Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[Best of Batman] Batman: Son of the Demon by Mike Barr

I wasn't sure if I really did enjoy reading this, to be honest. In reflection, it has everything I liked about a Batman comic book that should make me enjoy it. One, it has Ra's Al Ghul and everything with Ra's is always something I welcome (and more often than not, something awesome always happens with him around). Second, it has Batman/Bruce Wayne dealing with a situation where things are getting personal for him and I have to read him cope with them with the strength and integrity I have always admired about him. Third, these two things are basically the highlights of this eighty-paged story. How could I ask for more? Well, let's not forget we also have Talia Al Ghul whom I still do not have any sort of strong attachment to. I don't despise her but I'm not that fond of her either. That means her presence in the story hardly did anything for me--that was until the last page where I sort of respected her more.

Batman: Son of the Demon is unexpectedly a story about families. Sure, the title is an indication but the events that happened within still came as a shock to me. The focal point of the story is to show Batman/Bruce Wayne in more grounded and humane terms where we see him long to form a stronger connection with people--and he found so in the most unlikely places: in the arms of Talia who had always seen him as more than just a man underneath a mask; and her father, his supposedly arch-nemesis, whose ideals might conflict those that Bruce Wayne possess as Batman, but is probably the closest person who can understand best the meaning and message of his own one-man crusade in Gotham City. These two people have always been at odds with Batman but they also admire and respect Bruce Wayne as a person with convictions. On his part, Bruce is still and will always be that kid who watched his parents' murder, and though he has turned that trauma and grief into something immensely heroic and noble, he knows that it's also for a steep price. While reading this comic book, I truly get the sense that Bruce wants to have a normal life in spite of the obligations that his calling as the Dark Knight entails. And being with the Al Ghuls has given him the opportunity to be a part of that social construct again.

I really liked the approach for this story. I really believed Ra's alliance and friendship with Bruce is genuine and it's quite refreshing to see them work together to track down a common enemy (a villain that served the plot well enough but he didn't stand out to me that much). Talia's interactions with Bruce did not make me cringe or anything. I appreciate the reason for their coupling and affectionate treatment for each other most especially when SPOILER SPOILER she announced that she's pregnant with his child. I was joyous for Bruce at that moment. The possibility of being a parent; to have that chance to be a part of a family again, was something I know Bruce as a man and a human being dreams of, even if his life ever since becoming Batman has been plagued by nightmares. I'm going to start discussing the resolution of this comic book now so don't proceed unless you wouldn't mind the spoilers. Grant Morrison created Damian Wayne based from this plot point in Son of the Demon, I believe, but the infant here for this story was left unnamed. Talia also made that heartfelt yet devastating decision to make Bruce believe that she had a miscarriage so she can send off the baby to a couple who will raise him and make him (as Bruce wanted "the happiest child in the world"). Talia knew the complicated life she lives as an Al Ghul, and Bruce's dangerous vigilante lifestyle, and knew that the best chance their child has is to be away from all that madness and violence. It certainly broke my heart and it's probably the most honorable thing Talia Al Ghul ever did on my book.

I did enjoy the story for this angle but the plot concerning the villain was really more like a backdrop for me, something to keep the story moving to action-oriented directions while a more personal story is being developed alongside it. Overall, Son of the Demon is a great story, filled with some lightness and optimism within that one would not expect from a Batman comic book.


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