Tying into the last Ra’s Al Ghul/Batman comic I read, Batman: Bride of the Demon opens with Ra’s constructing another Lazarus Pit, although this time it isn’t for himself. This story, a nicely contained issue, focused on Al Ghul’s attempts to restore balance to the world (specifically, by restoring the depleting ozone). Although seemingly noble, his methods would result in millions of deaths and essentially utter desolation of the planet.
You know, things that are sort of NOT OKAY.
Batman learns of this plan (of course) and travels to Al Ghul’s Antarctic lair to stop him.
That’s essentially the basic plot of the “action” side of the story. There are some highly entertaining fight scenes, Batman escapes a seemingly impossible trap, Tim Drake gets to flex his muscles a bit by fighting at Batman’s side; it’s all well-done, tied up in a neat little package.
The other main part of this story, though, is what I consider the real focus. As the title suggests, Ra’s takes a bride in this book, and that story has much more of a tie-in to the larger Batman storyline.
The “bride” portion of the story begins as Ra’s meets aging actress Evelyn Grayce, a woman obsessed with her past youth who would give anything to have that vitality back.
Traveling to Antarctica, Ra’s wastes no time in placing Evelyn into the Lazarus Pit (of her own free will, it must be noted). As she emerges, we are met with a woman who’s youthful glow has been restored to her, as the years simply melt away:
As could be expected, Evelyn is extremely grateful for having the one thing she covets above all else returned to her, and she and Ra’s become lovers, living as husband and wife.
The Evelyn story takes a back seat at this point as the action picks up, with Batman ultimately destroying the Antarctica base and seemingly killing Ra’s Al Ghul in the process.
As the comic closes, we see Evelyn safe aboard a plane, hinting that the story is far from over:
This entire story is filled with betrayal, intrigue, love – all the topics often associated with a daytime soap opera. Yet somehow this story doesn’t feel contrived. It feels entirely relevant to the overall Batman storyline, perhaps because it is told in short bursts. Batman’s relationship with Talia, though volatile, doesn’t take up this entire story, nor is it featured in an endless string of issues with no end in sight. Instead, the writers have enough insight to include just enough detail to add to that portion of the story without overwhelming readers with an endless barrage of “will they, won’t they” drivel.
This story was brief, but it’s clear that it’s setting up something else, perhaps something much bigger. I already know that there’s another Ra’s Al Ghul story coming up in my reading, and I can only assume that it will tie in directly to this one. I’m rather enjoying these brief Ra’s stories popping up among other Batman trades, allowing for various stories to be told while forever reminding the reader that Ra’s is always present, just waiting to be reborn again.