A Year of Cool Comics – Day 69
Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we take a look at the first major Ra’s Al Ghul storyline that ran from Detective Comics #411 to Batman #232, 235, 240 and 242-244, written by Denny O’Neil and penciled by a trio of artists, most famously, Neal Adams
An interesting aspect of the first stories involving Ra’s Al Ghul by Denny O’Neil and friends is the fact that the Batman within these stories is barely recognizable when compared to the super-competent Batman of today. The Batman of the first Ra’s story really needs the help of other practically ordinary people to help bring down Ra’s.
This epic storyline begins with Batman faking Bruce Wayne’s death so he can free his time entirely to taking on Ra’s Al Ghul, the international criminal mastermind who had been introduced just recently (along with Ra’s daughter, Talia).
This is the first time Batman takes on the identity of Matches Malone (Malone is introduced and is killed in these issues, leaving the identity available for Batman to use). Batman teams up with a scientist who had worked with Ra’s (not of his own volition) and they race to stop Ra’s and Talia from unleashing a deadly plague. Through the story, Batman gets aid from some unlikely sources, like a famous alpine skier!!
Ultimately, Batman tracks them down only to discover Ra’s dead in Batman #244. He takes Talia into custody but is then confronted by Ra’s – this is the first time we see the use of the Lazarus Pit.
Surrounded by Ra’s men, Batman could be in major trouble as they could just burst in and have him shot.
Ra’s, however, is impressed with Batman and instead allows Batman to duel with him.
So yeah, shirtless Batman and Ra’s fighting a duel to the death in the desert (with Talia torn between her father and the man she might very well love).
And when a scorpion stings Batman and he appears to die, Talia gives him an antidote, and Batman proceeds to confront Ra’a yet again – and Ra’s is pretty clearly not expecting to see Batman…
As you can see, this is a different era of Batman comics, one that Grant Morrison recently evoked – when Batman would spar with bad guys bare chested and then, of course, make out with their hot daughters…
This was a very cool storyline, and what’s especially neat is that even when Adams is not drawing the book, the comic STILL looked fantastic, as Irv Novick was a brilliant, brilliant artist in his own right. And Bob Brown, whose issue kicks off the arc, was certainly no slouch, either – if you ever wanted to see a storyline featuring Neal Adams that couldn’t have all issues drawn by Adams, Novick and Brown would definitely be your men.