Batman Annual #26: Head of the Demon
Peter Milligan & David Lopez
CHRIS: This is apparently the “definitive” NEW EARF origin of Ra’s al Ghul, leading into this fall’s “Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul” Bat-event. This has two strikes going against it from the outset: I don’t think anyone wants another big Bat-Event, and Peter Milligan’s got a pretty shaky history on big work-for-hire books (check out his runs on X-Men and Elektra if you don’t believe me; better yet, don’t). On the plus side, it’s a big Bat-Event masterminded by Grant Morrison, who managed to run a tight ship and make the behemoth DC One Million more coherently and enjoyably than it ever should have been, and it’s a Bat-Event written by Morrison, Milligan and Fabian Nicieza, who can all write a good superhero story. Plus, it’s written by Peter Milligan, who missteps aside, also wrote X-Statix, Human Target, Enigma, Shade the Changing Man, and even a series of pretty enjoyable Batman stories for DC back in the early 1990s. If there was any way to make this sort of thing work, DC has put together the proper scenario for this occurrence.
Batman Annual #26
This is quite possibly the worst Batman story I’ve ever read. So bad, that you would almost have to think it was done on purpose. This is lampoon, pure and simple. If it wasn’t intended as satire, then it only goes to highlight the disassociative mess of a character that Batman has become.
Ra’s Al Ghul comes off as a bad Vampire: The Masquerade character. He won Waterloo! He slept with Napoleon’s woman! He married the only independent woman in Araby! I like Ra’s Al Ghul, but seriously, this was hard to take. I'm also not keen on the idea of Damien, and this did everything to justify why. Which is a shame b/c, I guarantee (sight unseen) he’s a better character than this when Morrison is writing him.
Gaze upon the travesty that is Batman Annual #26: Resurrection Shuffle (which is even a terrible name), written by Peter Milligan and drawn by the brothers Lopez.
”Do very important men look at me while they’re talking?”
Let’s start with this. Isn’t it more suspicious that Batman investigates Wayne interests all the damn time? Two ecologists have gone missing? Isn’t this a better job for Mr. Wayne himself, dressed in something breezy? Or don’t shave, put on a hat and latex scar and go as Matches McGivesacrap, Private Dick. Don’t pretend like you don’t do undercover.
Thanks for the lesson Smarty McKnowstuff.
Batman is exactly that asshole who saw some special on the Discovery Channel last night and can’t wait to drop his new fact on someone at work the next day like they’re the idiot. We all know that Batman is smart, this is just egregious showboating.
And why was he just standing on top of that rock? Just to cut a silouhette in the setting sun. No. For real.
Let it be on record. I hate the Batplane. Hate it. The Batmobile is about alls I can stand when it comes to the extended bat accoutrements. Are you the subtle fear who moves with the night? Or are you a showy playboy who wastes his money on Bat-themed vehicles for all seasons?
”Could you turn off the lights by the Jukebox? I want to skulk to the bathroom.”
Ugh. This is what I’m talking about right here. Batman is standing in the 2x2 square of darkness between the window and the doorway like he’s being stealthful. This is as ridiculous as Batman hiding behind a gumball machine in Heroclix. Just approach the bar, for Christ’s sakes. You’re not scaring anyone. You just look silly.
"I'm sorry, could you differentiate yourself from our other customers who dress up like mammals?"
Okay, so in two panels, we learn that no one in Asswater, Australia knows who Bruce Wayne or Batman are. Are you feeling at least a little stupid, Bruce?
"Nah, mate, I'm saying y'look queer. Get me?"
In case you didn’t already think it was ridiculous to be standing in the middle of a desert expanse in full Bat-gear, here’s Johnny Wirrabara to point it out for you. I usually appreciate when an artist recognizes something silly about what they’ve written. And by drawing attention to it, you can give my suspension of disbelief something to hang its hat on. In this case, it only draws attention to how ludacris this all looks, even in comic book world. If every Aussie is just going to make fun of Batman for wearing his whole kit, then maybe you should've written it differently.
“That? That’s a… that’s a metaphor. A metaphor for how much he'll love him-- and you-- when he gets back to life and all.”
Since when is Talia the idiot broodmare around Al Ghul manor? Talia should be cutting this jerk’s manriki gusari off, letting him know the price of looking at her funny without the initials B.W.
