I pre-ordered this but I saw it at a book store too. Which really surprised me since I rarely find it there. I couldn't wait to read it and I figured why not support the series a little more. I pre-ordered futures issues so I might not get anymore at the store. Partly because they one seem to get one issue of this series at a time. On to the review.
I'm not sure how we went from last issue with the general being held at gun point to Jason just relaxing as their under attack. I suppose the general had other things to worry about and Jason knew he wasn't the one in danger. Artemis and Jason exchange information with Artemis not wanting to believe Akila went rogue again. Akila soon reveals the Bow and claims she had to deceive them to open up the Amazons eyes to the evil around them. Artemis and the other Amazons are naturally stunned at this turn of events.
As for me, I want to know how Akila knew the plane had Artemis on it and who her friends were. Would the "Dark Trinity" be world news by now? They just got together and the Amazons have been distancing themselves from others. Naturally Artemis doesn't want to kill Akila again but summons her axe. Bizarro surprises everyone (seriously I wasn't expecting him) by bringing the refugees to the Reds. Doing so brings the mountain down around Akila, for a moment.
Deemed worthy of the Bow of Ra Artemis uses it to stop Akila and asks Bizarro to take Akila away before she explodes. The Bana Mighdall ask Artemis what they should do. She thinks they should take in the refugees and stop living separate lives. Bizarro doesn't feel so good and the little kid he helped thinks he's dead.
Overall: I wish this was a little longer so we could have gotten more on the Amazons, Akila and her history with Artemis. I heard about a tie in coming up and if true I understand why this arc was cut short. Akila had potential as an enemy, as Artemis' love and could have worked even more than she already has as a counterpoint to Jason's' death. It feels like we still have a lot of unanswered questions with her. How involved are the gods with her role as Shim'Tar? Why was she chosen when the Bow didn't chose her?
But that wasn't what the story was about. Hardly anything was left of the real Akila. No, this wasn't her story it was about Artemis letting go. For her to know she made the right choice. I think it was obvious Artemis already knew she just didn't want to believe it. Not when she had Akila back and it got rid of the guilt she felt.
This is a far better take of the Bana Mighdall Amazons than the original. I enjoyed Pérez's Wonder Woman but that take never sat well with me. I'd like to sincerely thank Scott Lobdell for writing this version that kept the morals of their Themysciran sisters. That actually gave Artemis more of a backstory. It's seriously one hell of a difference.
Artemis knowing Jason would be alive after the crash--despite her first impression being that he was fragile--shows some growth. I still love her effortlessly holding him back. Soy does some solid art when they met up and the way the fight weaving around each other like a well oiled machine. I wanted Jason to do more as he's yet to really win any battles on his own for sometime. Since this was truly Artemis' fight he shouldn't be the one taking her down though. Teaming up along with Bizarro really showed how they have each others backs.
The All Blades need to be discussed as they get explained further. I was thrilled that Lobdell mentions that they only work against magic since other writers have just used them without understanding them. I still can't get over Pak having Jason use them against a normal guy in an ally. But he said he was told that was the weapons Jason was using which I always assumed was because Dick had a gun in Grayson. I think this mention retcons all stories he used them against non-magical foes. I'm okay with that.
Anyway, we get the first mention of them being drawing their power from Jason's soul. Now I don't recall Tynion mentioning this as I remember being pretty annoyed that Tynion never explained how Jason used the swords or why his chest suddenly glowed. He did have Bronze Tiger pointlessly changing into a tiger-man and it draining his soul though. Previously Jason used blood to strengthen the blades. Since their linked to magic it makes sense as lots of lore has blood being a powerful resource for magic.
While Jason was previously tortured he could be hurting from that but I doubt it since it doesn't hinder him from jumping around even after he's weakened. It's never mentioned in the text and honestly I took the torture Jason being punched (maybe stabbed) a bit. Seeing that he wasn't responding (Jason was in the middle of a PTSD episode) and them giving up. Which is the only way I can explain him being that limber.
I think the soul bit will be important as he's says he's weakened and decides he can use them in the battle anymore. We also get this bit:
Jason Todd: And draw their power from my soul. Nice "gift", eh? So I better make this quick.
There's a mocking quality to the quotes immediately followed by him deciding to hurry up when using them. It reminds me of a section from a podcast with Scott Lobdell when he said this:
And Jason has been dead and has come back. He's going to be going through something when he's not even sure how much of him came back. Does he have a soul? Maybe he does. Is it still in the Lazarus? Is it somewhere? He's going to find himself getting closer to Bizarro because he's going to feel them as kindred spirits.
Is this along the same lines ? Does it actually drain his soul? Why would the All Caste want him to have the All Blades then? Or does he think it only works for a limited time because some thing is wrong with him?
I've LOVE the call back to the weapon choosing who is worthy. It makes sense and ties everything together. It's why a 16 year old Artemis couldn't just take the Bow. I had wondered why Akila had gone mad when she seemed okay just after becoming Shim'Tar. The weapon wasn't meant for her and a sane part of her knew that when she was dying.
I adored Jason asking what she'd do with it and Artemis' nonchalant "I'm keeping it, why?" reply. This is the highly dangerous weapon she's told him about when they first met and they've been trying to stop from being used since then. This makes both of their reactions priceless. She's shrugging of any potential perils because it's hers.
I'm going to do a review about the whole arc to include more thoughts and see how it holds up. I have thoughts on the potential relationship being teased but for now let me say that I was uneasy about it. Mainly because it's way too soon especially with Akila dead again. Thankfully it didn't go to far. A hint is fine but I rather have a longer build up to a better pay off. In case I didn't make it clear I did adore this issue.
Say What?: Jason still wants to keep his promise not to kill because he thinks Bruce will hold him to it outside Gotham? But Bruce said "My city. My rules." This implies he was only enforcing it because of the location and Jason going under cover. Plus everyone else is killing so how would Bruce even know? Would he really investigate every body to ensure Jason wasn't the one that killed them? It would be a little harder if Jason used a sword. Plus this is the area Jason died in, if there's anywhere in the world Bruce should be lenient on it'd be the place that triggers his PTSD.
Jason saying death changes a person makes sense from a poetic point of view. It doesn't quite work with what happened with Akila. She was out of control prior to her death and was the same when she came back. While Jason himself changed due to the trauma/Lazarus Pit he calmed down some since then.
Did You Notice?: Akila doesn't have her tiara on at the start of the issue but it shows up once she starts firing arrows. I think this is a mistake although her scars show up too.
The wrappings on her right arm seem to burst when Artemis summons Mistress. I'm not sure why but it looks cool.
The sound effect for Artemis pushing Jason is "shove." I love it.
The All Blades have changed appearance based on the artists. It's hard to see all the detail. It doesn't look quite the same as Rocafort's design but closer than some takes.
The panel of Jason and Artemis being REALLY close? It looks like a callback to #10 with Akila and Artemis. Both are comforting her.
Questions Asked?: How involved are the gods? Why wasn't Akila stopped from taking the Bow like Artemis was when she was little? It's been mentioned a couple times that the gods abandoned them. Why? If they did why could the Bow chose who was worthy? Is it sentient like Mistress seems to be.
What was up with Mistress responding to Akila before? There seemed to be a plot about Akila controlling it that was dropped.