SPOILERS AND TEARS AHEAD
What Happened Previously: Jason Todd/Red Hood was told of the Untitled murdering his teachers the All Caste. Roy Harper/Arsenal and Kory/Starfire decide to help him look into the matter more than a little surprised to see how Jason reacts to their deaths.
Story Title: "Cherish is the word I use--to destroy you!"
Thoughts: I'm amused by how modern some of the All Caste speech is. It's not the usual stereotypical ancient warrior stuff, at least not with his teacher and S'aru. Great guardian that he is S'aru let the big bad in without trying to stop him/it/them? Lobdell seems to be keeping a lot of the Untitled a secret which has me very curious. I'm also fascinated by Roy and his view of Jason. It seems like every issue he's learning something new and is surprised at what he finds. I'm not sure if he's being serious or not when he tells Kori that he thinks Jason is going to shoot S'aru, who he thinks is a kid. This Roy says what he thinks before he has time to process it. It may be more of a "Jason is going to flip out" than an actual concern that he's going to hurt someone. The posing looks like he's amused as he whispers it to Kori. Like last issue Roy is stunned to see Jason in a new light as he states this isn't about revenge at the moment, it's his responsibility to stop the Untitled and learn why this happened.
Jason doesn't seem to care when his best memory is taken as collateral although Kori is more reluctant. Roy rudely/jokingly asks why that matters since she has a bad memory which she quips that she just forgets unimportant things. "Ray, isn't it?" I didn't mind this joke like some did as we still don't understand what's going on with her. Whatever it is she's not the type to take crap so I don't think early concerns will be valid.
The art in incredible on the stairway. There's a lot of details and with the Jokers' mouth as a door you have to wonder if all of these doors go to their memories. Do they? It leave you wondering who's door is that? They don't seem to go into their own memories but it's pretty weird nonetheless. Jason says from there you can go to anywhere and anywhen so does that mean they could go to possible futures? He says the path leads you where you need to go. Roy wonders if this place is why Jason is screwed in the head and I'm curious what Roy actually thinks of him. In the first issue he stated the things he heard of Jason being crazy but he never seems to act like he's around someone who's crazy. Jason doesn't sound as ticked as you'd think he'd be at someone saying this but I get the impression he truly wants to see how they view him.
S'aru is a bit of an ass, not only letting the Untitled go but peeking into memories that he knows is against the rules? Then again who is going to yell at him if his peers are dead? He figures it's okay to look at Starfires' memories because she's an alien and that's not really in the rules. He notes that she processes memories in an unusual way that's nearly impossible for him to unlock. This is different from the way Jason described it in #1 as he made it sound like she was sort of dismissive with humans. I'm really not sure where this particular storyline will go. I think it might have to do with her race needing to see/smell others to get the whole picture. Jason did allude to that and her race did evolve from cats.
I wasn't expecting little Kori to kill the solider but she states he was being sanctimonious. Either her race all have these starbolts now or she was experimented on at a early age. Yeah, I also see a lot of anger over her "most cherished memory" being that scene but again, S'aru said it was hard to tap into her memories. Yes it would have to be cherished to be with him (unless this process worked differently on aliens), I could see her being proud that she didn't break or depend on anyone else. She stood up for herself, this is the start of her fight for freedom.
I'm not surprised that even though Jason never entered the place before he knows about it because he studied it. Jason says that he's being left breadcrumbs he's expected to follow leaving me to wonder if this is actually about him as opposed to making it his business. Kori senses a trap reminding them that she was trained in the art of war. The boys shrug off the concern saying they can take care of themselves only to be shocked when spikes shoot out of the floor. Only the spikes are the top of a giant beast head. Roy declares this is seriously his new favorite memory because it's awesome. And I am amused at this exchange since everyone in comics always seem to be aware of what's going on in the fight even though they can't see everything:
Kori: (Monster wraps it's tongue around her trying to pull her into it's mouth.) Untongue me, creature!
Jason: (While falling with his back to her) ?! What am I missing?
Since he already broke the rule once S'aru decides why not look into another memory. He choose Roy hoping for some amusement. Past Roy is getting the crap beaten out of him by Killer Croc. He tells Roy to stay down (we see his bow is broken and he's out of arrows) a shaky but smiling Roy quips that it doesn't get any downer than him. Croc realizes that Roy is trying to use him as a means to kill himself and wants no part of it. S'aru thinks it's almost sweet that Roy was willing to recapture his heroics by fighting for the little guy despite losing so much. Although he thinks it's kind of pathetic too. (BTW Roy remarked that he hopes S'aru wasn't looking at their memories because it makes him feel unclean. Opps.)
Roy worries about Kori but Jason says she'll be okay. He just needs a distraction to find the clue left for him. It's more than amusing to see what's left and his reaction to it. With all the supernatural things going on you'd expect something else, he sure did. Kori once again steals the limelight by blowing up the creature and grabbing the boys.