These ninja are the equivalent of #21 and #24 on the Venture Brothers.
Finally, Talia isn’t just wasting her time having babies. She runs the League of Assassins (when Batgirl isn’t --shrug). She’s the only person who gave Ra’s lip on a regular basis. She was on the Board of the Society. She fights Batman. She doesn’t take crap from Mr. White the 11th Hour sycophant.
World’s Greatest Detective, huh? I’m guessing its the guy in all white with the white hair, Bruce.
Is this just a comment that this douchebag holds zero significance to the Al Ghul mythology? You just spent this whole issue telling me the opposite. Seriously, is this supposed to be comedy? Irony? What?
”Should I fluff your nuts for you, sir?”
Ugh, Alfred as droll yes-man? Just… yech.
And note, Batman, nor Bruce Wayne really gave a crap about those ecologists he went to find. He left those hippies facedown in a Lazarus stream. They were just the barest MacGuffin to explain why Batman bothered to fly to Australia in full costume to happen across the badguys.
Worst. Batman. Ever.
Batman Annual #26 by Peter Milligan, David López, and Álvaro López. $3.99, DC.
I imagine this is setting up the new Ra’s al Ghul that Morrison will be writing about in the main title, so we get an origin story with an ambiguous ending. It’s not a bad story, but it lacks Milligan’s flair, so it’s simply a story that needed to be told to lead to other things. Batman heads to Australia to investigate the disappearance of two ecologists who worked for the Wayne Ecological Foundation, while Talia and Damian learn the history of Talia’s father. Batman figures out that there’s an underground Lazarus pit in the area, and he arrives at the scene a bit too late. Ra’s al Ghul’s right-hand man, the White Ghost, has plans for Damian, but they go awry and he ends up in the pit, his fate … unknown! So there’s that.
López, as usual, does a fine job with the art. He draws the action scenes very nicely, and he also has a good eye for features that make each character unique. The story contains some of Milligan’s oddities, like his portrayal of the Duke of Wellington as a whiny coward at the Battle of Waterloo and the weird old guy who was transported to Australia as a prisoner some years before. Of course, I spent six months in Australia and never heard anyone say “fair dinkum,” but I suppose our Aussie readers can say whether people actually use that term! And I like how the Aussies living out on the outback are at the Hewlett place - a reference to Jamie Hewlett, perhaps?
Damian remains a problem, because he’s really a whiner. I mean, he was bad enough when Morrison wrote him, but shouldn’t Talia slap him once or twice? She just puts up with his poor behavior, and I don’t like this Talia. She always seemed stronger than this. Come on, Talia!
It’s not really that necessary of a book. It’s an okay story, but nothing spectacular.
Triple Frown Achievement in Bizarre Dialogue - Batman Annual #26
I know for a fact Peter Milligan is a good writer, so what's up with these cringeworthy exchanges?
"We don't want you skipping to the end!" Huh? She's calling the White Ghost on his confusing (and stilted plot necessitated) actions and he retorts by seriously saying (while wearing a white robe in a cave guarded by ninjas or someshit) that he doesn't want her reading ahead? I think a certain amount of solemnity should be required when one is torchlit. And then their little "embroidery" exchange? It sounds like a student film.
I could say the same about you, you little scamp. Forgivable because it's just the kind of thing an adolescent could think sounds cool but is actually incredibly stupid. Like when I told my mom "Time is money, and you owe me a lot.
""By the look of these droppings the bodies have been here almost two weeks." WHAT?! What droppings?! Are the droppings on the bodies? Are they the droppings of the dead ecologists? There are two dead bodies in a creek, what the shit kinda excretory evidence can he possibly be referencing?
Batman Annual #26
From: DC Comics
Written by: Peter Milligan
Art: David Lopez & Alvaro Lopez
Reviewed by Tim Janson
I freely admit it…I am a bit of a snob when it comes to comic books. I’ve been reading them for a long time, and I’ve taken the time to learn about the history and heritage of the titles, characters, and stories, of those books that came before I began reading comics. For example, I still think that no writer and artist has ever done a better job on Ra’s Al Ghul than Denny O’ Neil and Neal Adams, who introduced the character back in 1971. He’s always been an enigmatic character…usually an enemy but sometimes an ally to Batman. And unlike most of Batman’s villains, Ra’s isn’t unbalanced, relatively speaking, unless one considers the pursuit of immortality to be unbalance.
