Jason Todd had a completely different origin story when he was first introduced one even more traumatic than the murder of Batmans parents.
Batman may have a traumatic origin but hes lucky when compared to how his former partner the Red Hood originally began his life as a superhero. Jason Todd was the second Robin and everyone remembers how he died at the hands of the Joker. However not many know that the character had an entirely different origin story when he first appeared.
Introduced in 1983 Jason Todd was a controversial Robin following Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing. Following the changes to DC continuity made after Crisis on Infinite Earths Jason was given the origin that most comic fans are familiar with. After catching him attempting to steal the tires from the Batmobile Batman realizes that Jason is an orphan living on the streets. Not wanting to see the young man fall into a life of crime Batman takes Jason under his wing and begins training him as the new Robin. Yet this wasnt the origin Jason Todd had when the character was first introduced.
Written by Gerry Conway and with art by Dan Jurgens Dick Giordano Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala Detective Comics #525526 presents the second Robins initial origin. This version of Jason Todd is the son of acrobats Joe and Trina Todd who are approached by Dick Grayson once he learns that Batman villain Killer Croc is trying to extort money from their circus. Dick asks for their help and the Todds decide to go looking for the missing Croc on their own. Once he learns the Todds have gone after Croc Dick takes Jason back to Wayne Manor while he and Batgirl go off to find his parents. They track them to Crocs lair at the Gotham Zoo but find they are too late the Todds have been murdered by Killer Croc and thrown to the crocodiles in his lair. Readers later learn that Crocs favorite method of execution is to crush his victims in an immense bear hug suggesting the Todds final moments were truly horrific.
In many ways this first origin for Jason would help to explain the characters grim nature when he returned years later as the Red Hood. While its traumatic enough to have your parents killed at a young age knowing that they were killed by a supervillain and then fed to crocodiles is an entirely different matter altogether. It would certainly explain the constant chip on the characters shoulder that would later become Jason Todds defining attribute since the Todds were captured in front of Killer Crocs associates meaning their deaths may even have been a public spectacle.
Jasons first origin also connects him to his predecessor as Dick Grayson feels directly responsible for the deaths of the Todds.
This ties Red Hood and Nightwing closer together rather than making Jason a random kid who took Dicks role much to his surprise. The fact that Dick offered to adopt Jason after his parents grisly fate only for Bruce to step in instead also adds a lot to his character and would be a fascinating wrinkle to explore now that both the former Robins have entered adulthood.
Alas it was not meant to be. In an effort to clean up continuity and differentiate the character from Dick Grayson Jason Todds origin was changed to the current version and has been official Batman canon ever since. However while the man now known as Red Hood has long had things rough few experiences could be as traumatic as the origin story he ultimately managed to avoid.