After the captivating events of Batman and Red Hood #21 (you know, the issue that hasn't come out yet... I hate when books do this) Jason is flying out of Ethiopia when his plan gets hijacked... Bane style, but jokes on the hijackers, Jason does some violent things to them off screen, and later both Roy and Kori are standing in the middle of a wrecked plane, wondering where the hell Jason actually is.
Roy and Kori ask the locals if they've seen Jason, or know anything of the All-Caste. Bringing up the All-Caste wasn't the best of ideas, as it causes the people to scatter, pretending not to understand them. it's not until an old woman approaches the two, until they realize why they're being ignored. The woman tells them that the entrance only opens up to those who have learned the All-Caste's ways, as if she was trying to convince them to give up. Luckily for Roy and Kori, Roy sat in on some of Jason's meditation, so he figures he knows enough to get the entrance to open... something that doesn't necessarily please the old woman, who is actually Essence in disguise.
Both Roy and Kori make their way, albeit slowly (mostly Roy's fault) through the heavy snow, eventually having to rest, despite how determined Roy is to find Jason. Roy figures that his time with both Jason and Kori has been the only thing to give his life meaning, thus his determination to find Jason, who has had it rough recently.
While the two sleep, Essence sneaks up on the two, but is confronted by the ghost of her mother, Ducra. Essence doesn't seem to be pleased that Ducra is seemingly allowing those two to find their way to the All-Caste, as she enters Roy's subconscious in an effort to "persuade" him to turn back.
Essence manifests in Roy's head as a real bad dream comprised of who I believe is Roy's father, Green Arrow, Killer Croc and Hugo Strange. Just telling him how he's a screw up, a drunk, etc. etc. But, surprisingly, Roy takes Jason's words about the All-Caste's teachings to heart, and uses it to sort of defeat his demons in the dream, which leads him to wake up with the knowledge of the All-Caste's location.
Kori flies Roy into the mountain we saw real early in the series, but it doesn't take long for the two to get surrounded by some serious monsters. The two fight off all they can, but monster gets close to taking a swipe at them, until Jason shows up, having stabbed the creature in the back...
Jason is acting a bit funny though. He has no recollection of who Roy or Kori are. Initially, they think someone had done something to Jason, but the mysterious S'aru shows up, and says that Jason had done it to himself.
We then see Jason confronting S'aru, sometime before Roy and Kori showed up, claiming he can't deal with all the pain in his life anymore. Every time he gets closer to getting away from it, something worse happens to him... So, S'aru offers up a solution... taking all of Jason's memories.
Great start for James Tynion. Often, when writers take over a book from someone else, the voices of the characters can feel a bit off, but here, Kori felt like Kori, Roy like Roy, and the little we actually got of Jason seemed pretty on the nose as well. I also enjoyed how this run was started off with the book's past history. The All Caste hasn't been revisited in a while, and was one of the more interesting elements Lobdell introduced, so coming back to it was a smart move in my opinion. The ending is weird, but in the way that I'm really interested to see how this shakes out. You can't just completely mind wipe the main character... you just can't... or can you? I don't know! That's why I really want to read #20 already, I just want to know now!
Mentioned this on twitter earlier this morning, the art was a mixed bag. There were some bright spots like the dream sequence, but past that... eh. Faces looked off, and at times I just looked at Roy and it just didn't look like him. Weird, weird facial expressions. Then there were some elements that were just flat out wrong. Kori starts the issue with pupils in her eyes, which... aren't supposed to be there, then by the end, they're solid green again. Also, for some reason, Kori's eyebrows now go from their normal position, up her forehead, and merge into her hair. Why? I don't know... I'm reading this, just talking to the artist (who is obviously no where to be found) asking "What are you doing? This is wrong, this isn't part of the design? Why did you do such a thing?"
The Bottom Line:
This issue leaves things at a really interesting place really makes you stand up and pay attention to it. I'm just sort of asking myself where Tynion is going with this, and I really can't wait to see more. Tynion has teased a bunch of cool stuff on his tumblr that is bound to come up, and it all starts here, so hell yeah, I'm on board. The only thing is the art... hopefully at least the character issues I pointed out get fixed, because I've definitely seen worse, and at least would like to see the characters drawn correctly.