Batman Annual #26 advertises itself as featuring the origin of Ra’s Al Ghul, seemingly implying it’s the first time the origin has been told, or perhaps I am just inferring that is the case. His origin had already been told in depth in the Birth of the Demon graphic novel from 1992, again written by Denny O’ Neil. Milligan’s story offers little new information about the villain referred to as the Demon.
The book begins with Ghul’s daughter Talia meeting with a man in hooded robe as she learns that historical documents about her dead father still exist. She is to read these documents to her son Damian so he can learn about his notorious grandfather. Theses segments are told in flashbacks as Ra’s comes to an old man to learn his knowledge. The old man makes Ra’s marry his daughter Sora as payment for his teachings. Ra’s will uncover the mystical equations that the old man was working on that will eventually lead to his discovery of the Lazarus pit, the secret to his immortality. This is all basically covered in Birth of the Demon. We do get to see that Ra’s was involved in the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, however. This is where we meet Ghul’s confidant and servant referred to as the White Ghost.
The White Ghost is the man in the hooded robes and he is preparing the Lazarus pit for Ghul’s resurrection. Damian needs to learn all about his grandfather because he will be confused when he is born and only a male of his own blood can help Ghul recover his memory….right….I think we’re all seeing where this not too clever plot is going.
Oh yes, although it seems almost an afterthought, Batman does appear in his own annual although he’s resigned to a supporting role, traveling to Australia to help locate a couple of missing ecologists who work for the Wayne Foundation. Batman’s appearance in Australia, and the lair of the White Ghost and the Lazarus Pit are all a bit too convenient and Batman has little to do in the story until the last few pages. Ra’s Al Ghul is set to return to life this Fall but unfortunately this Annual was a bit of a clumsy and contrived attempt at setting the table for that storyline. On the plus side, the art of David and Alvaro Lopez was very good and keeps the book readable. Great cover, too, by Brian Stelfreeze.
07. Batman: Annual #26 (05)
Peter Milligan (W), David Lopez (A), Brian Stelfreeze (C)
Well, this was…interesting. I think it is great that Ra’s Al Ghul is making a comeback and I think that using Damian as a proposed host (finally, a use for the character that isn’t going to bore me), with Talia and Batman both at odd’s with the “deceased” villains lackeys is a good way to jumpstart the storyline. Unfortunately, this issue was entirely too long and the “coincidence” of Batman finding a Lazarus stream at the exact same time that the White Ghost’s plot was unfolding was a little hard to swallow for me. The art by David and Alvaro Lopez was good, but it doesn’t live up to their work on Catwoman. If you are a diehard Ra’s fan, I’d recommend this one, otherwise I think you’d be fine giving this one a pass.
Batman Annual #26
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by David Lopez
Rating: Check It
Dan's Review: Batman Annual #26 uses a rather pedestrian murder mystery as a backdrop for the retelling of Ra's Al Ghul's origin story, as told by Talia to her and Batman's son, Damien. If you're looking for a riveting and near-masterful version of the origin of the Demon's Head, then I suggest you pick up Birth of the Demon, written by Ra's Al Ghul creator Denny O'Neil and beautifully painted by Norm Breyfogle. This annual serves as merely a brief summary of that work, sort of like C.B. Cebulski's "Album" retellings of Marvel books like Runaways and Astonishing X-Men, among others. Writer Peter Milligan does introduce a few inspired gems to the Ra's Al Ghul mythos, such as the introduction of Ras' longtime aid and mystic, the White Ghost, and the revelation that Ra's' Uncle stole his life's memoirs and sold them under the pseudonym H.G. Wells, but these brief additions are few and far between. Milligan also sets in motion the events that will eventually lead to the resurrection of arguably Batman's greatest foe, which is one - and probably the only - reason this book will serve as a must have for diehard Batman and Ra's Al Ghul fans like myself.