Roy Harper: (Frowning with his arms crossed while Kori carries them off.) Not too emasculating, eh?
Jason Todd: You know what is really emasculating? Getting killed. Get over yourself, Harper.
It took me a moment to get the full impact of Jasons' statement as I was just focusing on him being okay with Kori saving them. But think about it, he's saying this as someone who died. Ow. They return to a surprised S'aru to get their memories back although Jason is more interested in asking if the clue means anything to S'aru. It doesn't. Roy tries to play off his memory as a sexual dream but the guardian basically rolls his eyes at that. S'aru calls Jason back to get his most cherished memory but Jason says to keep it.
We see what the memory is and I honest to god cried. Jason by far has the best of the memories that makes it the most heartbreaking. He's sick but wants to go out with Bruce as Robin only to be kept at home. Bruce decides to put off crime fighting saying it's okay to take a break. He sits down with Jason on the sofa asking what their watching. It hurts to see this because you know how things end. But it's also the flip side of Under the Hood. Jason was asking Bruce to put him first but he chose the mission over Jason. Here he choses Jason over the mission. Now it hurts for Jason to remember it so he gives it up.
This was already a good issue before the end but that made it gold. This is the first of the 52 to get me emotional. While S'aru broke the rules I really like the character and hope we see more of him. Kori was a strong warrior that doesn't take crap but at the same time has a innocence about her when she doesn't get Roys' joke (Jason gets it but doesn't find it's funny.) She saves the day (again) and is the strongest member in terms of emotional and physical strength. Her flashback shows that she has a strong will something that elevates her over the guys in regards to their memories and how they react to them. She values her freedom in all forms.
Roy is the funny guy that tries to be upbeat but is still struggling to make sense out of his life. While he can come off rude even to his teammates it's obvious he cares about them. Whether it's his concern about Kori or his curiosity with Jason. He's a guy that loves adventure, does things in the spur of the moment and seems to be the one who wants them to be a team the most. His memory shows him at a low point when he finds hope from an unlikely source but unlike Kori he needed to get inspired. She could be strong for herself as a slave but Roy was ready to give up. He's better in present day but he still has that vibe of someone who's very unsure about himself something that's been shown with him and Jason. Roy values hope, something to live for.
Ironically Jasons' most cherished memory is the normal one (as normal as you can get being a Robin anyway.) It shows that he wants that closeness, that sense of family and the fact that Bruce was willing to be there meant everything to him. But he knows things won't be like that anymore and that kills him. Something that should give him joy only makes the distance between Bruce and him worse. We got the impression that he's trying to sever all connections to the family in issue one when he stated why "Gotham sucks." Dismissive, sure, but he honestly wants nothing to do with them anymore. Forgetting the good times is just part of that to him. While Kori can deal with her past Jason can't, not now. This is how he's trying to move on.
Say What?: What is the deal with the All Caste? Why are they so old? Why does S'aru appear younger than the rest? Does this mean Essence is older than we'd guess? I don't mind it being unanswered in story but I'd love to learn more.
What's with the time? In the first issue it took Jason 12 hours to get from his beach house to the All Caste. Last issue made it seem like less but we did pick up during the flight so we already missed things in between. But now it's a half hour? I know they say it's a half hour since the Untitled broke in to the Chamber of All but what kept it/him/her/them from getting in 12 hours ago when Essence told Jason about it? Was the Untitled still killing them? We don't know how many there were and Jason did say the All Caste were the best that won't get taken out by anything less than an alien invasion.
I know the breadcrumb statement is sure to get laughs from some Jason Todd fans although I don't agree with the reason they'd find it funny. Basically there's a meme online that Jason loves bread because he was shown breaking into a bakery to eat a loaf. I don't find it funny because he was brain damaged at the time and starving. It's distasteful.
A little of Roys' past is cleared up it's revealed that he lost all his shares in Q-Core and he stole his current arrows from it as well.
Did You Notice?: S'aru seems to have the ability to warp out of the All Caste or create whatever he want because he has a sub and bottled soda. Or he could simply be making it appear that way. I love it when details in the art leave me wondering things like this. It really adds to the story.
The smoke S'aru is smoking looks the same as the memories he pulls out. Are those the memories of others that failed?
If one of the doors lead to the Chamber of All then where did the others go?
As Rip Hunter once wrote "Don't worry about Countdown focus elsewhere": In various parts of Countdown (not to mention the tie ins) Jason seemed shocked to discover things outside the norm. This always seemed odd to me because his mentor regularly worked with such people and Jason himself came back from the dead. At one point Jason completely dismissed a girl of being a witch because of her apparent age. I'm glad to see that at least part of Countdown is being ignored because Jason is already well aware of ancient powerful beings being able to look younger than they are.