Monday, May 26, 2014

[Best of Batman] Birth of the Demon by Dennis O'Neil

This comic book is the origin story of one of Batman’s formidable foes: Ra’s al Ghul. Written by the ever amazing Dennis O’Neil, the mythos of Ra’s awakening from man to beast is exemplary, a tantalizing tale of revenge and rebirth that is ripe with tragic losses, quasi-philosophical dreamings and destitution of humanity. Ra’s has always been an enigmatic character long before Liam Neeson played him in Nolan trilogy.

Written in a language long forgotten, the story traces the origins of an exceptional individual As soon as he was born, a prophesy was foretold about his existence: he will become either a savior or a destroyer. Years after, Ra’s lived in an kingdom as a promising physician whose kindness was taken advantage of by a cruel prince. When the prince fell ill, he felt responsible for his health and while he slept in a desert during his travel, he begins to actively beseech a demon in his dreams. Afterwards he stumbled upon the Lazarus Pit and had cured the prince with its magical properties. But he was repaid by the prince with pain and the loss of his wife Sora.

Ra’s became desperate and was drawn to the demon Bisu of his dreams and that led him to a path that transformed him not only physically but spiritually as well. He was locked in an internal moral struggle with this beast until he became the monster himself. Losing his wife has hardened him beyond recognition and having an immortal life enabled him to use it for darkness and vengeance. He becomes entangled with Bruce Wayne centuries later after his daughter Talia falls for the caped crusader. Their conflict has span for years until their confrontation in the desert. The fight sequence was extraordinary; just pages and pages of painfully visceral images that assaulted my senses. In the end, Bruce Wayne was the victor and he declared himself alive and whole. He tried to dig his way through the sand for any sign of Ra’s body and found his Batman costume instead.

A panel later his Batman mask changed into the demon’s head (the object that Ra’s has named himself after). The harrowing implication was hard to miss. While Ra’s fulfilled his destiny to be the destroyer, Bruce has found his place as the savior, just as the prophesy foretold. And as he stood there alone in the desert where the daybreak has found him as a new man, Bruce Wayne was filled with savage joy.

It was quite an intense experience to read the 116 pages of this lavish book. It’ definitely exhilarating.


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