Batman Vs. Ra's Al Ghul #4
The story so far… A Doppelganger of Bruce Wayne has taken his place at Wayne Manor. DoppelBruce thinks he really is Bruce Wayne, but has no memory of being Batman. With the help of Dick Grayson, Alfred, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne, DoppelBruce tries to learn the ropes and fill in as Batman as they try to figure out where he came from. In the meantime, he is in negotiations with Ra’ s Al Ghul to sell Ra’s shares in Wayne Enterprises.
Meanwhile, the real Batman has been exiled to a Sword & Sorcery dimension, in the custody of a sorceress named Chiarascuro. They have been joined there by Boston Brand, aka Deadman, and the three of them start to get along and possibly form a truce.
The issue opens on a fun scene in a tavern in Chiarascoro’s Sword & Sorcery dimension, with Batman, Chiarascuro, and Deadman having drinks amidst a crew of orcs, goblins and warrior women. The discussion turns up some surprising revelations! More on that in a moment.
At Wayne Manor, Ra’s turns out to be an android when he is gunned down by his own limo drivers. DoppelBruce pulls off the most impressively efficient costume change I’ve ever seen and leaps into action! He subdues the assassins with the help of a sudden arrivee, another Batman who turns out to be an Australian athlete who has come to join in the Batman Olympics! No one at Wayne Manor has ever heard of the Batman Olympics.
Back in the Sword & Sorcery dimension, Batman, Deadman, and Chiarascuro fight their way through a tribe of goblins to find Etrigan and demand answers. It is at this point that the issue ends, after a whirlwind of action, some of the most realistically expressive faces, explosions of color, and some truly jolting images that I won’t spoil, well-placed to surprise you when you turn the page.
Which brings us back to the revelations I mentioned earlier. This issue is actually a collision of sorts with Neal Adams’ 2017 Deadman 6 issue miniseries, which I hadn’t read, so I had to play catch-up before completing this review. And what a fun game of catch-up it was! Deadman 2017 is truly like opening a book full of miracles. Every page is like an exploding rainbow. The miniseries is about Deadman’s renewed search for answers about his death and it goes into his family history. Previously we only knew about his twin brother Cleveland. In this 2017 miniseries we met his parents and learned that he has a missing older brother named Aaron, and that his mother was terminally ill decades ago and his father Billy made a deal to trade his first born in order to save her life… a deal with Ra’s Al Ghul.
That series also mentioned Deadman having a long-lost sister, who figures in to this issue in a central way. At the end of the 2017 Deadman Miniseries, it said it would be continued in BATMAN: DEMIGODS WAR.
Well, BATMAN: DEMIGODS WAR turns out to be this very miniseries, renamed BATMAN VS. RA’S AL GHUL, and a lot of things about it now make a lot more sense, like the Sword & Sorcery covers, and the story not actually depicting an issues long confrontation between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul. Also, we knew that this series was a natural continuation of Adams’ story from Batman Odyssey, but now we know that the 2017 DEADMAN miniseries is part of that greater whole as well.
As for the issue and story itself, this isn’t the kind of story telling we are used to, and I can’t really think of anyone else who tells a story this way. Approaching it with an open mind and welcoming it’s random chaos is proving to be immensely rewarding and entertaining!
The best issue since #1, and by tying together some of the threads, it improves the story featured in the two issues that preceded it.
Batman vs. R'as Al Ghul #4 (of 6): The Collision
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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