Regular Catwoman artist David Lopez handles the art, and while I've regularly applauded his clean and straightforward artwork in the pages of that series, Lopez' style doesn't seem to fit the tone of a Ra's Al Ghul story. Still the artwork is far from a weakness, and I suspect that my love for Norm Breyfogle's stunning painted work in Birth of the Demon (and throughout his run as penciller on Detective Comics and Batman, in general) was the perfect match for a tale detailing the rise of the greatest eco-terrorist and global tyrant that ever lived (albeit over and over again). The most disappointing aspect of the issue is the rather anticlimactic finish, which leaves more than a few questioned unanswered, threads that will undoubtedly be picked up on in the upcoming Return of Ra's Al Ghul crossover event throughout the Bat-books.
If there's one reason this annual is absolutely necessary, it's to send both new and old Batman fans digging back to discover - and rediscover - O'Neil and Breyfogle's classic from the early nineties. Other than that, you can count this book as a starting point - issue #0, if you will - to the upcoming Batman event.
REVIEW: Batman annual 26
"Is Ra's Al Ghul immortal? Are his methods supernatural?" Deze oneliner uit de film 'Batman Begins' vat eigenlijk perfect samen waar deze annual over gaat.
DC loopt er langer dan vandaag mee te koop dat het aartsvijand Ra's Al Ghul weer wil doen terugkeren, nadat hij in 'Death of the maidens' aan zijn einde was gekomen. Natuurlijk gebeurt het in comics wel vaker dat personages niet dood blijven, maar in het geval van Ra's is het nog aanvaardbaar. Zijn verhalen hebben altijd al over het omzeilen van de dood gegaan. Dit keer zal het verhaal dus wat overtuigender zijn dan de vreselijke terugkeer van Jason Todd.
Het verhaal van de echte terugkeer van Ra's begint in 'Batman 670', maar deze 26e annual werkt eigenlijk als een opstapje naar dat verhaal. Bovendien wordt de origin van Ra's nog eens uit de doeken gedaan. De reclame voor deze comic dat die origin nu voor het eerst wordt verteld, klopt van geen kanten. Schrijver Dennis O'Neil schreef begin jaren '90 de origin al eens neer in het prachtige 'Birth of the Demon' met knap artwork van Norm Breyfogle.
Gelukkig spreekt het verhaal in deze annual dat meesterwerk van O'Neil niet tegen. Integendeel, schrijver Peter Milligan vat het eigenlijk mooi samen én verwerkt er recente gebeurtenissen in. Zo worden Damian en Ra's dochter Talia opgevoerd, en klaargestoomd voor de aankomende crossover. De plot werkt op zich dus wel aardig, en de personages zijn ook vrij goed geschreven. Zo wordt Talia eindelijk wat meer dan de volgzame slaaf van haar vader, en zien we dan Damian nog steeds de etter is zoals Grant Morrisson hem introduceerde in 'Batman and son'. Jammer genoeg is het schrijfwerk niet over de hele lijn even sterk. Met name de dialogen zijn behoorlijk zwak en knullig. Hier en daar was beter een tekstkader gebruikt, in plaats van de personages zelf te laten zeggen wat er gebeurt. Dat is namelijk nogal retro en ... tja ... knullig.
Het artwork is van de hand van David en Alvaro Lopez. Deze twee broertjes zijn tegenwoordig ook de vaste tekenaars van 'Catwoman'. Hun tekenwerk is helder, maar mist helaas sfeer en persoonlijkheid. Het blijft allemaal een beetje oppervlakkig en kan de lezer niet doen opgaan in het verhaal. Er zitten trouwens nogal wat harde, donkere en mysterieuze scènes in deze comic, maar die missen eigenlijk elke keer hun effect door de té brave tekeningen.
Deze annual is dus absoluut geen must. Alleen wie de origin van Ra's Al Ghul nog eens wil herlezen kan met deze comic aan zijn trekken komen. Al is het in dat geval echt wel beter 'Birth of the Demon' te lezen, maar die is helaas zeer moeilijk te vinden.
Nog een vreemd detail: DC kondigt deze comic al maanden aan met een 'exclusieve cover' van Tim Sale, maar uiteindelijk is het een geschilderde cover geworden van Brian Stelfreeze (bekend van de covers van 'Shadow of the Bat') die trouwens sterk doet denken aan de cover van 'Birth of the Demon'.
