Bad Guy: Bet you wish you had your butler here to hide behind.
Jason Todd: (smiling) My butler would kick your ass all the way back to Gotham City.
Have I mentioned how much I love the bits with Jason and Alfred? Anyway, this takes off after Batman and Red Hood #20 although only one spoiler was given from that.
Simply that Jason and Bruce went to Ethiopia in the other comic and he left Bruce to go to the mountains. Since it costs a lot of money for a trip from Ethiopia to the mountain, plus keeping his name off the ledger, Jason attracts some unwanted attention that he's not in the mood for. The exchange on top of this review happens leading to Kori and Roy finding the crashed jet in the snow. While I like their banter I did feel like hitting my head against my computer when Roy asks the town folks where the Acres of All are. Why? Because they should know. Roy was in the plane when Jason directed the pilot friend where to go. Kori was already there waiting for them. A old woman explains that the people won't reveal the location they can't just go there on directions anyway. This is why Tynion does a masterful explanation that does fit with what Lobdell wrote. Lobdell had Jason say the All Caste was likely in another dimension, which is expanded on here saying that if it was on a map it would cross into other worlds. It also explains why Jason was sure only two people could have led the Untitled in since only someone that has the All Caste teachings in their heart can find it. Otherwise anyone that tries will die attempting to find it.
Roy shrugs the warning off and interestingly enough says he knows a little about what they taught Jason. Once they leave the old woman transforms into her true form: Essence. She seems determined to make them leave. Eight hours pass with Roy trying not to freeze to death as Kori flies overhead. He flashbacks to a memory of Jason mediating to try and block out the cold. While not a direct mention to it there was a part in #5 that shows how the boys deal with cold. Both were knocked into freezing water but only Roy seemed affected by it. In this story Roy notices a topless Jasons' chest glowing, something Jason never explains. He does tell Roy that the All Caste teach not to repress the darkness but accept it. To do good with it. Jason mutters under his breath that's what he's trying to do anyway. Apparently he still struggles with it.
Roy tries to recall what Jason said about accepting the darkness. Whether it's more than focusing on how cold he is really isn't explained. Either way Roy says it's not working for him. Kori tried to find anything but in the storm it was impossible to see. She's not impressed with the small size of Earth's largest mountains. Roy wants to keep moving, Kori on the other hand wonders if it's not best to go their separate ways since Jason decided to go without them. That perhaps they remind him too much of the darkness he's trying to escape. The idea upsets Roy because he thinks they might never see Jason again if they don't find him soon. Being with Jason and Kori has been the best time of his life, the only time he felt like his life was worth living. They embrace and Roy's happy to feel warm again.
I'm undecided on whether or not having Ducra appear to speak with her daughter is a good thing. Her spirit went to the other side. While she was in Jasons' dreams last issue it was never clear if it was really her or Jasons' mind. I'm willing to go with it and the idea of magic (which I don't think has ever been mentioned by name with the All Caste before.) Essence wants to know why her mother chose Jasons' side. It seems that Roy understanding a tiny bit of the teachings helped him get that far but Essence doubts it will get them further. Durca disagrees stating that Roy has a good heart and is being guided by his deep love for Jason who gave him something to fight for. Seeing that he's clinging to what Jason told him even in his sleep Essence decides to interfere.
This is done by stirring up bad memories to break Roy while he struggles to keep chanting the lesson. It's a nicely done bit with him struggling with his past and the art--mainly the panel of him crying--really sells it. I could have done without the glowing which sorta of ruined the moment when he overcomes it because he doesn't want to fail Jason. Waking up Roy suddenly has a strong feeling where to go and gets Kori to fly them there. They go into the Acres of All and soon are attacked by dino-monsters. They fight them only to be attacked by the biggest of the group that gets it's head lopped off by Jason. Roy's thrilled and tells him how awesome that was but Jason just tells him it's a dangerous place and "you and your friend should leave."
