Posts tagged ‘Ra’s Al Ghul’

Detective Annual 11 – Azrael causes problems, the Riddler goes for an old standard, and Oracle teams with Looker


There are three stories in Detective Annual 11 (2009), the first, which is also the longest, being a continuation of a story from this year’s Batman Annual.


The story, by Fabian Nicieza and Tom Mandrake, deals with another secret society, this one out to raise a demonic spirit through the seven deadly sins, and the sacrifice of children descended from earlier cult members.


Batman and the Question work on it together from their side.  Azrael has his own agenda, and Robin has gone in disguise as one of the children, and already been kidnapped.  Renee does not take long to realize that it is Nightwing now wearing the Batman costume.


Azrael learns that the sacrifice depends on the children being of the blood of the earlier ones, which of course means that, should Robin get sacrificed, the spell will not work.


Damian does break free, and his identity as Robin is exposed.  The evil cultists try to lure him back.  I’m not sure that sending an aggressively naked older woman is the best way to lure a 10 year old boy, even if it’s Damian.


But it’s Azrael to the rescue anyway, and he joins with Robin as they take down the cultists, in a manner as overtly violent as only Damian and an Azrael can be.


Batman and the Question are rushing to the scene.  The cultists are in a penthouse, and the story gets a moment of levity as Batman sends Renee up to the roof quickly.


Frankly, this story failed to grab me, even with Mandrake’s art.   I do like Harvey Bullock’s crude way of explaining how he knew Renee was the Question, and there are some other good moments.


The story ends with both the villains and the heroes angry with Azrael.  I have never liked any version of that character, which probably explains why I don’t care for a long story featuring him.


There is a very cute 2-page “L’il Gotham” story, by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen.  Not much in the way of plot, the Riddler does a variant of the St. Ives riddle song, though calling it Poison Ives.  A staggering amount of cameos in this, for only being two pages.  Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Commissioner Gordon, Batman, Batwoman, Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, as well as the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Clayface, Mad Hatter, Joker, Scarecrow, Black Mask, Croc, Hush, Ra’s Al Ghul, and even the original Ventriloquist, Arnold Wesker, with Scarface.

Of the three stories in this issue, it’s sad that I enjoyed this 2 page piece more than the others.


The final story in the issue, by Amanda McMurray and Kelly Jones, features a team-up between Oracle and Looker.


There is a bad guy who thinks he is a vampire, but isn’t, and who is obsessed with Barbara Gordon, though we never find out why.  Looker is unaware that Barbara is Oracle, and is kept in the dark. Looker has become a vampire herself during her time with the Outsiders, so she is the perfect one to take down a faker.


The ending of the story leaves more questions than answers, and was clearly intended to be followed up.  As far as I know, it never was.




Detective 853 – the concluding half of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”


Detective 853 (April 2009) has the second half of Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”, with art by Andy Kubert.  The story is a thematic sister to Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, and exists sort of on its own, as a two-part story outside normal continuity, but also fits neatly into what is currently occurring with Batman.  The first half was published in the previous issue of Batman.


As with the first half, the story is set at Batman’s funeral, with friends and enemies in attendance.  While the first issue gave a lot of time to a couple of stories, this issue give a number of characters a brief opportunity to tell their versions of how Batman died.


As well as Betty Kane, shown in the original Bat-Girl outfit for the first time since 1978, eulogies are given by the Mad Hatter, the Joker, Dick Grayson, when he was still Robin, Clayface, Harvey Bullock and Ra’s Al Ghul.


Superman’s speech ends this section, as Batman starts to become aware of what is happening.


He suspects that he is having a near-death experience, and the voice that has been with him throughout this,now identified as his mother, tells him that this is true.


The story becomes a meditation on what Batman is, what he stands for.  Batman cannot ever simply retire and live happily ever after.  He is about never giving up, so Batman can only die in action.


He asks if he is going to heaven or hell, but the woman replies neither. He does not get those options.  He gets to be Batman, that’s enough.  As the story reaches it end, it takes on the Goodnight Moon narrative, as batman bids good-bye to the cave and the car.  Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and his villains – Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul and Poison Ivy shown.  The art mixes past and present versions, creating an eternal Batman.


And it ends as Martha Wayne gives birth to Bruce.  His death takes him back to his birth, and the cycle begins again.

It serves as a reflection on a character that can never be killed off, in a medium that is so easy to re-read.  Endings launch beginnings, and everything comes around eventually.

Detective 840 – Ra’s Al Ghul wants the entire globe


Detective 840 (March 2008) has an epilogue for The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul, by Paul Dini, with art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs.


Ra’s is in Gotham, attacking a thief who currently possesses an antique globe he once owned, which marks the locations of all the Lazarus Pits.  Ra’s is more aggressive than usual, and stays in Gotham, repeatedly attacking Batman.


Batman suspects this is due t Ra’s consuming the body of the White Ghost, who was insecure and always trying to prove himself.  Ra’s seems to now have these same weaknesses.


But even with them, Ra’s Al Ghul is still not an enemy he wants free, so Batman takes some extreme measures.  First he pushes him out the window of a skyscraper.


Then he has him drugged and shipped to Arkham, with falsified records and a new identity, and a medical schedule that will keep him permanently doped up.

Batman is not sure how long it will work, and knows that Ra’s will get out somehow.  And indeed, it doesn’t take very long.

Detective 839 – The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul ends


Paul Dini works with both art teams, Kramer and Faucher, and Benjamin and Crawford, on the big finale to the Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul, in Detective 839 (Feb. 08).