Man, Batman's only been around 26 years? Seems longer.
Batman Annual #26: What we have here is a warm-up book, designed to get the reader ready for bigger, related stuff down the road. Sometimes it seems a lot of superhero books do this constantly on a grand scale, but this one’s more specific - it serves to give the reader a quick refresher on the highlights of Ra's al Ghul's origin, since the villain will soon be headlining a two-month Bat-crossover. It's not so much a prologue as the stuff some other author might tell you about in the Forward, but I suppose it wraps itself into an Annual neatly enough.
I suspect it’ll work better the more you already know about the villain; jumping around events and highlights in the character's history, writer Peter Milligan (in straightforward superhero mode) doesn't manage to convey much of the tragic sweep it’s apparently poised to suggest, although enough facts get out to keep things comprehensible. These exploits are being recounted to dear lil' heir Damian by mother Talia, at the behest of the White Ghost, a director of the Demon who has a nasty plan in mind. Meanwhile, Batman wanders around the Australian outback investigating some disappearances, and amusingly fails to grasp much of the larger plot swirling around. David Lopez and Alvaro Lopez provide efficient art. Nothing much is resolved. Hey: crossover coming.
There are some fun details, though. Milligan characterizes the White Ghost as a sort of ultimate Ra's al Ghul fanboy, so determined to carry on his hero’s story that he’s possibly moving into the realm of fanfiction. Combine that with Damian’s near-total disinterest in old grandpa stories -- a life-saving instinct, it turns out -- and you’ve got a strangely conflicted subtext at work. It doesn’t make this more than OKAY, but it adds needed spice to the summary.
Batman Annual #26
Posted: Tuesday, September 4
By: Bryant Frattalone
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Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist9s): David Lopez and Alvaro Lopez
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Batman investigates a case of two of his employees missing in action in the Australian Outback. In the process he discovers a mystery around the unusual longevity being given to the local flora and fauna. All signs point to the possible resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul.
Commentary: I picked up this annual with anticipation. To me killing off Ra’s Al Ghul was a mistake and rectifying it would be a good thing. DC has tried to replace Ra’s with a spurned female version in recent years but no one else can match the presence and threat that Ra’s himself is. The cover is great with omens of greatness yet to come. The annual does feel a bit rushed in its execution. It’s odd to me that Morrison didn’t write it. All the more reason for me to believe it was rushed to coincide with Morrison’s own run on the core Batman book. Another thing is that the art is kind of simple and sketchy though competent.
Milligan and Lopez do manage to tell the story in acceptable fashion here. I was a bit concerned that Milligan was the writer on this considering the twisted debacle he made of a certain X-team of marvelous origin. Nonetheless Milligan has written some solid stuff in the past and does so again here. He gives us a Batman that hearkens back to the days when Ra’s was first introduced. By and large in this story he is, “The Detective.” This is how Ra’s always preferred to address him and so the emphasis on this aspect of Batman is fitting. Batman’s skills of deduction are highlighted here to good effect. Some might say the fact that Batman doesn’t suspect the physical, literal resurrection of Ra’s as the ultimate end to what is happening is a mistake on Milligan and DC’s part. It is well established by now that Talia and Damian are determined to be heirs to Ra’s empire and so it is reasonable Batman would suspect their involvement and not suspect an attempt to resurrect Al Ghul. Furthermore Batman most likely considers the utter destruction of the Lazarus Pits the final nail in Ra’s coffin and so his resurrection seems very unlikely.
Milligan also gives us a bit of globe-trotting adventure which works so well in a Ra’s story. What is a bit of a problem here is the introduction of a heretofore unknown character from Ra’s history, The White Ghost. First of all, it’s a rather obvious name for an albino character. If he is supposed to be shadowing and maneuvering from the background why should his name be such a dead giveaway of his normal appearance? The introduction of characters like this almost always seems like lazy writing to me. They did it in Spiderman 3 with the introduction of the butler who told Harry Spiderman didn’t kill his father. We never saw this butler lurking in the background in the other films. They just needed a means to let Harry know the truth and so contrived one. Here, The White Ghost almost seems like that kind of contrivance but, a better contrivance than most resurrection vehicles in comics. So, if it brings back Ra’s I’m willing to be forgiving.