Naturally Roys' crushed, Kori is pissed that they came all that way, with Roy nearly dying from a fever, to be cast aside. She goes to chew him out when Jason stares at her in confusion admitting he has no idea who they are. The twist was kind of ruined months ago when the S'aru cover appeared and more so by this cover straight out telling you that his memories were getting messed with. Shocked Roy gets Jason to look at him to try and get him to say his name. Jason doesn't even remember his own name and S'aru appears (floating for some reason) to tell them he took Jasons' memories from him. More over Jason asked him to do it. Then he decides to show the memory of Jason asking. I have a seriously hard time buying this. While it was kind of hinted at with him muttering under his breath with Roy that he's having a hard time I just can't see him doing this. Even if he only meant to take a few memories away it's just stupid. Why would he want to forget things that can help him save not only his life but others? If he doesn't remember the Suzie Sus of the world then how can he know that their coming after him? Or how to stop someone he doesn't remember fighting?
Overall: The art is okay although there are some weird choices with Kori like her eyebrows and her powers acting like lightening. There are some odd looks to Jason and Roy too. Although Roys' dream had to be the best part. Some of the explanation like Essence explaining to herself that she changed into a old woman to fool them was very clunky. I liked the interaction between the characters although I'm not sure if I like some of the stuff done with the All Caste. I know Jasons' not-tattoo from his training appeared and glowed last issue but that was in a dream. Are they really making that canon now? I never had a problem with Jason dealing with more mystic based things because he came back from the dead. But this seems kinda of pointless. More so since Jason never says one thing about it despite Roy mentioning it twice.
I was hoping Jason would lose his memory by some other means but for him to beg for his bad memories to be removed is bullshit. Like I said above he can't be so stupid that he doesn't realize he needs those memories to survive. This feel VERY out of character for him. While I'm not worried about him regaining them at some point it rubs me the wrong way. Pretty much every memory Jason has was related in some way to darkness so S'aru took them all. Because he wanted some ironic twist that Jason told Roy about accepting the darkness when he was going to get rid of it? What the hell? I get that Jason didn't realize all his memories would be taken but there's nothing to inform the reader that things are that bad for Jason. Last issue he patched things up with Bruce, 17 had him bonding with everyone besides Dick and Damian. This should be the best time of his life outside his days as Robin. But he's upset that those Robin days might be tainted because of Joker? Outside one line to Bruce he hasn't seemed that upset. In fact Bruce put his fears to ease. Unless Bruce was an asshole to him in Batman and Red Hood #20 there's no reason for him to be like this. He doesn't even seem fazed on the jet at the beginning.
There's no build up to this choice and the story suffers for it. Jason Todd, the guy that previous had such a strong instinct to survive that he crawled out of his grave? The one that promised Kori he'd always be there for her? That had willpower to train himself enough to face Bruce--just says screw it, this is too hard? Why the hell would he give up? That just ruined what would otherwise be a strong issue. That's the true WTF, the fact Jason would actually do this. I should be worried that he'll never get his memories back not frustrated over how he randomly decides to lose them based on things that were never properly built up. Unless it's a mislead it's just cringe worthy.
As soon as I read Ethiopia something clicked in my memory. Since I was too lazy to find my DITF trade I googled it to check to see if I was right. I was, Ethiopia was featured in DITF was the place Jasons' mother was working and the place he died in. This means that Bruce goes back there while grieving Damian. Hmm.
S'aru, the guy that secretly broke the rules to view their memories tells them all that he broke another rule and Jason won't be able to come back? WTF? Who's going to care since he's the only living member of the All Caste besides Jason and the exiled Essence? Plus for a guy that said he couldn't break the rules he sure caved pretty fast once Jason asked and never bothered to tell him what he was doing BEFORE HE DID IT. So no, he can't place all the blame on Jason.
What the hell happened to the jet? Are you telling me the issue after he has that horrible nightmare about his rage hurting people whether they deserve it or not he has no problem killing not only the bad guys but apparently the pilots as well? Because I don't see them mentioned anywhere.
If you have to keep the All Caste teachings in your heart then how did Talia bring Jason to them? Was she a former student? Unlikely since it's said several times that Jason is their first human pupil in hundreds of years and first to survive the test in a thousand. Maybe it means if you honor their teachings? Otherwise they never should have be able to reach the Acres of All. For that matter how did Jason reach it this time if he came there with the purpose of ridding himself of them?
Roy can see Jason glowing even though Jasons' back is to him?
Tynion had to rewrite this, didn't he? I seriously think Jason was supposed to get scarred from DOTF just to make his reasoning for getting rid of his memories make sense. Also having Roy be able to accept his past--the one member who's talked about their past the least with the others--over the guy that's been dealing with it from issue one? What?