Nothing like a nice resurrection story to celebrate Halloween, eh?
You can never really assume a character is dead forever in comics. Countless times I’ve read the dramatic death of a character, only to have said character return in later years. There’s always some sort of explanation given as to how they were able to cheat death, with varying degrees of believability. That’s not to say that I dislike these events; on the contrary, I’m often incredibly happy that a character’s death has been reversed, especially if it never felt like the proper send-off (I’m looking at you, Stephanie Brown). While certain resurrections, rebirths, or otherwise “returns” of any character are sometimes unexpected, there are others that are less a matter of if and more a matter of when.
Ra’s Al Ghul is one such death. He has been such a seminal part of Batman lore for so long that it seemed impossible that he would remain dead. I assumed that at some point, he’d make a return. That’s just the inevitability of comics. What I wasn’t sure of was exactly how that return would come about.
The Ressurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul provides details on how The Demon’s Head was able to make a return. I could go into detail about that, but I found it to be a less interesting aspect than the smaller details of the story. Essentially, Ra’s’s resurrection was planned for centuries, and his ever-loyal subjects helped aid in his return. More interesting to me though was what happened after Ra’s was brought back from the dead.
You see, Ra’s was back, but he wasn’t really fully alive. His spirit and memories were placed into one of his followers, but the body had been poisoned with radiation, and so was decaying rapidly.
Ra’s knew he needed a better body to complete his resurrection; unfortunately, that body had to be a male blood relative.
Hmmm…I wonder where this is going…
Ra’s informs Talia that this is always what Damien was meant for, but in an unexpected display of maternal instinct, Talia refuses to submit to her father’s wishes and escapes, hoping to keep her son safe.
You might notice a distinct lack of Batman in this post. Well, that’s because he just wasn’t as compelling in this story as other characters. That’s not to say that he was uninteresting in the least; I simply wasn’t as drawn to his character as to others.
The most fascinating element of the trade actually focuses on Tim Drake. Tim is captured by Ra’s and extended an offer: Ra’s claims he can bring Tim’s lost loved ones back to life. Understandably, Tim is torn by this, wondering if it’s even possible, and then struggling with his own morality as he decides whether it would be the right thing to do.
Tim and Nightwing get into a pretty fierce battle, with Nightwing acting as the voice of reason in the scenario. Tim seems determined to allow Ra’s to resurrect his parents, but at the last moment he decides it would be wrong. Although only a sub-plot of the main story, I found this to be incredibly well-written. Tim was incredibly sympathetic, and it raises the question of what any of us would do if presented with a similar situation. Nightwing shows a great level of maturity in the scene, and I found myself actually glad that it was him and not Batman having this conversation with Tim. The two are closer in age, they’re able to bond over their shared role as Robin, and they can both understand what it’s like to lose your loved ones (yes, Batman understands to a point, but he’s hit a sort of psychological break where he just seems both driven by and entirely disconnected from his parents’ deaths, all at the same time). Tim’s story was especially well done, and I appreciated the realism behind his wavering beliefs.
For a comic supposedly all about Ra’s Al Ghul, I’m not really talking about him all that much. I liked the fact that much of his past was written into this trade, and carried over from past storylines (I’m a fan of writers maintaining continuity within the story). The focus was on finding Ra’s a suitable blood relative to inhabit. The finale, with Ra’s faithful servant being revealed to be his son, felt a little too “deus ex machina” for my taste, but it got the job done. Ra’s doesn’t reveal anything about his plans now that he’s back, but I’m sure they will inevitably involve wiping out the world’s population (after all, that’s kinda what Ra’s does).
As I mentioned before, I’m not too surprised that Ra’s is back. He was far too good a villain to be gone for good. His return had the proper level of drama and fan-fare one would expect for one of Batman’s top foes. Although I only focused on certain details in my post, the entire trade was well thought-out and certainly interesting enough to keep me reading. The storylines surrounding Batman and Co. seem to be ramping up even more than usual. With all of these new reveals and resurrected characters, who knows what will happen next?