For all twelve of you that listen to the Off the Rack podcast (ok…that number’s inflated to make me feel good) you know I’m on a Greg Rucka kick as of late. Batman: Death and the Maidens fits right in as it’s one of his best works.
Batman has many nemesis: Joker, Penguin, Clayface, but none so malevolent and cunning as Ra’s al Ghul. Death and the Maidens focuses on Ghul’s history and his family. Thalia, the daughter we know and Nyssa the daughter we didn’t (at least I didn’t). In the great tradition of ancient times Nyssa is not only his bastard daughter, but also his lover for a time and whom he hoped once would bear him an heir.
The crux of the story is Bruce dealing with losing his connection to the pain, anger and sadness from the loss of his parents twenty-five years prior. This is quite an undertaking for Rucka and he does magnificently with the execution.
This nine-part mini-series follows the lives and history of Bruce, Ra’s and Nyssa leading us through decades of events and divergent character growth. To see Ra’s suffering and nearly dying as his access to Lazarus Pits is cut off. Nyssa is a seriously twisted character, but spending time in a Nazi concentration camp after watching your children raped and murdered will do that to you.
What drew me to this story was Rucka’s take on Batman and his impact on Bruce. There is a scene where Bruce, while in a serum induced dream/hallucination/metaphysical state interacts with his parents and his father expresses great sadness at what he has become. Bruce, though, shows his father, with a little help from Alfred, that the Batman is who he was meant to be.
There are many underlying stories within Death and the Maidens, too many go to into here, but are well worth your time to delve into. The way Rucka ties so much together should surprise no one since he continues this style of writing during his run on Superman.
Batman Death and the Maidens is a fantastic story with great art. Dive in and enjoy the run. It earns an A grade from this reviewer.
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Till next Wednesday…