A major factor to this is most likely Wizard Magazine, which had a horrible habit of slamming characters or concepts they didn't like. There was even an April Fools Top Ten of Characters that should Stay Dead and Jason was #1. Thus, if it wasn't how brutal Jason was cut down, it was certainly because certain people wouldn't stop making fun of it.
Complete Monster: The Joker is as monstrous as ever. After escaping Arkham Asylum, during which he kills a number of people, the Joker steals a nuclear weapon with plans to sell it to terrorists during the Lebanon civil war. He also blackmails Jason Todd's mother Sheila into helping him obtain medical supplies that he withholds from the starving to sell them on the black market, replacing them with laughing gas that, when set off, will kill thousands of people. Capturing Jason Todd, the Joker beats him with a crowbar before killing him and Sheila with a time bomb. After getting a position as the Iran representative, the Joker holds a speech at an assembly, only to try and kill everyone in the building with poisonous gas.
Hilarious in Hindsight: It's suspected that Lady Shiva could be Jason's mother. While drugged with truth serum, she states that she's never had a child. Years later, her daughter, Cassandra Cain, becomes the second Batgirl. And Bruce notes that she seems to be about Jason's age.
Jason still trying to save his estranged mother even with a utterly messed up body after the Joker was done giving him a crowbar beatdown and failing due to both of them being blown up... and they're even smiling before being killed by the explosion.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The story touches on a number of contemporary political and social issues, such as the Lebanese Civil War, the Arab–Israeli conflict, the Ethiopia famine, corruption and the handling of rogue states, the Iran-Contra case, etc.