Milligan’s writing of Talia and Damian is well done. Ultimately Talia is a mother who loves her son and has suffered enough pain in the past not to allow him to be sacrificed on the altar of her father’s resurrection. It adds depth to the character; the fact that she can recognize what is about to happen and forestall it through she and Damian’s martial prowess was a nice touch. A slight problem is that Bruce seems to dismiss the White Ghost as quickly as he found out about him. Even though Bruce suspects the resurrection of Ra’s is a product of the White Ghost’s madness I don’t think Batman would leave this stone unturned without an investigation into the White Ghost’s background. Since the next issue of Morrison’s Batman is called “Lazarus Rising” I suspect in some way this slightly out of character ending will be rectified. I look forward to how Morrison picks up the potential return of Ra’s and runs with it from here.
Final Word: All in all a solid story with some slight contrivances which set us up for some more interesting developments in the core Batman title.
Batman Annual #26
Posted: Saturday, September 1
By: Ray Tate
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Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: David Lopez(p), Alvaro Lopez(i), Trish Mulvihill(c)
In searching The Phantom of the Attic for books to add to my meager two issues, I considered The Batman Annual. Peter Milligan wrote a spectacular short run of stories in Batman long before No Man's Land marked the moment where all sensibility went screaming out the window. David Lopez handled some issues of Fallen Angel, when it was still part of DC, and his artwork if anything looked even better that I remembered.
Surprisingly, I really didn't expect to like The Batman Annual. I've been so divorced from Batman and his world that most Batman stories no longer make any sense to me and don't make my heart beat faster. While I'm mostly enjoying Dini's run on Detective Comics, it more often feels like an echo of the animated series I'm trying to recapture, and usually when he co-mingles continuity into the mix, the exercise just deadens me more.
Another strike against The Batman Annual was that it appeared to be relating the secret origin of Ra's Al Ghul. On the whole, I just don't care that much about villains. I'm in comic book fandom for the heroes, but Milligan pulls it off. The Batman Annual isn't just a great story. It's not just a great detective story. It's a great Batman story.
Milligan's Batman is the Batman I remember. He travels to the Outback to investigate the disappearance of two scientists in the employ of Wayne Enterprises. Batman cares. Batman looks after his employees.
He meets up with Ms. McMurphy, another ecologist, and treats her with respect. Batman isn't a sexist pig. He's polite. He recognizes Ms. McMurphy's intelligence and her experience in dealing with the deadly Australian landscape. He discerns clues from her knowledge and combines that knowledge with his own.
Batman's pursuit of the missing scientists takes him to an old mining town. There he intimidates a real battle-axe and some uncooperative coots. Batman is a figure of fear. He can at one moment look like a man in a costume, but he can also blend with the shadows and use his white slits to pull the truth from you. Fear tidies the mind considerably, and Batman instills fear to jar the answers out of people.
Batman follows the clues. Batman is "the world's greatest detective," and he pieces together the answer to what appears to be a simple puzzle that is in actuality tied into Ra's Al Ghul's possible rebirth. This is Batman.
Milligan does not just throw together a Ra's Al Ghul story. He takes Ra's Al Ghul through history. We see time's personages mingle with Ra's, and we see his impact on a recognizable history. This isn't about Al Ghul's influence on the all-new Atom's foray into an Elizabethan Age overrun by Monitors. This is about Ra's colliding with real people from the past, such as H.G. Welles.
Milligan juxtaposes Ra's effect on real history with Batman's contemporary interference in his long-reaching plans. These plans involve Talia, who is depicted as almost sane, and Damien, Batman's and Talia's son from Son of the Demon, as well as a new character who appears to be Elric's brother. Elric you may remember is an incarnation of Moorcock's Eternal Champion. This character, also an albino, is the eternal champion of Ra's Al Ghul.
Batman's hunt for the truth forces him to contend against the League of Assassins, and upon reading these scenes, I almost wept. Too often, writers depict Batman as a mere bruiser or a skillful boxer. Batman is bar none the best martial artist on the planet. In The Batman Annual we see that prowess. Milligan treats the so-called Society of Shadows as mere annoyances to Batman. The Dark Knight dispatches these ninja rejects with ease, and that my friends, is how it should be.
