Batman and Ra’s having a conversation in the Batcave.  Right behind shirtless sword fighting, I think this is one of the most quintessential things that comes to mind when I picture these two.  If all you came to this comic for was that, you should be leaving pretty happy.  It also has two twists/surprises I didn’t see coming.  The first of which I thought was pretty cool.  The second, however, had some logical inconsistencies to it that didn’t sit well with me.  But we’ll get to that and more as we break down “League of Shadows” part 4.

In the past, Batman and Ra’s have always had very civil conversations, but this one is anything but that.  Ra’s is still calm and collected throughout, but seeing as how Batman’s soldiers have all been captured or potentially killed, he treats Ra’s with a much more antagonistic manner than he typically would.  It’s a nice dynamic to have one of them on edge and the other so nonchalant.  The fact that Batman is trying to use his rage to intimidate Ra’s into telling him what is going on and it’s not working merely serves to drive Batman into a greater uncontrolled frenzy.  I’m certain the constant smirks that Ra’s keeps throwing Batman’s way aren’t doing anything to diminish the hostilities either.

As their conversation progresses, Ra’s reveals the first twist, which is actually the best part of the whole issue if you ask me.  I’ll throw this part of the discussion in a spoiler tag since it’s worth the surprise if you haven’t read the issue yet. 

Spoiler
  Ra’s used magic to erase The League of Shadows from Batman’s mind.  But that’s not even the cool part.  It happened multiple times, and each time it happened, Ra’s wiped his mind again.  But it never worked because if you leave Batman with even the smallest hint of a clue or a nagging feeling in his gut, he’s going to investigate till he’s satisfied (that’s the cool part).  Finally, instead of just removing the memory of The League of Shadows, Ra’s gave Batman an answer for them that would satisfy even his curiosities.

This whole thing kind of reminded me of the time Zatanna wiped Batman’s mind so he would forget about the time The League did some mental manipulation on Dr. Light.  That story leads into another story with Batman realizing that something was done to his mind, kinda like how he kept investigating in the flashback of this story.  Not only that, but Ra’s uses backwards magic talk to remind Batman of what he had forgotten the same way Zatanna did to take it from him.

I think that some of the confusion and frustration that has stemmed from readers is due to the fact that in the past the title League of Shadows could be used to refer to The League of Assassins.  But in Tynion’s take, these two things aren’t two different titles for the same organization.  It’s like the League of Assassins is the primary organization and The League of Shadows is a sub-organization within it.  As such, it’s possible to forget one without having to forget the other.  When Batman kept saying that The League of Shadows was just a myth, I think people were inferring that it meant he didn’t believe in The League of Assassins. 

Once all the necessary backstory has been divulged, the second twist comes into play.  While I didn’t think this twist was any less surprising than the first, I did think it lacked logic.  Seeing as how I wasn’t that impressed with it, I’m going to speak about it openly.  Sorry if that ruins it for anyone.

Ra’s broke into the cave in order to subdue Batman and hand him over to Shiva so she would leave him and The League of Assassins alone.  What I find odd about this is that she let them all go two issues ago.  If she had wanted them captured, why didn’t she just do it then.  Also, she said that there was nothing they could do to stop her anyway.  So, why would she need them as captives to prevent them from stopping her if she knows they don’t have a chance of stopping her anyway.  Just seems like a peculiar deal to make in order to get something she didn’t need and could’ve easily gotten on her own.

On a slightly less confusing note is the fact that Ra’s actually wants Batman to defeat The League of Shadows but doesn’t really set him up for success.  Ra’s gives Batman back his lost memories, and in doing so, says he gave him the upper hand he needs to beat them.  But he hands Batman over to Shiva in a completely paralytic state.  Seems to me that if he was genuine about taking out The League of Shadows, he would join forces with Batman.  Batman, Ra’s, and The League of Assassins versus Shiva and The League of Shadows seems like a much more even playing field than Batman versus Shiva and The League of Shadows.  I understand that Ra’s is playing a role in taking out The League of Shadows, but he’s doing it in such a way that he doesn’t suffer any fallout from failure.  While it’s clever in that it simultaneously protects him and gets someone else to do his dirty work for him, I’m simply more used to Ra’s being a more hands on type of guy.

Takara’s prettier stuff…

…versus the interior art for this issue.

Art for this issue is handled by Marcio Takara, and what I’m about to say is actually something I’ve said in a previous review.  Over the years, I’ve noticed that Takara has two distinct styles.  One is very clean, minimalistic, and somewhat cartoony in style.  The other is rough and unkempt looking.  This issue sports the later, and I’m a fan of the former.  So naturally, I find the art for this issue to be somewhat lacking.  That’s not to say that I find Takara lacking as an artist, I’m simply more preferential towards his more stylistic renderings.

Spoiler

Umm…did she just kill all those guys?

  • Either she just went off the deep end or she is using non lethal strikes.  I’m guessing non lethal since she had just gone on about not killing.  But still.

Interesting Facts:

  • Keaton’s Batmobile and Bale’s Batpod.  I love when they throw in nods like this.  It’s ultimately irrelevant to the story at hand, but fun nonetheless.

  • There’s an older League of Assassins story in which they use explosives on fault lines to generate controlled earthquake strikes meant to take out specific targets.  Seems like the target this time might be all of Gotham, but it still feels like a subtle nod to that other story.

Recommended if…

  • You like seeing Ra’s and Batman engage in mental sparring.

Overall:

Seeing Ra’s interact with Batman is always a real treat, but the art is nowhere near as good as I know Takara is capable of and there’s also some illogical actions taken by Shiva.  Fortunately, the Batman/Ra’s stuff takes up the bulk of the book, so the less than stellar stuff isn’t quite as detrimental as it otherwise might have been.

SCORE: 7 / 10