Monday, July 29, 2013

Will Ra's Al Ghul have the last laugh?

With Morrison ending his run we'll finally have some answers to some very pressing questions in regards to the family Al Ghul. Where's Talia? Why was Bruce so obsessed with finding different means of bringing Damian back? What about the Lazarus Pits? And just what happened to the Demon Head himself?

Discussed SPOILERS for Batman Inc. and Red Hood and the Outlaws

Many assumed that Bruce was mourning at his parents graves in a flash forward until one of those graves was revealed to be Damians'. So who had the matching plot? Many of us are guessing it's Talia which would be another similarity to DITF with mother and son buried next to each other. Where else does the character have to go at this point? She seems suicidal and barely had any close friends/family/allies she could rely on. No one mentions her in present context in Batman and Robin or RHATO. Bruce is bitter when he refers to her in the former and only her past plans are mentioned in the latter. If Bruce kills her--well nothing shown in other comics taking place afterward really reflect that. Unless the version Tomasi is writing was unhinged by such an ordeal.

It's been mentioned that the Lazarus Pits have been disappearing in INC. with the only known being located in England. (I think that's where it was.) In RHATO it's revealed that all the pits are run offs from the main one known as the Well of Sins. This one has been around since the dawn of time, is more potent and created the powerful beings known as the Untitled. Ra's Al Ghul made a deal with the All Caste never to use the Well of Sins and sealed it with the League of Assassins to protect it. He was taken under house arrest by Talias' forces (Inc.) although Shiva claims he's not presently in charge of the league (RHATO.)

I've been thinking about this and I'm speculating Ra's current involvement in RHATO as the one helping the Untitled. The one they mentioned as their associate. On the one hand this idea doesn't seem to go with the portrayal of Ra's working with the All Caste but on the other--it might actually answer a few spots of confusion I've had. Okay, so basically Ra's created his army in part to defend the Well of Sins which would stop the Untitled from taking over the world. Here's the thing, Ra's is pretty damn desperate at this point. Something made the other Lazarus Pits dry up, his blood heirs (the ones we know about anyway) aren't in the picture anymore, Talia had a good portion of the LOA taken in after Batman INC. defeated them. Although I think this might have started a little further back then that. See one of my problems with the switch from Lobdell to Tynion was they seem to say different things about who killed the Untitled but never state how it happened. Lobdell was mysterious on whether or not Essence did it with Jason assuming it because there was no one else to blame. Tynion said it was the Untitled and while I still see a plot hole with his version (like the member Jason killed that had no idea what he was talking about) I could see this working.

Why? Because it's state in 19 that only those with the All Caste training could reach the Acres of All. What did we learn in 22? That Ra's Al Ghul managed to charm his way into Ducras' heart and trained under her. All he would have to do was lead the Untitled there. Maybe it didn't occur to Essence because there were other immortals she trained, maybe she just assumed they could trust him. We don't know if Jasons' aware of the training. The idea would be risky of course since it could very well put the Untitled in charge and kill off a great deal of his assassins in the process. Even if he wanted to gain the Well of Sins for personal use there's a good chance it would still be destroyed since that's what the Untitled want. So why do all of this? It's a good excuse to study the Well of Sins and possibly create more pits but even if he doesn't he still has a chance at power. How? Well if he's playing both sides he'll take out the All Caste and the Untitled. His wild card? Jason Todd.

I'm not sure how much of Lobdells' story Tynion works off of since it doesn't quite fit (his Talia portrayal being a prime example) but Lobdell had Ra's being fine with Talia throwing Jason in the pit. That wasn't something she or Ducra expected from him. Now I don't know how or why Jason became the chosen one. Bronze Tiger claims it was Talias' plan since she always saw potential in him and knew he'd be the one to defeat them. I have no idea if father and daughter worked together to come up with it being him, etc. in this version. But Jason excels at his training and it becomes obvious he's the one that will slay these smoke monsters. Another theory I have is him gaining the "pure life" since his chest markings and that bit from Essence haven't been properly addressed. Maybe it will become a new way for Ra's to live by leeching off it? Dunno although his blood has made it possible to kill one of these guys.

I've also been trying to figure out what point the Batman and Red Hood #20 bit had other than the forced mind wipe. Now maybe none of this is true and I'm giving Tynion way too much credit. It's possible. Still I like to think Ra's was a little bit unsure of timing prior to this. Jason had killed one of the Untitled but he wasn't tracking them down after his fight with Essence in #7. Worse yet the unexpected happened and Jason was working with Batman Inc. as Wingman. Even if Ra's didn't figure that out DOTF happened and Jason stayed at the manor to recover. He wouldn't want the two of them to reconcile and the fact they did was unthinkable. But Bruce screwed up and if Ra's was able to find this out (maybe some of the assassins they fought were his and spied on them?) he'd be ready to strike. I mean why were two groups (the LOA and the Untitled) both looking for the Outlaws at once? Why after Jason and Bruce parted ways after a bitter argument?

Ra's would LOVE the fact that the one destined to take down the Untitled was Bruce Waynes' adopted son. It's part of the appeal. He's stepping out of the picture to give Jason a taste for being in command and through Bronze Tiger trying to show that his way works better than Bruces'. Just imagine Ra's taking a heir from Bruce much like Bruce took his family away from him. That's the perfect revenge. The Untitled mentioned this associate to Roy who assumed Roy wouldn't be able to create such a weapon without Kori. Which, to me, implies someone was counting on the other two showing up to help Jason and had some idea of what was needed to get past the defenses. This would be a much more satisfying reveal than say a member of the LOA council.

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