I got this before Batman #17 could come in the mail. This issue has to do with the aftermath of DOTF as well as tie in Batman Inc. Yeah, more bat books are starting to do that.
Jason contacts Roy and Kori to let them know he's okay. Since the Titans are no where to be seen I guess they either ditched the Outlaws or Tim already called them to let them know he was fine. The Outlaws are happy that Jasons' alright, something that's heartwarming for a character that always got rejected by his family prior to the relaunch. He asks that his friends go outside the ship into a car he sent. Roy doubts Jason could find them since their cloaked but he does anyway. The car is automatic to boot, something that impresses and freaks Roy out.
Now we get to a part some will complain about. Jason stating that he never thought of Bruce as a father. I said this before but it needs repeating, Jason isn't always a reliable narrator. In this series he told himself he wasn't getting fond of his teammates, Essence was just another student he knew (which he later reluctantly admitted was a lie but still denied when his friends asked) and was rather defensive in his origin issue. Yes Jason can be honest in his text boxes but when something hurts him emotionally Jason hides behind bravado. He's called Bruce "Dad" as a joke and stated that he believes Bruce pretended to love him like a son. Plus Jason says that his own experience with his parents wasn't great. If they were the example of what parents should be then that's another reason for him not to see Bruce as a dad. His own dad was a loser.
When the previews came out there was some complaining about Damian being written out of character. Uh, he's not. Damian doesn't like Jason. He didn't under Tomasi since he pretty much called him a failure going as far as blaming his own death on him. Being petty and sick enough to bring a crowbar. Under Morrison he's still refuses to acknowledge Jason as part of the family despite him being Wingman. I'm not sure what makes him so out of character if he just gave an insult. All things considered that's pretty tame for Damian especially since he only reacted to Jasons' teasing. Jason does tell Damian that he did good and thinks about how they never got along. (Well he never really had a problem with the kid.) Ironically the only time they were fine was when they took on different IDs (Wingman and Red Bird.) He knows that their both weighed down by the legacy of Robin and tries to reach out to him since Damian doesn't have a person like Ducra in his life. Jason even says the other Robins have been through such things too. But of course Damian brushes off his attempts at helping.
It's foreshadowing if the rumors of Damians' death are true but Jason thinks how he had to die before he could work through his anger. He hopes Damian can get through it before that happens. The car with his friends arrives making it the first canonical time either have ever been around Damian. It's also the first time any of the family has seen Jason with his friends too, at least in person. Roy remarks how much money Batman Inc. has to have such a place prompting Damian to insult him and say he must be Jasons' friend. (Their not actually at a safe house, it's Wayne Manor. Not sure why Roy thinks otherwise since Bruce publically sponsors INC.) I like how Jason tells Damian to heel, it shows he doesn't approve of the insult. Nice character development all around. Jasons' thrilled to see them but before he can even finish his sentence Kori rushes forward to greet him. Have I mentioned how much I love the trio together? Because this is much better than the place DC left them just before the relaunch. It's one of the few things I adore about it.
Damian taunts the trucker hat and Roy taunts a ten year old being a crime fighter.. Kori takes Jason up to the top of the mansion. She expresses her joy at having him alive. Now comes another statement I'm sure people will get up in arms about since Kori says he's the only person she's known only as a friend, I know some will take this to mean: "Kori has sex with everyone she gets close to!" I don't think that's the case. I do think this confirms that these two never had sex. I also recall Roy saying that he wasn't really close to her prior to the three of them working together. This statement could be true because she simply didn't let any human but Dick get close to her before her self imposed exile. We know that she was friends with Depalo and couldn't be anything more. (In case you don't believe that he canonically couldn't stand physical contact and romance was never hinted at.)
The memory thing with Kori was never fully developed but here Jason doubts how truthful it is. It's implied that she just doesn't want to deal with Dick. Speaking of Jason asks his adopted brother why he doesn't go out to say hi to her. Dick is in the middle of angst mode since it DOTF killed off his supporting cast and doesn't think it's wise to be close to anyone right then. Jason gets it but states that Kori is more amazing than Dick is giving her credit for. This makes Dick snap not to judge him just to promise him that he'll look after her. Jason says he will everyday of his life. He returns outside to see Damian and Roy fighting each other. They claim it was the others' fault and he sighs to himself before moving on. It's strange since Dick seemed to be in the bat cave even though Jason went to the top then jumped down afterwards. Even if Kori took him somewhere spur of the moment that doesn't make sense.
