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Aalok deciphers DC – The Demon’s Head

7 May

Welcome to another edition of Deciphering DC. /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

You shall judge a man by his foes as well as by his friends. – Joseph Conrad

That said, I thought for Bat Week, let’s take a look at Batman’s “adversary” Ra’s Al Ghul. While many people use the term adversary, I prefer the term “reluctant ally”.

The Joker is the Batman’s opposite number; where the Batman stands for order, the Joker represents the forces of chaos. But Ra’s isn’t Batman’s enemy; if anything, he’s a like minded soul. Batman agrees with Ra’s motives, but not with his methods, and nurses a romantic relationship with his daughter Talia.

BATMAN: TALES OF THE DEMON

Writer: Dennis O’Neil

Artists: Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Ed Hannigan and others

This book collects almost all of Ra’s Al Ghul pre-Crisis adventures written by his creator, Dennis O’Neil.

The introductory story features Talia in conflict with the League of Assassins. Ra’s Al Ghul makes his appearance in the next story when apparently; Robin & Talia are kidnapped by the same unknown enemy. Ra’s deduces Batman’s identity in the first few pages itself, as if it were as simple as adding 2 and 2. They then go around the world on an adventurous romp, to find Robin in the Himalayas, revealing this was all a trick by Ra’s to gauge Batman as his future son in law.

In further issues we see Ra’s plans for Batman, who almost ends up marrying Talia. We also have a look at how Ra’s stays young – using the Lazarus pits, in which periodic immersion lengthens one’s life span, at the cost of his sanity. We also meet the Sensei, who is the leader of the League of assassins and also witness the first use of Matches Malone as Batman’s cover identity within the mob. These stories were pretty elementary, but they work due to the mystery surrounding the character, also due to Adams & Giordano’s moody art.

Rating: 8 on 10

BATMAN DEMON TRILOGY

Ra’s later appeared in three standalone graphic novels, of which the first is titled BATMAN: SON OF THE DEMON, by Mike W Barr & Jerry Bingham.

It deals with Batman & Ra’s as allies against a mutual enemy, Qayin, who was instrumental in killing Ra’s wife and also responsible for the murder of an eminent scientist, for which he was being pursued by the Batman. During the course of this story, Batman marries Talia & has a son with her. However, realizing that Batman could never give up his grim life, Talia claimed that she has miscarried & leaves the child for adoption. These was previously considered as an imaginary story, but recently have the events become canon, with Grant Morrison introducing Damien as Bruce & Talia’s son.

The next part of the trilogy was a lackluster BATMAN: BRIDE OF THE DEMON, wherein Ra’s falls in love with an aging actress. The most lackluster of them all, though by the same writer, with art by Tom Grindberg.

Now we get to the meat of the story with BATMAN: BIRTH OF THE DEMON by Dennis O’Neil & Norm Breyfogle. Here, we learn in detail about Ra’s past. He was a medicine man of asian descent, who was requested by the local king to save the life of his mortally wounded son. Ra’s saves the prince by immersing him in a Lazarus pit, but the prince driven insane by the pit, strangles Sora, Ra’s wife, who the prince had been eyeing for some time. The king blames Ra’s for the murder of his wife, and sends him to be killed. Ra’s is saved by the son of an old lady he has saved earlier, and locates his tribe from the desert, finally rallying them to attack and destroy the kingdom. Thus was born the Demon’s head.

Rating:

BATMAN: SON OF THE DEMON – 7 on 10

BATMAN: BRIDE OF THE DEMON – 4 on 10

BATMAN: BIRTH OF THE DEMON – 9 on 10

The demon never dies….whenever we think he’s gone, he always manages to re emerge, but the same can be said for any character in modern superhero comics nowadays.