is he from another planet or universe? Is he a ghost? Go through all of it. Every fan that reads this can and will go through all of the possibilities and come to their own ideas, which is great. But again, to me, that’s the least important part."
Apparently Jason Todd has a big role in post-Batman RIP Gotham. Well, it's about time. It only took four years to find a storyline for him.
Remember when Judd Winick brought back Jason Todd in 2005? In the interviews that came out after the reveal (like the one above from Newsarama, which unfortunately is no longer on their site but was thankfully saved here by Titans Tower), Winick went on and on about how it really wasn't important HOW Jason Todd came back, but the amazing creative opportunities that the return offered. In 2006 we finally got a half-assed explanation, a mixture of the absurd (Superboy-Prime punched a wall) and the typical (Lazarus Pit). Neither explanation on their own is interesting, and mixed together they are beyond preposterous, even for comic book standards.
Fast-forward to the end of 2008. Has Jason Todd been used in any sort of way to justify his return? Well, he appeared in Countdown and became Red Robin for about eight issues... then changed his mind. He's been virtually disowned by most of the Bat-books – he hasn't appeared in Batman since before the One Year Later jump (and he has NEVER actually appeared in Detective Comics since his “big return”). Just recently, Todd appeared in Robin to have a fringe appearance in the RIP crossover, and perhaps to pave his way for his upcoming new importance.
But Winick’s above quotes, plus his lack of any significant use, really says it all: Jason Todd was brought back for a quick sales spike, with absolutely no long-term plan for his use. Comic book companies do not tend to plan four years in advance, so there was certainly no concrete plan of build-up for Todd’s post-Batman RIP role.
Unlike the return of Bucky in Captain America, which has carried Ed Brubaker through years of popular stories, the return of Jason Todd has really yielded no memorable stories or consistent high sales. At the time, many bemoaned how one of the all-time memorable Batman stories, A Death In The Family, would lose its power and validity. According to Winick, the supposed storytelling benefits of Jason Todd’s return would outweigh this.
I cannot speak for everyone, but I for one am still waiting for the benefits.