How could you not appreciate a 3D lenticular cover with moving ninjas? This 3D cover is truly amazing and the artists have been kind enough to give us a different Batman on the cover again! Our featured villain truly looks menacing and mad as he is surrounded by the mist of the Lazarus Pit.
Batman and Robin #23.3 kicks off in the past as we are teleported back to 1285 during the Crusades War as the story of Ra’s Al Ghul is presented with a horrifying tone. This initial visit to the Demon’s Tower is filled with tension. The further Prince Gerhardt travels down the tower the closer he gets to the Lazarus Pit. However, with each step towards the pit we see the Prince’s emotions change as he is becomes consumed by fear, culminating in a rather creepy scene.
We are then brought to the present to find out that the story of Ra’s Al Ghul is being narrated by a messenger of The Society. The Society has extended an invitation to the Demon himself. However, Ras Al Ghul seems less than thrilled as he tells the messenger to tell him more about himself. The messenger recalls Ras Al Ghul’s formation of The League of Assassins and his exploits throughout history. This history recollection is really great as his character has not really been explored in the New 52 comics, despite being featured in Batman Incorporated. We then jump forward to a more recent experience, Ra’s Al Ghul’s confrontation with Batman, Batman’s importance to The Demon Head and The League of Assassins is made know to the reader in the form of great dialogue and imagery.
One thing I do wish is that the story was narrated from a better source. The messenger is some unknown villain, so you immediately know that he is going to suffer by the end of this issue. The minute this guy walks into the room Ra’s Al Ghul glares in disbelief, maybe because he is unimpressed by the idea of these super villains teaming up or maybe he is thinking, “Geez they could have at least sent Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.” Ra’s Al Ghul has a vision, one in which he is not a super villain. Instead, he considers himself a constant force of change that will pop up when necessary. He has no intention of joining a villain’s only club. He also knows that Batman has not perished, so this Forever Evil idea is no more than a gimmick to him.
This issue is well paced, even throughout the numerous time shifts the dialogue remains constant and tells a great story the way in which it should be told. This issue manages to grasp the reader from the get go and it remains interesting throughout.
Jeremy Haun gives us a great looking Ra’s Al Ghul, and an exceptional looking issue. You can see the fear in the eyes of every victim as the expressions are well drawn. The only problem is the use of bright colours when telling this epic tale. It steals away from creating that feeling of horror throughout the issue, but maybe this is intentionally done as you already have the Court of Owls doing the whole horror genre. But the bright colouring does feel a little out of place and unnecessary rendering some panels with a cartoon look. Fortunately, it does not steal from a rather well written tale of one of the Batman Universe’s most influential villains.
Batman and Robin #23.3 is a very good issue, one that stands out above the rest in the Batman villain month issues. This is a history lesson that you do not want to miss. You get to see an icon evolve through the 700 plus years of his existence.