I've been putting this off for awhile. The way I feel about this run I think this arc would have been my cut off point if the new writer wasn't announced. I'm not as mad with this as I was with the Giffin/DeMatteis run on Booster Gold but I'm at the same frustration levels.
Speaking of Giffin/DeMatteis get ready for the two hit wonder.
Okay let's do this.
As is the case with most stories featuring Talia Al Ghul after the reboot I have no clue into her thought process. Judging this solely on this story I'd be side eying her choices and her arrogance for thinking she knows best. Taking other stories into account I start to wonder if she has clones or a split personality. Talia apparently decided to bring Jason back in the pit and as I probably mentioned in more than one previous review it doesn't make sense with Batman Inc., Batman and Red Hood 20 or even this series. She tells Ben not to worry about Jasons' "master" that he's his own master. First of all Talia ALWAYS thought about Bruce and how Jasons' return would affect him. That was a major conflict for why she helped him out then why she partly agreed with her father to keep it a secret. Second of all if Jason is his own master then why the hell would you think he'd agree to join up with the LOA?
Ra's asks the same thing I've been asking most of this arc. There's the standard villain speak on power and a Harry Potter horcrux like twist about the lead. I think? Then Ra's goes off script to become another standard baddie. I really thought Tynion would at least write the freaking Demons' Head right. He did a good job in the Villains' month issue but he misses the fact that the guy used to have some honor. I'll grant you that the Al Ghuls have lost a lot of that in their portrayals over the last few years but this? Ra's going on how he'll murder Kori and Roy in front of Jason then kill him. What the hell is this? You know a lot of people dump on Judd Winick but do you know how he wrote Ra's Al Ghul in regards to his treatment of Jason? There was a respect there, for Bruce yes but for a boy that had brain damage that needed to be taken care of. It was only when Ra's suspected Jason had his soul poisoned by the pit that he sent people to kill him. This lacks all class and reduces him to another psycho.
More padding that lengths this thing with Obi-Wan Ducra and Essence.
All the Outlaws are captured and Cheshire of all people points out that Ra's is more kill happy than usual. I guess this is supposed to give a reason for his cruelty above with the vague implications that the powers might be corrupting him further. But all I can think of is the fact that Ra's always wanted to kill most of the population because he wanted to start anew. Also, if they can take down multiple Untitled then his power isn't that impressive even if there's now another new claim that they shared their power. Anyway Ben reluctantly agrees with Shiva that Ra's is their real master.
The Outlaws have a conversation about their issues and Jason dialogue is...it's just bad. The only saving grace is Roy who still remains the most in character, which isn't saying much. With his friends prompting Jason makes himself remember (which S'aru said he could do) to everyones' amazement he does. It's good to have him back (about damn time too) and I love the character. He's one of my all time favorites but taking out Shiva in three panels?! Not even Cassandra "the worlds' greatest fighter" Cain did that! Hell I think Tims' way of defeating Shiva was bullshit but it still makes more sense than this! (*1) Ben goes to fight Jason as ordered telling Cheshire to do what she wants to do ie. save the other Outlaws. Ben is either too great a fighter or Jason doesn't want to fight. Whatever the reason Kori punches him instead. Then they go to fight the others while Jason does the B.S. with the glowy swords. More retcons with the "purification" being needed by removing his memories. Ducra claims that now Jason is walking into his death.
Oh yeah and apparently Jason was in on the whole mindwipe to make the fight possible. Bullshit that makes Jason horrible to his friends in hindsight because OF COURSE he couldn't tell them before he did it. Like I said, that's bullshit.
Overall: ...This is awful. I have read far better fan stories than this. In fact memory loss plots are a easy way to make a story only this is the first I've read that doesn't use it to properly explore the characters' identity. I've been over this so many times I don't know what I can say. The Cheshire stuff is still a huge change from her batshit insane maiming personality. I still don't know what Talia was thinking and I still don't think this arc was needed. What Tynion is trying to do and how he's trying to write this story honestly bewilders me. As for the "two hit" fight? I'm not sure if Tynion thought this was a great moment for Jason or was just in a hurry to end this. I'm leaning towards the latter because it really doesn't add anything. Nothing but a call back to a early comment that really doesn't feel worth it. Fights are enjoyable and more impressive if there's actual effort involved. Especially with one of the worlds' great fighters if not the greatest fighter. Jason's good, he could take on Batman, Nightwing and Green Arrow in the last 'verse. But come on, this was incredibly lazy.
The reveal of Jason being in on the mindwipe felt like someone trying to write themselves out of a corner. Tynion could have focused on the team and created something of his own. Instead he chose to try to undo the previous run. Maybe Tynion writes better with Snyder around, maybe it helps if he created the characters. But if this is a showcase of his writing skills I don't want to spend money on Batman Eternal.
1* For those that don't know Shiva sent a riddle/invite to fight Tim. Not long after she arrived she collapsed. Tim found out where she was staying and poisoned her hotel chocolate before they met. I call it bullshit because there's no way he would know she would eat it despite his claim that she would because she's "only human." I sure as hell don't bother with those (I usually have better stuff anyway) and Shiva doesn't strike me as a chocolate lover. Winick did a similar version with Jason which made more sense since the more trained fighter had a known weakness for a particular drink. Regardless what was shown in this issue with the Jason/Shiva fight was more bullshit than Tim winning against Cass because he didn't "use a style of fighting."
Questions Raised?: Same as always. Why Talia instantly jumped at the idea to make Jason the heir of the LOA despite not knowing him well yet pushing Damian/Bruce into running it with her in other books. Tomasi worked closely with Morrison and talked with Tynion when he used Jason. Damian seemed under the impression that Talia brought Jason back and Alfred didn't correct him. Yet Bruce suddenly thought there was another means he could trigger Jason into remembering by exposing him to the site of his death? Why bring that up if it's just Talia tossing him in the pit?
A year ago? DC can't get it's timeline down. According to Lobdell when the series started Jason was taken to train with the All Caste "a year and a half ago." Tomasi claims Damian met Bruce a year or so ago yet still kept him 10 despite the fact he arrived on his tenth birthday. Snyder claims the Joker had his face cut off a year ago (again Damian was still 10.) If Jason was thrown in the pit a year ago then when the hell were Tim and Damian sidekicks? Also wouldn't he be 16 when he came back meaning he's 17 now?
What were the extent of Jasons' skills when he had his memory loss? Because Tynion never explained what he retained or how he was able to do things. Jason seemed to be able to do things based on whatever whim the story took.
Did You Notice?: The art isn't up to the standards Rocafort set but what truly bothers me is that Jason isn't as young as he should be. According to #20 Jason was small as a Robin, he looks too old in the art when he returns.