This one gave me a whole lot of questions on just what is going on in the story. How did Jason come back to life? Who the hell knows because the explanation keeps changing.
This united front by the Untitled will never cease being weird to me. I mean it was shown in the Essence back up that they weren't all on great terms as one of them was preparing to fight the others, not just Red Hood and his allies. What was it Jason said about them back in #4?
Jason Todd: They never travel together. It's too risky. They usually hide in positions of authority in order to make it easier to cover their tracks.
I wouldn't mind the change so much if we had a scene showing why they decided to change their M.O. I mean they obviously had to since the member Jason killed didn't know why the hell he was investigating her. Wouldn't she have known if the rest of her evil family decided to break their truce to kill Ducra? If they decided to work together then why leave her out of the loop? For that matter what's up with Jasons' chosen one status? If he's the only one that can fight them because of his "destiny" then why did the Untitled murder most of the All Caste? Yeah they weren't thrilled with them but they could have done that BEFORE they found their champion. Or you know, waited until the mortal died then killed them off. I could understand it if it still was Essence that led them there or killed the All Caste just to get Jason to help her kill them. But this retcon and arc just raises too many questions.
I find it hard to believe anyone would buy the crap Bronze Tiger is shoveling. Then again I've never been that impressed with Tynions' version of Jason Todd. Who, memory loss or not, always seems to be eternally gullible. I mean really, telling Jason that Kori and Roy aren't to be trusted over the LEAGUE OF ASSASSINS? The same people that took him against his will, that he knows has more than one member with a screw loose and kill for a living. You know, the killing he was horrified to find out he did in the annual? He knows his friends love him. These people sans maybe Ben don't seem to care beyond what they want from him. That's still the only real reason Jason lost his memory, right? Because it's the only way this story kind of makes sense, at least as far as the Outlaws breaking up. He actually believes this because he found out his friends lied to him? Really, he puts "lying to protect you" over "we want you to led people to kill for money even though you were upset over taking lives"? Because he's far more causal around these killers than he should be and not nearly as pissed as he was with the Outlaws for keeping things from him. Why is he acting more trusting and willing to listen to one of his kidnappers than his friends? Lead him down a darker path? WTF?! The LOA IS the darker path out of the two!
We have another retcon and this one gives me a headache. I've mentioned some of this here, basically how things changed from writer to writer. The prime example here being Talia Al Ghul. She's not the caring person that simply took Jason to the All Caste in hopes that he could live up to his potential to become a good man. Tynion made her the woman that decided "why not bring back my beloveds' dead son just so he can run the league of assassins." Seriously what the fuck? WHY would she even think to do that? Why Jason of all people? Because he was connected to Bruce? Because he died and it'd be easier to get him then another sidekick? Was he a back up in case Bruce turned her down? This doesn't make any sense to me, the position would be secondary to Ras anyway and he said okay to this? He must have agreed if the LOA are all fine with it. The thing is I don't see why she'd go against her love of Bruce to plan this behind his back. She couldn't have thought he'd be fine with it. Just what a 15 year old did that impressed them so much isn't clear because nothing Jasons' done in this arc shows any of that potential.
I'm also not sure about Talia being the one that brought Jason back. At first I thought this was a mislead since it goes against what Lobdell and Tomasi wrote. But the odd memories S'aru showed (which managed to feel fake despite him being the memory expert) seem to go along with what Ben says. I just have a hard time buying anything the All Caste, Untitled and the LOA say. Tynion could be doing this to confirm that story but a few things keep me from believing it. Instead I get the feeling the LOA is working with the All Caste. Not just because of the obvious connections of Al Ghuls/Ducra and the copper. Jason starts to say "Roy said--" when Ben gives him the Talia brought you back crap. Not "my friends said" no this is more personal but also suggest they told him something specific, a different version of the events. Which wouldn't make sense if S'arus' memories were real as past Jason asked Talia why she brought him back and she said she was keeping him in the dark. Of course it also makes no sense because Kori/Roy would have known it was fake memory and Jason doesn't seem aware of S'aru showing the memories! Gah!
It gets worse since according to Tynion he talked on the phone with Tomasi over Batman and Red Hood #20. In that issue, out of no where, Bruce suddenly believes Jason came back from the dead through other means (i.e. not the pit) and tries to bring out suppressed memories by triggering his trauma. Bruce has nothing to base this by on panel so one assumes they talked off panel for him to reach this conclusion. If Talia did bring Jason back don't you think he'd know about it? If not from Jasons' stay at the manor after DOTF then from his return during UTH when Bruce asked him how he's back? Or hell Jason could have told Bruce how stupid he was under Tomasi by saying "you just threw everything away for nothing because Talia threw me in the pit!" Since the pits seem to be gone that would be the end of that.