It’s an awful lot of fighting, as many finales are, as everyone converges in Nanda Parbat.  Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and even Alfred are on one side, with Ra’s Al Ghul, Merlyn, and the League of Assassins on the other, and Talia and Damian in the balance.


Talia is appalled to see Damian in a Robin outfit, when she has been training him to become Batman’s successor, not his sidekick.  But Damian wants to prove himself to his father.


Ra’s Al Ghul is restored to what he considers healthy, after consuming his son, the White Ghost.  From the outset of this storyline, Ra’s knew he needed the body of someone of his own bloodline to revive, and White Ghost has been hanging around, begging to be of use.  Sad that it took seven issue to accomplish what was obviously going to be the resolution.


With Ra’s back in action, Talia knocks out Damian and takes him away, to safety, and back into her control.


Batman and crew are only faring moderately well against Ra’s, Merlyn and the Assassins.


But the residents of Nanda Parbat have had enough.  Ra’s has befouled their peaceful hidden city, and they cause the earth to split, to drive all of them away.  Also puts an end to the fight, which Ra’s wants to continue, but Batman is smart enough to pull his troops out.

The story does continue, with an epilogue in the next issue.


Detective 838 – Batman’s Choice


The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul, a tedious and obvious story arc pushing its way through the Batman books over two months, has its third chapter in Detective 838 (Jan. 08).  Paul Dini is joined by Ryan Benjamin and Saleem Crawford on the art.


I don’t much care for this storyline (you guessed that already, right?), and this chapter is very much a middle one, which does not help matters any.  Robin and Damian are brought to Al Ghul.  Damian is unconscious throughout this issue,which is unfortunate, as this is his first appearance in Detective Comics.  Tim Drake is alert, and Ra’s tries bargaining with him, before just giving up and having him knocked out as well.


Ubu threatens Alfred, to get Nightwing off the trail, but Alfred shows himself equal to the task of self-defense.


Batman and Talia work together to rescue Damian, as she leads Batman to her father’s lair, and he finds a way in. Talia has given Batman the Suit of Sorrows, which seems to be nothing more than armor in this story, but will have greater significance later.


Batman attacks Ra’s, but his current body, so old that the Lazarus Pit will no longer revive it, is also so decrepit that he feels no pain.


The issue ends as Ra’s has his men bring out Tim and Damian, and commands Batman to choose which one will die, and which will live.

The story continues in the next issue of Batman.

Detective 783 – Nyssa Al Ghul debuts


I don’t really care for either of the stories in Detective 783 (Aug.03).  But the second one has to be included, by my own rules.


The story is a prologue for the Batman: Death and the Maidens miniseries about to launch, by Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson.  We meet Nyssa Al Ghul, living nicely in Paris, a new mother.


She is none too pleased when Ubu shows up with a note from her father, demanding to meet.


Ra’s Al Ghul wants her son, Daniel.  She wants to be left alone.  Neither will get their wishes, but that is all detailed in Death and the Maidens.

Detective 750 – Batman cures Whisper A’Daire, and the Jacobian hears about the Moment


I took a ridiculous amount of screen shots for Detective 750 (Nov. 00), but I do like both stories in it.


Greg Rucka, Shawn Martinborough and Steve Mitchell are the team as Whisper A’Daire returns, catching up with the now one-eyed Abbot.  She gives him the serum to restore his powers, so Ra’s Al Ghul can make use of him again.


Batman has begin actively searching for Ra’s, and though he claims he is just catching up on his hunt for Whisper, Oracle knows this has to do with events from JLA – the Tower of Bable storyline, in which Talia stole Batman’s plans to use against the other members of the team, and Ra’s executed the plans, almost killing the other Leaguers.  Batman was expelled from the League shortly before the events in this story.


Ra’s has been searching for Talia, who split from him towards the end of Tower of Babel.  Whisper has found her, and Ra’s demands she be brought to him.


Talia is in Gotham, so it’s no surprise that Batman finds her as well, and there’s a rematch for Batman and Abbot.  Whisper shoots Talia before Batman takes her down, and Abbot flees with Al Ghul’s daughter. tec_750_006

And Ra’s is all angry at Talia, for betraying and deserting him, yet again.


Batman holds Whisper, and gets information by “torturing” her, pouring out all her serum. Love this page, so well done.


Batman also gives her the antidote, freeing her of her addiction, and removing her cobra tongue.


Silly Batman.  Whisper was not a victim of Ra’s, but a willing follower, and she returned to him, and is back on the cobra juice.  Everyone is gathered for Ra’s latest big evil destructive plot.  He orders Batman killed, but Talia begs to be allowed to plead with him.


Which, as always, leads to his escape. What makes me fascinated with this story is that Ra’s expects it, watches it.  He even gives up before Batman returns to attack, knowing that it is over, as it always is.  There is an odd fatalism to it. tec_750_011

There is an extra-length Jacobian story in this issue, by Gorfinkel, Johnson and Panosian.


The Jacobian hears about a hero from the past, the Moment, and the woman he tried to train as a sidekick.  He was about getting out of the moment, or into the moment.  Being of the moment and what it can free you to do.  Gorfinkel writes it all waaaay better than I do.


And this chapter is really fun, with the art altering to convey the different takes on reality that the Moment and the sidekick-turned-villainess can create.


And all the while reading it, one cannot help but feel there is a connection between these two characters, and the Jacobian and Leelee – which is confirmed by the art towards the end.  Gotta love parallel structure.

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