A section from
‘A Jedi shall not know hatred, nor fear… nor love.’ from Star Wars Episode II
BATMAN: SON OF THE DEMON
Batman: Son of the Demon represents what a Graphic Novel should - fine art that is free of any need for interpretation, mature themes in the storyline and a turning point in the story of the protagonist that closes one chapter and sets up the background for another. When SotD was published there were fewer graphic novels than there are today in 2010, and the creation and publication of one was a considerable task and event. What sets SotD apart from other stories is the illustration and plot - the skillfully executed combination which makes it one of the best graphic novels in my opinion.
The story shows a flawed and vulnerable side of Bruce Wayne - vengeful, greedy, lusty, and compromised; and it demonstrates another example of how tragedy does not leave him, and how he unapologetically deals with it.
It starts off simple enough - Batman rescues hostages and reminds us all of his crime-fighting prowess. But something goes wrong and leaves the Batman in need of rescue himself, this time by an old flame - Talia al-Ghul - Ra’s’ daughter and a fiery, tempestuous brunette. The first layer of the story begins with the couple teaming up to investigate a murder, despite some mutual mistrust. They are lead to Ra’s’ totalitarian kingdom in snow-capped mountainous terrain where the multiple storylines begin to converge.
“Ah, Master Bruce, you have awakened. Just in time to sample to chicken consom…”
“Keep it hot Alfred, I’ve got work to do.”
“Beloved, you cannot move in your condition. Your wound…”
“I am forced to agree with Miss Talia, Sir. I forbid…”
“I don’t recall asking for a vote.”
(Sigh) “You can be most exasperating at times.”
“Indeed. Please, Miss Talia… take care of him.”
“I will, Alfred.”
Talia and Bruce’s relations in the past are referenced to often, and Talia always refers to him as ‘beloved’. Her familiarity and comfort being around him and picking up their relation as if there were no gap makes Bruce a little wary of her. He remains unsure of her true intentions, but doesn't confront her directly because of his own attraction. Their relation is a crucial part of the plot.
The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend
Once the Batman is in Ra’s’ presence they hostility almost overtakes reason until they discover that they are after the same villain, although their reasons are opposite. Ra’s wants the man called Qayin to settle a personal vendetta, while the Batman wants him in connection with a murder.
“It may be a mission in which the three of us find ourselves as allies… and it may be my last mission, for should I perish in this endeavor, the Lazarus Pit may no longer be able to restore me.”
In search of a common foe, Batman and Ra’s’ form an easy but imperfect alliance; and Batman comes to know of Ra’s’ past and the tragedies that broke his family. This story of Ra’s’ portrays him as an anti-hero and a possible father-figure to Bruce Wayne. Between Bruce and Ra’s’ there is a mutual respect that remains unspoken, and at the end of the story they part in peace, not as enemies or as friends, but as a family that never was, nor could ever be.
The usually lone-ranger Batman teams up with Ra’s’ and his crack forces to overcome a war-profiteer in a story which has glimpses of a nuclear showdown reminiscent of the Cuban missile crisis. Action takes the form of sabotage, invasions, military demolitions instead of Batman’s snatch-and-grab psychologically terrorizing tactics.
“There’s never been any room in my life for a woman… that’s what I told myself, after every liaison I’ve ever known shattered… maybe that’s just what I wanted to believe. I’ve tried to forget you, God knows…”
Talia and Bruce rekindle their relationship and this is the final layer in the plot and is the central theme. Despite the baggage of their past, Bruce’ uneasy alliance with Ra’s’, Talia’s sometimes difficult relationship with her father and the matter at hand, their time together is idyllic. Talia and Bruce find their newly found domestic situation blissful, but this period of their life is short lived. Talia is caught in metaphorical crossfire and the situations spirals horribly wrong, leaving both of them to make tough decisions. Bruce, unwilling to let go of the happiness that he has found and the chance of having a family, blinds himself to the mission and is even willing to sacrifice his mask for the sake of having a normal life. It is left up to Talia to take the call, and her decision has effects reaching far into the future that are felt even in Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come.
Because of the twist at the end which does anything but conclude the story Son of the Demon is required reading for the casual or serious Batman fan. The events of the story (the alliance with Ra’s, the relationship with Talia and the tragedy that Bruce has to deal with) add to the core of Batman’s appeal which is a dark and tragic hero perpetually bordering on the edge; one who gets his fix by dealing with one kind of pain by tackling another.
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