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Friday, December 12, 2008

Comic Review - The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul

The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul
Publish Date/Year
Creative Team
Issue (s)
Batman 670-671, Ann 26
Robin 168-169, Ann 7
Nightwing 138-139
Detective 838-840

The 2 annuals (Batman Ann 26 and Robin Ann 7) leading into the storyline prep the readers with some background on Ra’s Al Ghul (RAG) and his grandson (Batman’s lovechild) Damian.

RAG is making a comeback by means of resurrection. However, he needs to transfer his essence/soul into a new body. The catch is, the body has to be a family member. So, since RAG would look really funky if he were to go into Talia’s body, the next in line was obviously Damian. The whole process of his resurrection was planned and executed by one of RAG’s loyal henchmen – the White Ghost. The White Ghost did not tell Talia the full story about RAG needing Damian’s body for the transference but had only informed her that they were preparing for RAG’s resurrection. Reason is because no one had ever known of the full process of the resurrection or its requirements as RAG has always only immersed himself in the Lazarus Pits to prolong his life. He had never needed to return from being dead until now*.

Batman gets news that RAG was back and investigates. His investigations lead him to Tibet. Meanwhile, Damian, after having learnt of his role in RAG’s resurrection, escapes to go looking for his father in at the Wayne Mansion to help him escape RAG (who is by now a walking zombie as the body he used does not meet the requirement). This is where Robin gets mixed up in this. RAG sends a horde of ninja assassins to retrieve Damian. Hence, Batman sends an urgent call to Nightwing to help Robin, Damian and Alfred who were surrounded by ninja assassins. RAG manages to capture both Damian and Robin. Batman and Talia manage to reach RAG before the transference happens, but RAG asks Bats to decide if he would save Damian or Robin but Bats counter-proposes a 3rd option to RAG – go to Nanda Parbat to achieve immortality.

There was a part where Robin fights Nightwing because RAG had tempted him with the possibility of bringing Tim’s loved ones back from the dead. Nightwing was there to stop him from crossing that line where heroes do not cross. The fight was both very intense and emotional for me.

Finally, as expected, Batman manages to stop RAG from taking Damian’s body. Hence, RAG needs to quickly take a body for the transference and it was then that we learn that the White Ghost was in fact his despised son – the Failed One.

* I had not read Death and the Maidens. I presume RAG had died in that storyline.

The art work is a mixed bag as there are multiple artists for this storyline. The styles used are quite complementary as there are no jarring clashes of styles. The only one that kind of falls into that category was the Epilog issue by Dustin Nguyen. His style is a bit similar to Mike Mignola’s – highly stylized.

Additional Comments
I had not read or kept up with any Batman books for some time now and it was refreshing for me to read a story that involved almost the whole Bat-Family plus one of my favorite Bat-Villains - Ra’s Al Ghul, and his family.

There was 1 part where both RAG and Bats go up against Sensei at Nanda Parbat, another immortal, whom we later learn was RAG’s father! Sensei makes short work of RAG and Batman in a matter of seconds. In that sequence, Sensei shoves a 4-foot walking stick through Batman’s chest. However, this fact is all but forgotten in the next few issues! What gives?

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