By Koppy McFad
January 22, 2009 - 02:54
This is part of the "Faces of Evil" theme that DC comics has been running this month with Ra's as featured villain of the issue. In recent years, we have learned a little too much about Ra's-- his origins, his background, his family, what he had for dinner-- to the point that the character has lost his air of mystery.
This issue does not restore that lost mystery but it does reveal something about the extent of Ra's fixation on Batman-- especially in his attempts to force Nightwing into the role as his new arch-foe to replace his old antagonist.
Nightwing in turn, shows himself worthy of assuming Batman's mantle as he easily handles an army of killers and then faces off against Ra's himself. It is quite an impressive showing for a character who has been under the shadow of the Batman for years.
In fact, for all his malevolence, Ra's is completely overshadowed by Nightwing in this issue. The hero's intensity, his passion and his physical prowess just leave the languid bad guy looking rather weak. Sure, he pulled some neat tricks with a sword but he is clearly no match for Batman's old sidekick.
The art serves the story well, making the transition from the darkness of the cave to the brightness of the desert rather smoothly. It also keeps the focus of the tale squarely on the two main characters, heightening the conflict. Intentionally or not, it also leaves Dick Grayson looking darker and grimmer-- and much older.
It is possible that this story is just a filler before the big "Battle for the Cowl" storyline begins. It doesn't really change anything about the two characters and may not even be followed up but it does set the stage for more conflicts between Nightwing and the rogues' gallery of his erstwhile mentor.
The cover is a bit dull however. It looks a bit suggestive, with Ra's urging the reader to join him in his hot tub.
Rating: 7 /10