...Kori just so happened to have a machine that could bring Essence there because there happens to be smoke animals on her planet. Saying that's convenient would be generous because that's damn contrived. If it has to be something to force her to come use the device Jason used to banish her! Since she's an alien Kori would be more likely to know how to work it and reverse the affect. Or we could simplify it more since Essence was actually trying to help them and have her look for Kori! Yeah her anger at her treatment is more in character but she wanted to find them last issue! While I agree that Kori would be able to tell Essence cared about Jason the wording here is kind of clumsy. She points out that Essence was pretty useless in #21 and she needs answers. Essence realizes Roys' not there and learns what he's doing. I have to ask what she was doing since she's trying to do things her own way. Oh and apparently Jason losing his memory was a plan Ducra and the Untitled had? I don't know why the hell they'd want that in story. What about the LOA? Aren't they working with Ducra due to her ties to Ras? Why didn't most of them believe Jason lost his memories? Little makes sense here.
Ben shows Jason the city taking him to a spot selling food and weapons on the same street. Only the apple Jason wants to eat is a poisoned apple and he's stopped from eating it. I'm not sure Tynion intended for this to be more than showcasing his city but I like that Jasons' first thoughts are food. Under Lobdell the character mentioned that eating was always a big deal since he never had much food growing up. One of his greatest fears used to be starving to death. Then we get more "amusing" character abuse for Jason for the sake of December Greystone's character development: ie. he's an asshole. Really, you want to mess with the guy you're trying to put in command? Cheshire shows up to prove she's still a psycho the LOA can barely control as she murders three "hunky" men for laughs. Just think Jason, these are the people that you'd have to put up with. That alone should make him say hell no.
I mean what is up with Tynions' version of Jason Todd? He just puts up with this shit and stands by helplessly as Cheshire gets in his space asking timidly for help? I'm being completely honest when I say the Jason parts are hard to read through. This hasn't reached the unbearable level yet but it's a struggle nonetheless. Jason is this meek gullible guy that might as well be a new character. He's lost in the background as the LOA characters and the city it's self are given more respect than him. This is the guy their trying to convince to fight on their side and half of them act rude to him? Plans for defenses are talked about and the council are holding a meeting with Jason going along. Rictus thinks their fine since no weapon on earth could break through the gates...only Roys' invented just that kind of weapon.
Essence talks about the Well of Sins wanting to take back their powers? I'm not sure why it would want that since it didn't stop them before. Wouldn't they get stronger from the source of their powers? I'm not thrilled with Ras charming Ducra because she never struck me as the type to put up with his bull. Or that he'd refuse to use a pit out of honor because of the way he's been written under Morrison, like trying to sacrifice his own grandson to save himself. Now the latest add on has Essence implanted with "the essence of pure life" that for whatever reason she was forced to expel before she could use it against her uncle (the leader that forced the powers on them.) I think Essence refusal to rid herself of the dark power makes sense for why Ducra banished her but I'm iffy on Ducra ridding herself of her Untitled side. Why did she keep her past a secret from Jason then? Why was he taught to use the darkness, to accept it if she just ditched her baggage? Now that I think about it Essence shouldn't have been lamenting her "corruption" if she willingly kept the powers of the Untitled.
This doesn't work, we know the Untitled can be stopped by other means because Jason has killed one! Essence knows he killed one and said so! Of course she killed one too but that's forgotten about. Why the hell does the league want Jason then? It can't be because Talia suddenly thought he'd work as a leader! Remember she made plans long before Jason went to the All Caste. I mean Talia had enough faith in a kid to save the world and take over her family business? That's pretty weak ass reason especially given how he's written here. My guess is that the light that Essence couldn't keep was given to Jason--it's why his chest glowed. Likely why Ducra taught him lessons we know she never learned herself about accepting the darkness. She wasn't telling him how to deal with his inner demons but how to fight her family. Anyway back to the Jason plot we finally--FINALLY get the answer to why they want him to lead even though their all badass assassins. The reason is stupid. Yes it's still that Talia told them to but also because she said Jason would know how to defeat them. Jason Todd who I remind you can't remember more than a week of his life. Great thinking with the memory wipe Ducra, I can believe the Untitled wanted this but not that she'd agree to it.
Jason tells them how stupid this is and Roy choses to attack the gate with a ridiculous amount of weapons that would make Liefield mourn the lost chance to draw them.
