A preview of Batman #138 by Chip Zdarsky, Jorge Jimenez, and Tomeu Morey revealed how far Bruce Wayne will go to stop his allies without violence. Batman had previously knocked the Red Hood unconscious following a confrontation in Batman Catwoman: The Gotham War – Red Hood #1. The preview reveals that Batman planted a hypnotic suggestion in Red Hood so that he would be overwhelmed with fear when his body generated adrenaline. This made it effectively impossible for Jason Todd to fight without being overwhelmed by nausea.
Batman described what he had done as “a gift” rather than a punishment. He also said that he had arranged a new identity and an apartment in Metropolis for Jason. Batman hoped that Jason would take the opportunity to “live a normal life, fall in love, (and) do meaningful work.”
While Batman’s attack was technically non-violent, it still represented a gross invasion of Jason Todd’s autonomy and a betrayal of their relationship. While Red Hood tried to free himself of Batman’s influence, he still wanted to earn his mentor’s approval. Through his actions, Batman has revealed that he thinks Jason Todd is beyond redemption. This realization would be painful enough even without Jason’s issues with being made to feel powerless. There is also the problem of the physical trauma that Batman’s “gift” is inflicting on Jason’s nervous system.
Batman’s actions seem poised to turn more of his allies against him. While the more idealistic members of the Bat Family have issues with Red Hood, altering someone’s mind crosses a serious line. It will be interesting to see how this changes the playing field, as the Gotham War continues.
Batman #138 releases on October 3, 2023.