The ending of The Batman Annual recalls Batman's very first appearance in "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," and Milligan's story spans all the facets that make Batman so fascinating. His cases often involved pulpy science fiction or the occult. Batman must think beyond the mere improbable. He often must consider what would normally be impossible and imagine how what was once thought of as impossible may become possible. This is what makes him the ultimate detective. His humanity arises in the reason why he is the ultimate detective. He hopes that his ratiocinative abilities will save lives and make the world a better place. For this, he is in addition a super-hero but as well a vigilante who works in the shadows to solve the cases that are beyond the ken of police.
Milligan's Batman Annual is quintessential Batman, but the Lopezes are not considered quintessential Batman artists. They damn well should be. David Lopez's Batman is scaled tall and sinewy. He moves quickly, furtively and purposefully. He fights like he's about twenty steps ahead of his opponent, and he can merge with the shadows one moment and issue classical heroism the next. Lopez roars an old Batman friend through the sky, and his illustrations of the regular folk Batman meets on his journey and Ra's Al Ghul's quest for world dominance are perfectly constructed, even when the anatomy leans toward corpulence or age. The historical figures are suitably elegant at times as well as mortal. Lopez gives several well-known heroes feet of clay, and meeting the needs of Milligan's script, real heroes are made by the results of their deeds not their airs.
Lopez's pencils enjoy a rich luster from Alvaro Lopez's lush inks. They make Batman's cape and cowl look leathery, but it's soft leather that flows from his shoulders and looks comfortable. Trish Mulvihill's colors exquisitely bake the Outback, green the forests and add an eerie glow to the Lazarus Pit.
While DC, surprise, surprise, did not hype The Batman Annual, Batman fans must not miss this book. I want Peter Milligan, the Lopezes and Mulvihill back on a Batman book right now.
Batman Annual #26
Review: Nick Marino Date: Sep 02, 2007
I don’t know where to place this annual tale by writer Peter Milligan in the general scheme of things. Is it happening now? Did it already happen? I feel like it takes place in the past, prior to Grant Morrison’s introduction of Damian Wayne. I must admit that I’ve read only a couple of Morrison’s Batman issues. But considering this is an origin story, the present time isn’t that important. It’s more important to recognize how Ra’s Al Ghul himself spans many time periods, as seen in the flashbacks that explain his earlier years. It’s an okay origin; not very inventive in my opinion. In fact, I see no reason for Ra’s to have such a mundane foundation of character as witnessed in this issue. Why not take a few chances and make his start rather exceptional? Instead, he’s a man that winds up in a loveless marriage that eventually tugs at his heartstrings as he’s already begun his descent into his more familiar villainous persona. It’s the research of his father-in-law that sparks the flame Ra’s has for eternal life. After a few unimaginative tragedies he has enough bitterness in his life to warrant his moral decline into a mercenary opportunist.
While we witness Ra’s slash his way through history, we watch Batman in Australia on the trail of Ra’s in the now. But he’s chasing ghosts, quite literally. Ra’s trusted aide – the White Ghost – is the closest the Dark Knight gets to his immortal antagonist. But hidden within the flashbacks and Batman action is some character development for both Damian and his mother, Talia. As they recount the history of Damian’s grandfather piece by piece, they also formulate a plan in secret. In fact, the plan is so secret that we don’t know they had one until the end. The White Ghost fails to transfer Ra’s into the body of his grandson and the mother-son team split before Batman confronts the White Ghost at the Australian Lazarus Pit.
The art is clean and unique. At first, I found it reminiscent of Paul Smith’s early 80s work on Uncanny X-Men. Even when it’s busy, the pages look a bit sparse – in a good way, I might add. Penciler David Lopez has excellent command of negative space, using it to create an amazing tension between the shadows and the lack thereof. If you could imagine a collision between the techniques of Frank Quitely, Paul Gulacy, and Paul Smith, that would give you a good idea of Lopez’s strengths. Alvaro Lopez inks over David with a strong line that catches the varied thicknesses and nuances of the pencil work very well. The colors of Trish Mulvihill are decent, exceeding especially well when working in shades of brown, purple, and yellow. Phil Balsman’s restrained letters match the art, blending the dialogue into the images with success.
