I’ve felt that the last year has been lost in the convoluted mysticism of the All-Caste, the Untitled, and most recently the League of Assassins has held back Red Hood and the Outlaws. That seems to have blissfully come to an end with “The Rage of Ra’s al Ghul.” Unclear plot lines, unresolved issues, and seemingly nonsensical decisions by the main cast of characters has kept Jason Todd and his allies battling of the corner they were written into so many issues ago. Rather than simply disregard or pocket veto the struggle between the underdeveloped All-Caste and the even more unexplained Untitled, James Tynion tried to revamp the story by adding an iconic villain in Ra’s al Ghul.
This latest issue is the conclusion of the Ra’s al Ghul/League of Assassins arc, and actually succeeds in tying up many of the loose ends that aggravated and infuriated fans of Red Hood and the Outlaws. The issue opens up with S’aru, everyone’s favorite Ang the Airbender clone, Ducra, and Jason Todd discussing how Ra’s was able to take control of the Untitled. It is here that Ducra reveals to Jason why he must relinquish his memories in order to stop Ra’s.
At the end of the last issue, Jason, Roy, and Kori have pursued Ra’s into the Well of Sins, where they battle Ra’s, Rictus, and December Greystone respectively. The Well of Sins begins to manifest itself into each combatant’s personal demons, and Tynion has Ra’s do the classic “try to force the hero to surrender before killing him rather than just kill him outright” routine. While Ra’s and Jason battle their darkest fears and regrets, Roy and Kori have some decent action sequences. Julius Gopez has his time to show off within the Well of Sins sequence, with a nice series of pages highlighting the Jason and Ra’s battle. There’s also a nice scene mid-battle demonstrating where Jason draws his strength from.
The issue finishes the All-Caste arc on a strong note, leaving few unanswered questions or details. There is a very cool page featuring Essence, and if the final pages are to be believed Red Hood and the Outlaws will certainly be moving in a different direction going forward.
About the artwork: the first three pages, which serve as a flashback, are drawn by Noel Rodriguez and look very well done. The only issue would be S’aru, who is easily my least favorite person in perhaps the entire New 52 (bold claim, I know), and one of the worst-drawn characters. Hopefully they don’t use him again, ever. The transition from Rodriguez back to Gopez is a little jarring, and I would’ve liked to have seen Rodriguez get the full issue. Any other notes I’ll throw in the Spoilers section.
- Talia being Ra’s’ greatest demon was a cool image, and she was drawn well
- Cheshire has a cool moment, and decides to go solo. Maybe we’ll see her down the road
- Jason uses THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP to create Well of Sins versions of Roy and Kori. I can’t get across enough how much I hate “the hero won because he had his friends behind him” cliché. Do villains not have friends?
- The punch that Talia showed him would be the one thing that beats Ra’s, because of course. That cliché can leave, too.
- The splash pages with Essence gaining Ducra’s powers was pretty cool, and showed many of the universe’s magic users like Constantine and Trigon.
Favorite Quote: “Well, now you’re all unconscious. Oh, well.” – Chesire
- You’ve been following this arc and want to see it to the end
- You’re up for a good Ra’s al Ghul fight
- THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP appeals to you
This issue brought a lot to the table, but ultimately the importance of “The Rage of Ra’s al Ghul” lies in the fact that it provides closure. Closure, not just for this arc, but for the entire mystic quality of the All-Caste and Untitled for the time being. I hope future issues look back on these last few chapters of Jason Todd’s story and craft a more coherent train of thought.