The Marriage From Hell
I am back with Batman Bride Of The Demon. After the thrilling ‘James Bond-esque’ Son Of The Demon I was eager to jump once more into one of the best family feuds in comic books. Ra’s Al Ghul is one of Batman’s most threatening villains, physically and psychologically. So who wouldn’t want to see the two face off one more time?
Will this hold up the thrilling spy tone that the last one did? Will Ra’s marry a woman even crazier than he is? Will I ever get married? YES I JUST GOT ENGAGED! CONGRATS TO ME!
But for the answers to those first questions let’s dive right in!
Ride of the Demon
The book opens in a style similar to films like Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me. Two aeroplanes on a test flight are destroyed by a mysterious, futuristic, “whoever created this wants to destroy the world”, Jet. Maybe it was a bad idea calling the two test planes ‘Icarus.’ Did you catch the word play? I did! But other than that it’s a great intro.
Instantly we feel this is going to be another James Bond Batman Book. Similar to Venom and the prior Son Of The Demon…and I’m not complaining.
We join Ra’s al Ghul in his evil lair. There, as always, he talks about how this is ‘the last Lazarus pit,’ how Batman always stops him and how he must cleanse the world. It’s the typical ‘Pinky and The Brain’ Ra’s we’ve come to love, one who calls his staff ‘lackeys’ and generally has an air of arrogance about himself. It’s a nice touch to see the people that he conspires with interact with their children and it’s nice that the family aesthetic of the storyline is in every nook and cranny. You can compassionately relate to them and understand why under certain circumstances they would see Ra’s as a hero.
Playing the Playboy
We are introduced to Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake when they are attending one of Ra’s top scientist’s lectures. It’s a brilliant move by Mike W. Barr to truly play up Bruce’s playboy facade. Using it he is able to learn key information in a nonchalant way. He never stops being the detective.
Lured into a trap at the event he faces off against Ra’s Top Assassin and it makes for a thrilling set piece in the midsection of the book. I love the way that Batman still won’t let Tim tag along to the more dangerous aspects of the job and it’s clear that since Jason, he has become a changed man. Far more thoughtful of the lives that he is endangering, Batman seems less careless than in the past and it adds depth to his character.
A real standout moment is when Batman sprays a latex substance and makes a mask out of the would be assassin’s face who attacked him earlier (somehow it sits over his mask…yeah I don’t know either…comic books). From this segment the book really cements that this is tale
is a spy thriller and the reveal later reminded me of some of the TA DA moments that you would get in Mission Impossible. Using this technique, Batman infiltrates Ra’s base and we meet the titular Bride Of The Demon.
Evelyn Grayce was a successful movie star but like everything, time has taken away her glamour. Ra’s has used her vanity to seduce the woman into joining him in the Lazarus pit. Regaining her youth she becomes an almost selfish demon throughout the book, one that is easy to relate to. I’ve often wondered why Batman never used the pits in canon, it could ensure that age did not quell his drive and the book asks real questions of the readers. Would we be able to resist the temptation of youth?
I doubt many could. It’s brilliant that a Graphic Novel that has jet fights and karate as a foundation still manages to ask deep and introspective questions and fans will lap this up.
The introspective aspects of the narrative sums up Ra’s mission, whilst his goals are for the good, they are carried out in shades of grey that makes it tough for a reader not to sympathise with.
Death of a son
Dr. Carmody, Ra’s top scientist, too faces a moral dilemma. During an assault, Dr. Carmody’s son is killed and the father has to decide whether to side with Batman and save millions or side with Ra’s and save his son. Once again the reader is able to stand in his shoes and face the complex choice that he has. There is no real right or wrong answer. The character has already lost his wife and it adds an emotional core to the book that even Batman can view as a valid reason to side with the villain.
It’s during this chapter that we get one of the books most thrilling moments. Batman vs Ra’s and his men in the Batcave. We see just how methodical the detective is and how even when caught off guard he still has contingency plans (involving the batmobiles, even the ’66 one makes an appearance) to dispatch any foes that should be stupid enough to enter his home.
I was really impressed at how they handled Talia during these parts. She is caught in the middle, stuck between a man she loves and the man she is in love with, it adds a duplicity to the character that makes her one of the strongest females in comic books. She is no damsel in distress, she is a warrior, capable of taking down the Bat herself.
I love the bitterness and hope that is juxtaposed in her characterisation, she wants the Dark Knight to be happy whilst also feeling a need to destroy him. It’s a thing I’m sure everyone who has loved and lost can relate to and it elevates the book to a level above your average run.
‘Let me explain my evil plan’
Batman is captured and brought to Ra’s Base where he, of course, explains his evil plan. It’s once again a James Bond parable that may make or break the book for you as it’s not often a signature move we see done in Batman books.
I went with it, mainly because I believe that Ra’s has the utmost respect for Batman and would rather extend all his efforts in making him an ally before attempting to kill him.
The Dark Knight Rises
Batman is entombed and escapes through the genius tactic of using Ra’s weapons against him. I won’t spoil it as it’s one of the best moments in the canon read through thus far and is worth picking up the book for alone. It’s at this point that Ra’s plan starts to fall apart. Talia realises that she still loves him and acts as an aide whilst Carmody comes to the revelation that what he is doing is wrong and redeems himself.
The base gets destroyed, Ra’s and Batman fight and things go haywire. After the confrontation Bruce, Evelyn, Talia and Brant Carmody (the son) escape. The book wraps up nicely with Talia and Bruce having a sorrowful goodbye as the billionaire states that he doesn’t wish to know what happened to their child. He goes back to the cave to greet his real family, Alfred and Tim and it’s a joyous moment for the Caped Crusader.
The book ends with Evelyn informing Talia that she is carrying Ra’s child and this left me wanting more. Though this would never fully come to fruition.
Batman Bride Of The Demon is a highly underrated book that I believe bests Son Of The Demon. It carries its tone but escalates the stakes and human drama to heights that weren’t reached in the prior book. You can buy the graphic novel as a triple pack along with Son and Birth of the Demon and I highly recommend it, just for this story alone.
This is a James Bond story with Batman as it’s star and it ticks a lot of boxes, delivering a story in a rich and compelling way.
Leave a comment whether you agree with my ranking or not.