After the action packed first issue of Grant Morrison’s latest (and presumably last) installment in his Batman run we take an issue to focus on head behind Leviathan, Talia al Ghul. Through these pages we take a look at her life from childhood on through her involvement in previous issues of Morrison’s run and how it’s all lead up to this climactic point in the war between Bruce, Talia, and their son stuck in between it all.
Read on for my review!
If the reader was hoping to run directly to the follow up to the shocking conclusion to the first issue you don’t quite get that here. You do get a bit of confirmation as to the fate of Damian, but it’s not through anything visual, but through a bit of dialogue from Talia herself. Otherwise, this issue plays out as a bit of catch-up for fans old and new who may either not know Talia’s past, or they may have just forgotten. Either way, Morrison delivers something that we’ve been sorely in need of: his tale of Talia al Ghul.
I do say this because of the fact that we know that he’s gone forth with some levity in retconning what stories we’ve had of the characters past, most famously the events in Son of the Demon which led forth into the birth of Damian Wayne, current Robin. Since that story was originally considered to be an Elseworlds (non-canon) book to begin with, it seems that Morrison would have full reign on what events actually transpired.
There’s a bit of controversy behind what Morrison changes from that story in that he’s in the past referenced to the fact that instead of Bruce romancing Talia that she actually drugged him and effectively raped him to impregnate herself with the seed of the one she and her father have deemed to be the “Optimum Man”, however this issue kind of throws it up into the air for a bit more interpretation. I found myself believing that Talia may have only stolen some form of DNA from Bruce due to the fact that Damian shown to be embryonic in an artificial womb rather than Talia ever becoming pregnant herself, but as I said, it’s up to the readers own interpretation.
Aside from this, Morrison highlights all points in Talia’s life in this one issue from childhood to present including all her appearances in his extensive run so far, her first time seeing Ra’s come out of a Lazarus Pit, and the combat training she’s received through her life. One point Morrison effectively capitalizes on is the romantic relationship between Bruce and Talia. He shows us scenes that allow readers who are unfamiliar with this characters past to now know the love that she has had for him, and the affection that he’s given her in return. There’s a bit of a tragic love story in there, and it makes for a nice rivalry here between the characters. Also, what this issue does is give us an idea as to just why Talia might go to war against Bruce although she has such a strong love for him.
Chris Burnham gets better and better each month he pencils this book, and in this issue I have to say he pulls off a lot of great work in portraying scenes from Talia’s past, making them have a sightly classic vibe to them while maintaining a modern look simultaneously. My favorite scene of the issue may have to be the famed desert battle between Bruce and Ra’s which Burnham pulled off expertly.
This issue gives small hints towards what Talia’s endgame may be, and expands on much of what’s happened before, but I think where Morrison truly succeeds in this issue is in delivering us an entire issue of backstory that’s still very entertaining. Morrison captures the super-spy side of Batman that’s been lost for a while, and it really does feel like we’re reading a modernized Silver-Age tale of Batman here which is a great way to differentiate this title from the other four titles that have Bruce Wayne in the starring role. In short, it’s a damn good read as Morrison once again knocks it out of the park.
GO Rating: 4.5/5