Next he does go to the bat cave. There's a comment about all of them making excuses not to return and how Barbara still hasn't. It's nice to see someone make the connection between the two members that suffered at Jokers' hands the most and it's fitting that it's Jason. I'm not sure why he or Dick are there if their trying to avoid Bruce since it's his house and all. Or why he left his helmet in Bruces' cave if he didn't want to see him. Bruce knows Jason wanted to leave without saying goodbye but states otherwise much to Jasons' annoyance. It's a funny how much these two have in common in terms of how they act around others (for the most part.) Jason decides to cut to the chase and says that he ran into Superman recently who claims Batman vouched for him. Bruce says that he will never approve of his methods but can't deny his results. He claims that he knows he can't control everyone and shouldn't try. Jason doesn't really believe that to which Bruce says he deserves it. Which I suppose you can take to mean a number of things, I chose to read it as Bruce knowing he'll make things worse if he's clingy.
The claim Joker made about creating Jason is brought up. Bruces' answer is another thing that can sound good or bad depending on your opinion. He says that the Joker didn't create him and neither did he, Jason created himself. That's good enough of an answer for him. Outside Roy tosses a football to a bewildered Damian who doesn't know the purpose. Meanwhile Jason goes back into his old room thinking how he could barely sleep that first night. Alfred uses that as a cue to appear and finally the two talk on panel since his return. Of course he assumes (hopes) Jason wants to stay for the night since he's in his old room. Jason marvels at how Alfred is already up and about so soon after the horror Joker put him through. Everyones' favorite butler states he likes a full house and says that he hopes Jason realizes now that he'll always have a home. Jason says he knows.
Then the moment I was dreading Jason puts on the helmet which happens to be the one Joker rigged. A hologram starts with the Joker saying how pissed he was that Jason ruined his grand joke by returning and if he wants to be his own man he has to start with a clean state. Then Jason screams (and laughs? I can't tell if that's supposed to be him laughing.) This alerts everyone that somethings' wrong. Except Dick I guess since we get neither his reaction or his appearance when the others rush towards Jason. I felt shaken up on the last few pages especially seeing the others reactions (although why Damian would ask who, I don't know.) Everyone is freaked out, Roy calls him by his nickname, and Bruce just softly says no before racing to him. Despite the fact he was in the cave he's the first to come to his side and yells as he takes the helmet off. To be honest I'm not sure what happens when he does. I'll get to that in a bit.
Artwise I enjoyed this better than last issue. There were a few problems I had with things like the holo-image of Jasons' helmet. I haven't been a fan of the Deadpool style that some artist give the hood. But that's a personal taste thing. There was also the car Jason sent for his friends which I thought should have looked sleeker instead of retro looking. The bench Damian and Jason sat on seemed too simple for a private estate. If I just saw the top panel of them together I would have thought they were waiting for a bus. There wasn't much detail in Jasons' room. I could get it if it was totally cleaned out after his death but there was a guitar and some books. If Alfred kept it the same it should have more of his personality. I also got confused by who said their going to change thinking Damian was supposed to be Jason.
Now comes the confusion with the end. His face is hidden in smoke when Bruce takes the helmet off. Given the cover image to #19 I would have thought his face was burned off. Joker mentions something about the face only a mother could love in the DOTF tie in. Jasons' face doesn't look burned, it's in shadow, maybe a little reddish after the smoke clears away but otherwise looks fine. The caption for the next issue says "Jason Todd that was your life..." Did he die again? Did he lose all his memories since Joker mentioned a "clean slate"?
A pretty good issue but it leaves me more than a little confused. I'm not sure if it's because of the art or not.
Say What?: It's not really a problem for me, I just think it's funny that alien ship tech isn't that impressive in this title. In RHATO #8 Tim was able to tell they had someone eavesdropping on the line, Superman was able to pick up where the trio were beamed to despite being told that it was impossible and now Jason was able to figure out where they were. Maybe all of those examples were to show how good Tim, Clark and Jason are but it makes alien tech look kinda weak.
Jason claims Talia is responsible for him being alive although issue #2 says she was only responsible for healing his mind/soul since his body was alive. DC might have stepped in to make it simpler although there's no reason given for Talia to bring him back by herself. In Lost Days she was just restoring his mind to give him a better chance at life.
Did You Notice?: Jasons' holo-image has him wearing his helmet. He doesn't even have it with him when they show him.
Lobdell gives a jab at the Robins being referred to as an internship via Jasons' thoughts.
Question Raised?:Why were Kori and Roy on the outskirts of Gotham in a cloaked ship when they were looking for Jason?
When does this take place? I know it's supposed to be after DOTF but the Batman Inc. stuff makes it hard to put in a timeline. Obviously Inc. #4 already happened since Jason reflects on it, but does this DOTF take place before or after whatever happens in #8 onward? Well Morrison hasn't tried to match up his work with the new 52 so I don't see why others should try either.
Why was Dick and Jason there if everyone left after the Joker thing?
How did that helmet get there? Did Joker put it there and Jason just assume it was one he misplaced? It's just sitting there on the bat computer.