Overall: This is just bad. This is the plot dictating the characters' actions not the characters' actions dictating the plot. It feels like the writer wants to use the city of the assassins more than the characters. As a result everything centers around that even if the characters don't work with it. The reasoning for the things they have done things are paper thin outside Kori and Roy wanting to save Jason. Ben said he'll show Jason how leading them is worthwhile but instead he shows him around the city of killers. The council mostly act like dicks then at dinner Ben gives the weakest excuse to his questions. Some vague hope that the boy with amnesia will know what to do against their enemies. In other words Ben showed him nothing to change his mind just shrugs and says the Untitled are more evil. Oh and tells him why he has to do this moments before their attacked for no real reason.
I wouldn't mind Tynion changing some things around if this was canon from 20 years ago but we're 22 issues in and he's already changing things from Lobdells' run? The Untitled/All Caste mostly took up the first arc. Why is everyone acting like this Well of Sins is the only thing that can stop them when we know Jason already slayed one of them? Kori knew this, Essence found out later, the Untitled knew one of their members was killed and assumed Red Hood was working with Essence. Did they get selective memory loss? Some bits makes sense like the LOA protecting the Well of Sins. Even Ras training with Ducra and the link between the well and the pits he uses. But the main characters don't come off great in this outside Kori using her head to get information. Roy doesn't think things through and Jason just goes through the motions. It's not fun and I want this arc to be over with and actually focus on the leads. We only got Jasons' thoughts once in the annual and it's hardly enough to get why he acts the way he does. The memory loss has long since worn thin and hasn't added anything of value to the way Jason acts. Just a means to the end of the plot and continues to baffle me why anyone would think it was a good idea for the chosen one to not know what to do.
Did You Notice?: I didn't want to put this above since it's more of a visual thing that sort of give the reader a feel for the character relationships. I know I list skipping over important scenes to move on with the plot as something I disliked from Lobdell but Tynion seems to be doing the same thing. First he moved from Jason wanting/accepting the memory loss to Jason telling us that he HAD to know the truth the very next issue without actually showing how that shift came about. Then we have the scene with Jason and Ben. Jason seems far more trusting of Ben than he should be even if he doesn't believe everything fully it's obvious he's already leaning in the direction the LOA wants because he's willing to listen. Far more than he was willing to listen to either Kori or Roy. Instead of wearing his uniform and being uncooperative Jason is relaxing in nothing but a pair of red sleep pants. He even calls Bronze Tiger "Ben" when we have nothing to show why he'd be comfortable referring to the leader of his kidnappers by his given name. Because he was the nicest and said they used to be buds? Yeah that's pretty much it.
Meanwhile Ben is in tiger mode in a scene where he should be trying to appeal to Jason on a friendly level. It makes him look like he's preparing to fight should Jason resist making the relaxed attitude Jason gives really out of place. Not that Ben should be that alert since Jason is in the middle of the city of assassins and has no memory. Plus transforming eats away at his soul so he's destroying his soul for no reason.
On another note the guns at the marketplace are haphazardly thrown in a bin like someone would sell fruit. Not really sure that's the best way to sell them.
Ben pays off the guy Cheshire pissed off for killing three of his best men.
So Bronze Tiger has his own tiger?
Say What?: Cheshire (and likely all the LOA) know Jasons' last name? Given the small amount of time that passed since Jason died and Bruce Waynes' public connection to Batman INC. it wouldn't take much for them to figure out who Batman is. More than that Shiva knows he was Robin based on her "failed boy superhero" comment. Although it's likely she could see the similar fighting style of the Robins.
According to Shiva Ras doesn't currently rule the LOA. What happened between INC. and this we'll have to see but this would put Jason in head of everything if he has no one to answer to.
December complains about bleeding himself too much for days to protect the fountain yet he wasted his magic by cutting himself to dump apples on Jasons' head? Great thinker there.
One of the Untitled mentioned an associate who assumed Kori would have to help for Roy to build anything powerful enough to break the gates. Was it Hugo Strange? Seems unlikely so who was it?
Essence says her uncle forced them to drink from the well of sins but the art in RHATO #7 shows the mist of the well bonding with them, forcing it's self on Ducra. Editors' notes are even shown here so I'm not sure if there was a misunderstanding with the art or not. Essence also refers to Roy and Kori by name?
Questions Raised?: A lot. Most of them are above. But couldn't Kori use this smoke animal machine on the other Untitled if it worked on Essence? In theory at least since it was destroyed. I mean they act like nothing works on these guys.
Oh and what kept the Untitled from destroying the Well before Ras protected it? Ducra already had her Acres of All so no one was said to be protecting it.