Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Jeremy Haun
Colors by John Rausch
Review by Mike Duke
Ra’s Al Ghul is one of the greatest Batman villains due in part to his multi-media exposure. Like the near immortal character himself, he’s lived many lives in TV, video games, movies, and comics, all while maintaining much the same personality and dramatic flare. For me, personally, he will always be my favorite villain from the excellent Batman: The Animated Series, and he’s had a pretty decent run in the recent Arkham video games as well. In this issue, we see a Ra’s who appears very young, presumably having just had a dip in the Lazarus Pit, who is confronted by a representative of the Secret Society of Supervillains. Unfortunately, the issue spends way too much time extolling the history of Ra’s as narrated by this representative, and doesn’t really add enough to the mythos to make it much more than a primer for the uninitiated.
Funny enough, the League of Assassins barely make an appearance, despite the effort made to include them in the title of the book. It’s really a story about Ra’s–his rise to power over the history of the world and his failure at the hands of his daughter. The history of Ra’s and Batman is crammed into one two page spread–all while the Demon’s Head and the Secret Society’s messenger have a sword fight. Ra’s laughs at the idea that Batman is dead and the messenger is dispatched with little care while we are treated to a final page of the al Ghul staring off into the distance, promising big things. Unfortunately, the final page also reveals that the story of Ra’s al Ghul and his League of Assassins will continue in the pages of Red Hood and the Outlaws, which seems to point toward a lack of confidence in the character while also implying a gimmick to bump the sales of Red Hood.
Jeremy Haun’s art here is passable, but often flat and unconvincing in panels that could have benefitted from some expressive faces and dynamic poses. And with the amount of exposition in the book, some creative panel layouts could have really done the story some good, but unfortunately what we get here is pretty static. Even the two-page spreads are just rectangles on rectangles with poses and angles that seem very elementary.
Wait and see. As with some of the other Villain’s Month books, this would serve as a decent primer to the character for those who have never been exposed to him before. However, with the sheer amount of exposure that the character has had over the last ten to fifteen years, it’s hard to believe that many people out there don’t know at least a little bit about the Demon’s Head. As a side note: this issue is a really great example of how cool the 3D covers can be. Best one yet.