This issue really managed to save itself. I had my first few lines all picked out. The review would have read something like this: “I really don’t think Ra’s Al Ghul is a solid antagonist for Batman. And this annual tale does nothing to change that opinion.” And truth to be told, I still don’t care much for the character of Ra’s Al Ghul. But I find the concept of the Lazarus Pits and those who would exploit them to be wonderful adversaries for a mortal man that loves to play invincible by means of technology and determination (that’s Batman I’m referring to incase you had some trouble following my line of thought). In this issue’s exploration of how the Lazarus Pits are almost their own sly and silent yet not unseen enemy, this story is a success.
Batman Annual #26 - I'd probably have more critique if I'd had my Birth of the Demon handy, but I didn't. That said, I didn't find anything really wrong with this origin of my favorite character. It filled in gaps and fleshed some things out. I dig Milligan and he didn't mess up my favorite character. And how great are Lopez and Lopez? They've been working on Catwoman since OYL and managed to do this annual without missing an issue.
This was fine in a wholly throwaway but still entertaining sort of way. Would've liked to see Milligan cut loose with it though.
BATMAN ANNUAL #26: Pretty much scene-setting for the upcoming Batbooks crossover next month, I'm not sure how true the cover blurb ("The origin of Ra's Al Ghul") really is - we see parts of his past, sure, but I don't really feel as if I've learned that much more about his motivations or exactly how he went from idealist to psychopath... Cutting to Talia explaining that his wife got killed and that "darkened his soul" doesn't really do the job for me. Again, Peter Milligan playing it straight is curiously unsatisfying - he doesn't really hit the petulant child mark for Damian, surprisingly - but David Lopez's art is nicer than his recent Countdown efforts. Okay, overall.
JUN070164 BATMAN ANNUAL #26: HEAD OF THE DEMON
DC Comics $3.99
Peter Milligan kicks off the return of Ra’s al Ghul with his origin retelling in “Head of the Demon”. David Lopez illustrates, and it will be nice to see him drawing something other than that awful CATWOMAN book.
Batman Annual #26 Head of the Demon
Adan: I really hate that Damian “Son of the Bat” kid.
It just doesn’t matter what he’s doing, what time period he’s in, or who he’s written by, that kid is just bad news. Every time he shows up, you know you’re in for a subpar issue. And boy was this is ever subpar. Every plot twist is telegraphed about five pages before the “reveal” and the jumps back and forth in time are muddled and confusing. This is touted as the “Origin of Ra’s al-Ghul,” but we learn very little of consequence. So he fought in Waterloo against Napoleon. Who gives a damn? So he was in Whitechapel while Jack the Ripper was doing his thing. Oooh, spooky. None of this matters to the character of Ra’s. In fact, all this “origin” story really does is introduce the documents that contain Ra’s “origin” story. It’s a sort of self-perpetuating MacGuffin that does an awful job of motivating anybody to do anything. And hey, another albino bad guy. Way to be original. What happened to you, Milligan? You used to be awesome. You know what, I’m gonna say editorial got in your way, and fucked you on this. This can’t possibly be your fault.
And why is nobody all that afraid of Batman in the Outback? Why’s he even out there as Batman? You’re a little out of your jurisdiction, mate.
At least the art’s pretty cool. David and Alvaro Lopez have a style reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke body types with Gary Frank faces. Regardless, they do share the blame for timejumps as their transitions could have used work (but I did like the panel borders differentiating past from present).
You know, maybe it’s nobody’s fault that this issue sucked.
Maybe it’s just Damian.
Batman Annual #26
I was really happy to see Team Lopez doing the art on this book. Those guys draw a nice Batman.
Alright, do we need another Ra's Al Ghul origin comic? Maybe not, but it doesn't hurt. And this was entertaining, nice-looking, and will bring new readers up-to-speed. I know some hardcore fans don't like updated versions of stories that were don't right the first time, but it is important to consider new readers. I'm just sayin'. The real challenge of re-telling an origin story is to make it both informative for newbies, and interesting for long-time fans. I liked reading this, and I definitely liked looking at it. Plus it's not a bad idea to incorporate Damian into the re-telling of Al Ghul's origin. It's a good comic. I've got no complaints.
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