Last month Damian managed to rally the remaining fighters on the island to help him take down Mother Soul’s Lazarus demon. At last faced with Mother Soul herself, Damian was suddenly transported back into the past, right in the path of not only Mother Soul, but a younger version of his Grandfather as well!
Robin has had a number of cliffhangers that left me eager for the next issue over the series, but that of issue #9 was one of my top favorites so far. I mean, come on, sending Damian into the past? Face to face with his grandparents and great grandmother? Sign me up.
So just what happens in this jaunt to the past? Well it’s less an adventure and more of a lesson in Al Ghul history. It’s essentially a tour of this history focusing on Mother Soul, Ra’s and his rise, and the building of both the League of Assassins and the League of Lazarus. Now wait you might say, didn’t Damian get flung into the past? Well yes and no, it’s a vision brought on by Mother Soul herself. Which allows for Damian, and us readers, to explore a wide breadth of time.
This history lesson gives readers quite a bit of content to dig into. There’s a lot of new information here, most of this is in regards to his mother herself, but Williamson also explores Ra’s’ reasons for much of what he does and his own belief systems. It works as both a good primer to the characters, and as a way of inserting new characters and motivations into an older story. How successful it was probably depends on how much you care or know about Ra’s and his history, but for me it works.
I like the full set up of the League of Lazarus, and history of Mother Soul and her own beliefs. It honestly feels a little late in the game to get all this as this arc is starting to wrap up, but hopefully it’ll come into play moving forward. Things on the island certainly aren’t over by the end of the story, and this takes Mother Soul from being an enigmatic old woman to someone more fleshed out I’d like to see more from in the future.
Something else I did really like was that before Damian realizes this is a vision and not reality we get some really interesting moments between himself, Ra’s, and Mother Soul. Instead of being brash or engaging with the characters violently, Damian sticks around to learn a little more. Beyond that we see him attempt to comfort Ra’s himself after tragedy strikes. Every issue gives us more insight into Damian and little emotional beats like this, and I honestly cannot get enough of them. Despite what is most certainly a complicated relationship between Damian and Ra’s, he still reaches out to comfort the man.
Williamson also continues to play up the idea of Damian having to kind of choose between the two sides of his family, and having Damian come up with creative answers as to why he can just be both. Here he does it through Mother Soul, having her attempt to tell Damian who he should be, and having Damian counteract that by quite literally telling her who he is and utilizing that to flip the situation and take control of things back from his great grandmother.
Roger Cruz is back on pencils this month. While visually Damian himself generally feels a little older than he is, I love Cruz’s other character designs. Ra’s and Mother Soul in particular look really neat, and it’s wonderful to see them imagined at different ages from what I’m used to. He also creates a really beautiful scene with Mother Soul herself. There’s a moment when she’s speaking to Ra’s where she’s talking of her vision of the Lazarus demon, that’s just stunning. The fear on her face, and the monster itself, with a flaming Earth in its hand is both gorgeous and really cool.
Much like the last issue ended on a cliffhanger, so does this one. It excites me in a different way. Where the end of issue #9 left me asking “what’s going on?” this one promises an increase in the story’s momentum after this month’s rather slow story. It’s nice after this slower issue, to see the story’s tension ratchet back up, and I’m really interested in seeing how everything culminates in issue #11.
- A trip down Al Ghul memory lane is what you want
- You don’t mind Damian learning more about his heritage
- It’s always fun to have some ninja fight scenes to enjoy
The pace of the book slows down a bit here to give readers greater insight into the Al Ghul’s history, particularly Mother Souls, and that of the League of Lazarus. It’s much needed information, and adds to the character and the lore of the family as a whole. It also works well as a break from the action we’ve had these last few issues. Plus, I always love seeing Damian learn more about his family history. Overall, it’s another solid addition to the series.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.