Aside from it’s title being a complete mouthful, Batman and Robin #23.3: Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins is also surprisingly middle-of-the-road given its subject villain. Ra’s Al Ghul’s immortality offers a challenge for any writer attempting to tell his origin, and writer James Tynion IV uses the same approach he did recently in his Batman and Robin #23.2: Court of Owls #1 by briefly touching on important moments in the character’s past. Unfortunately the events depicted aren’t entirely memorable and the majority of the narration in the issue isn’t even done by Ra’s Al Ghul himself but by an attacker instead. Poor Ra’s Al Ghul is having his origin forced upon him.
I’m not familiar enough with the Secret Society of Super Villains to even hope to know who the representative is that presents an offer to Ra’s Al Ghul to join the team, but his sword fighting and monologue with Ra’s serves as the shaky crux of the issue. It’s incredibly preposterous just to read it written out and even more so when put to the page. Ra’s past, as it’s being told to him, places him as the culprit of several tragic events in the world’s history, including the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the cholera outbreak in 1832 New York City. Little did I know that Ra’s Al Ghul was the Forrest Gump of Batman villains.
Both artist Jeremy Haun and colorist John Rausch put out an amazing looking book, but it’s not right for this kind of title. Much like his Batman #23.2: Riddler #1 issue, Haun draws some incredibly smooth character designs with immaculate lines and coupled with Rausch’s vibrant colors, the issue comes off looking far too clean and whimsical given the subject matter. Setting the entire book with such a bright color palette erases the dark and brooding tone that the cover suggests should be inside. Batman and Robin #23.3: Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins does have one of the best looking 3D covers though, so there’s another notch in Ra’s belt.
Grade: GOOD (6.5/10)