TITLE: “Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul” #1 of 6
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
WRITER, ARTIST & COLORIST: Neal Adams
COVER PRICE: $3.99
Among the Dark Knight’s vast Rogue’s Gallery of villains, only one adversary in the last 50 years of the comics could come close to being Batman’s match, and that is Raʾs al-Ghūl (pronounced RAYSH al GOOL) “The Demon’s Head” or “Head of the Demon”. Created by writer Dennis O’Neil, artist Neal Adams and Editor Julius Schwartz in 1971, Raʾs al-Ghul has been one of Batman’s most formidable enemies. In this new 6-issue mini-series written, drawn and colored by Eisner Award-winner Neal Adams, Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul takes a look at an alternate and somewhat bizarre variation on this arch-villain as part of DC’s “Year of the Villain” line.
Gotham City is in ruins apparently due to the onslaught of terrorists and according to a talking head-type reporter, following the Justice League’s repelling of Kryptonian invaders. While criminals and terrorists run amuck, it seems as only Batman and a paramilitary group are the only ones who can stop them. But when a large alien-like robotic monster (who looks a lot like Mongul?) tries to rally the former inmates and get them to follow “Khaos”. Another of Batman’s allies happen to show up, Boston Brand, the Deadman, who tries to help by taking over the bodies of a few of the criminals. But just as they seem to try and find out what has been happening, guess who shows up: Raʾs al Ghul of course! And he just so happens to be the leader of his own private security force and working alongside Commissioner Gordon. Addressing him as “Professor” al-Ghul, he appears to have the situation well in hand. But when Deadman tries to track down who is controlling the simulacrum Khaos, Ra’s sets off a detonator and it explodes, with Batman next to it! As Robin (Tim Drake), Nightwing (Dick Grayson) and another Robin (Jason Todd?) show up to discover Batman’s body is gone and they are approached by none other than Bruce Wayne.
If you’re just as confused as I am, then we both seem to be on the same page. As a note on the 4th page explains, this story takes place during the events of 1999’s “Cataclysm” and “No Man’s Land” crossover story arcs, in which a major earthquake hit Gotham City and the government evacuated the city and then abandoned and isolated those who chose to remain. Now that Gotham is, as Deadman exclaims: “like a war-torn Middle Eastern country” the ruined and blacked-out city is consumed in hellish fire and smoke.
Neal Adams’ signature photo-realistic style hearkens back to the 1970’s story lines that defined the decade and the post-camp ’66 Batman show that the comics tried to get away from by bringing back the Dark Knight detective Batman and Dennis O’Neil’s story’s as well. The cover of “Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul” #1 seems very similar to “Batman” Vol.1, #244, (Sept. 1972) right down to the sunset backdrop and a dead or dying Batman lying prone on the ground, with Ra’s standing over him triumphant. But this time the cover leaves very little to the imagination as we see essentially the same scene from the last pages of the issue with the three Robins over Batman and Bruce Wayne standing next to Ra’s. Not only does Ra’s new found business venture as the leader of a paramilitary group surprise me but the appearance of the three Robin’s confuses me. Although “Cataclysm” and “No Man’s Land” was 20 years ago. I don’t seem to recall Ra’s having much involvement in it or a third Robin. Damian Wayne, the grandson of Ra’s didn’t appear until 2006, so it couldn’t be him and Jason Todd wasn’t revealed as the Red Hood until 2011. The appearance of the Khaos robot is perplexing and with a little research I found the Pre-Crisis villain Khaos, The Lord of Terror” from Steve Ditko’s “Shade the Changing Man” from 1978.
Either way, I am just as surprised and curious to see where this new mini-series will go. As I am also delighted to see Neal Adams doing Batman again, along with the appearance of Ra’s al Ghul, one of my favorite Batman villains as well. I’m looking forward to the next issue of “Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul”!
Written by Dave “Chernabog” Whiteman, a Native Texan, Metalhead, Writer, Star Woid, Funatic, and all-around Fanboy/Nerd/Geek! 👓