Hellboy's Mike Mignola just did a stunning Batman cover for a story that rectifies the Dark Knight's greatest mistake almost 40 years later

From the Vault: Death in the Family: Robin Lives! #1 cover art by Mike Mignola
(Image credit: DC)

What if Jason Todd had lived in the original Batman: Death in the Family story, back in 1988? That question was partially answered in DC's recent "fauxsimile" printing of Batman #428 with an ending where Jason lives instead of dies. But now the publisher is digging even deeper into the ramifications of a world where Jason Todd never died in the improbably named From the DC Vault: Death in the Family: Robin Lives! #1, a new four-issue limited series coming this summer.

Also along for the ride is artist Mike Mignola, who provides a variant cover for Robin Lives! #1 which pays homage to his own covers for Batman #426-429, the issues in which the original Batman: Death in the Family story was told, seen here.

(Image credit: DC)

In Death in the Family: Robin Lives, writer JM DeMatteis and artist Rick Leonardi will dig into the next chapter in the tale of Jason Todd's survival - his "plans for revenge" against the Joker.

The question of how Jason's survival might have changed the DC Universe has some big ramifications. Would Jason have become the anti-hero the Red Hood if he had lived back in 1988? Would his successor Tim Drake have ever become Robin? That's just the tip of the iceberg.

"In 1988, DC raised the revolutionary idea to let fans decide the fate of then-Robin Jason Todd by calling a 1-800 number and casting a vote," reads DC's official announcement. "Originally, fans decided that Jason would pay the ultimate price at the hands of The Joker, but a new facsimile of the original Batman #428 was released in December of 2023, featuring an alternate ending in which Jason lives. Now, for the first time, readers will witness his plans for revenge against the Clown Prince of Crime."

The "fauxsimile" edition of Batman #428 is mostly the same as the original published version, with the major exception of the last few pages which reveal that Jason survived, rather than detailing his death. The pages had previously seen the light of day, but the "fauxsimile" Batman #428 put them directly in the story as if fans had voted for Robin to live way back when.

"Continuing this classic, and controversial, story and following in the footsteps of Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo, two creators I greatly admire, has been both a challenge and a joy,” says writer JM DeMatteis in a statement accompanying the announcement. "This is a great opportunity to tell a story that’s big on action, but also takes a very deep dive into the heads of our main characters as we ponder what would have happened if Jason Todd had survived The Joker’s brutal attack. And having a master like Rick Leonardi bringing it to life visually? I couldn’t ask for anything more."

With four issues, DeMatteis and Leonardi have plenty of room to dig into the immediate impact of Jason Todd's survival. And maybe even the space to set up answers for what Jason's place in the DC Universe could have been down the road, after he survived. 

Here's a gallery of pencils for interior pages from Death in the Family: Robin Lives! #1 by Leonardi, along with his main cover for the issue:

In the mainstream DC Universe where he died and was later resurrected, Jason has grown into the Red Hood, an anti-hero who first started as an antagonist to Batman, and who has since grown into a tenuous working relationship with the Dark Knight. He's also found a place with audiences, who have made Jason a cult favorite as Red Hood.

"I'm hoping this series will give readers a look down the path not chosen; a glimpse of the alternative to the original fallout from Batman #428," adds artist Rick Leonardi. "After people read it, maybe this choice made back in the day will seem vindicated, or maybe we’ll see that it was a poor choice after all."

From the Vault: Death in the Family: Robin Lives! #1 goes on sale July 10, with a main cover by Rick Leonardi, and the aforementioned Mike Mignola variant seen above.

The original Batman: Death in the Family is one of the best Batman stories of all time.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)