Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jeremy Haun
This was one of the Villains Month issues that I was looking forward to, but at the same time slightly sceptical about. I was looking forward to it as Ra's al Ghul is a brilliant villain, but at the same time James Tynion IV's work has been slightly inconsistent.
The Secret Society of Super Villains attempt to recruit Ra's al Ghul, but Ra's needs to be impressed first, with the Society's representative trying to do so by telling the Ra's life story to him.
This was an amazing issue, as although it wasn't quite as good as I hoped, it was still much better than I dreaded it'd be. James Tynion IV has shown how good a writer he can be with this issue, as although he's not done quite as good in Red Hood and the Outlaws as of late, it was nice to read a great story from him again. I also enjoyed the unique way that Tynion IV told this story, as although it may not appeal to everyone, I personally loved how it was felt it made it rather different compared to the other Villains Month issues. The issue was also very dramatic, though the quick pace of the flashbacks was slightly disappointing. It was however still a fantastic issue, and I really hope Ra's will appear in a storyline in the near future.
The artwork on this issue was also brilliant, and Jeremy Haun did as good a job on this issue as he did on the Riddler issue last week. I probably actually preferred Haun's artwork slightly in this issue, as it suited the style of story much better, and I really enjoyed how he handled the different time periods. I also loved Haun's layouts, as it added a lot more depth to the issue, as well as giving some tone, and I especially loved the atmosphere that it produced. I also really liked how Haun handled Ra's, as although he seemed slightly stiff at times, I loved how he managed to look so focused and calculating other times, as it was obvious that this man thought through his actions, and I was happy that Haun showed this.
This story would revolve around the Secret Society trying to recruit Ra's to their cause, with that being the catalyst that sets up the flashbacks to Ra's past. The recruitment part itself however was very interesting, as although I didn't recognise the person that was trying to win Ra's over the interaction, and the way he felt so sure of himself made the encounter a bit more interesting. I also liked that on top of all that confidence that this man wasn't a complete idiot, as he showed signs of fear and agitation, being startled by certain developments.
Ra's reaction to the Society's offer was however the most interesting part about this issue, as although the flashbacks would have probably been the best if not at too quick a pace, that spoiled that part slightly for me. What I loved most about Ra's reaction was that it was so typical of his character, which I liked as although sometimes predictability can be a bad thing, in this case it was nice as it showed his characteristics. I also loved how due to certain reactions from Ra's that we got to see a little bit of action from him, though I would have loved it if there was a lot more of it, as although Ra's tries to do things the smart way in an attempt to avoid fighting, it's nice to be reminded how good he is.
As I said this would tell Ra's history through flashbacks, also starting with one which was set around the times of the Crusades. Now overall I loved these flashbacks, and especially the one at the start of the issue and the one that involved Ra's encounters with Batman. At the same time some of them were a little short lived, as although this allowed the story to show more of Ra's influence over the years, there were a couple that I would have liked some expansion on. I also liked how it showed some of the more recent events, as well as how it showed well known Ra's associates such as the White Ghost.
This was a fantastic issue, and I was very happy to see Ra's al Ghul as a main character in a story again, and hope that this will lead to him making a return in a continuing storyline. The issue itself however was very dramatic, and suspenseful, showing Ra's characteristics perfectly. It was also one of the most unique Villains Month issues that I've read so far, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.