Batman: Son of the Demon
Mike W. Barr, writer,
Jerry Bingham, artist
(DC Comics, 1987)

The opening sequence of Batman: Son of the Demon shows the Batman in rare form, slipping in and out of the shadows as he tackles a gang of heavily armed hostage-takers, remaining largely invisible even to readers until the situation nears resolution. It's a good scene, although I suspect it would have been a whole lot more effective if the artwork had shown Batman in dark, nearly black attire instead of the bright blue jammies shown by so many DC artists. Alas.

Then a prominent Gotham City scientist turns up dead, and Talia, daughter of the sinister and somewhat immortal Ra's Al Ghul (a perpetual megalomaniacal foe of Batman's), turns up just in time to join Batman on the case. If you're not familiar with Talia, she's drop-dead gorgeous, worships her father like a god (although she frequently disobeys him) and calls Batman "beloved" quite a lot. The mission takes them to her father's HQ, where they join forces against a common enemy named Qayin, who has a grudge against Ra's and is willing to make it rain hard in Moscow to accomplish it. Oh, and Ra's tells Batman he has to marry Talia or he won't cooperate, so Batman agrees.


OK, let's forget for the moment that Batman probably wouldn't agree so quickly to such a condition, even if she is a hottie. Let's even ignore the fact that, once she becomes pregnant, Batman becomes a dithering wuss, an overprotective jerk and, uh, "happy" -- like this is believeable material? The one panel that proves Mike W. Barr, the writer of this story, has a dim understanding of the character is on p. 68. Go ahead, have a look, I'll wait. Ready? Batman disarms a villain, takes the villain's automatic weapon, tosses it lightly to Ra's and tells him to "put this to good use." And Ra's begins shooting people.

Now, anyone who knows anything about Batman knows he -- even grief-stricken and bloody well pissed off -- would do everything in his power to prevent anyone from getting killed. But no, he instead becomes an accessory to lethal force. (I won't call it "murder" because, after all, they were shooting back.)

There are a lot of problems, primarily of character, with Son of the Demon. I've heard scuttlebutt claiming that DC editorially considers it something of a retroactive Elseworlds story; in other words, current writers are not to consider this storyline to be a part of their ongoing continuity. I hope that is true because, while Son of the Demon is a strong and interesting tale in many ways, it is not true to the Batman mythos. Although, granted, it was nice to see him actually get the girl for a change.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 14 July 2001

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