Can you please name a story where Talia was the main character,prior to Morrison coming around? the best one I can think of is Son of the Demon and a short back up in a Batman Chronicles issue,other than this she's never really had any.Morrison has put Talia under the spotlight,now she is a major character.Your post sums up perfectly why comics are drowning in a pool of stagnation,fans are unable to let go of the past.How many times is Talia gonna betray Ra's? how many times is she gonna offer Batman her love only to be rejected? it was cliched.
As for Death and the Maidens,frankly I'm astounded that you actually like it.There Talia was repeatedly brainwashed and tortured by Nyssa in to becoming Nyssa's perfect soldier/lackey.Devoid of any emotion except for Nyssa herself,that Talia hated Bruce Wayne to the point where she said she'd no longer call him beloved and pulled a gun on him.All for what? just to build up this new character who gets shoehorned in to continuity and goes on to replace an iconic Batman adversary.Nyssa was the female equivalent of Hush,no wonder she got offed so quickly.
Also Red Hood:Lost Days...um that's a good Talia story? the same one where she slept with Jason Todd(someone who was almost like a son) in order to turn him against Batman,and keep in mind this was before the events of the Hush storyline so Ra's was fully alive at that time,so either Talia lied or the writer screwed up big time.
Grant has given Talia enough development for me to consider her turn to villainy organic,he didn't just turn her evil without any explanation.Talia felt rejected,she now wants to prove that she can be better than both Bruce and Ra's as well as any other men whom she has met (Luthor,Bane).As you mentioned she has betrayed Ra's(and Luthor) many times just for Bruce but he being Batman and all just couldn't settle with her.The last issue of Batman INC had Talia saying"If I'm especially evil will I be your number one enemy?" she also made fun of capes,gadgets,traps, gimmicks etc she has also chosen Gotham.Now what does all this indicate? she's hurt emotionally and now she's finally putting her training,education and resources to heal those emotional scars.Taking away Gotham,making fun of the Batman/Joker dynamic indicates that.
Also you made a mistake here,Talia became a member of the Secret Society well after betraying Lex,she was not evil at that time.
I like this Talia,she has control and power that very few women in comics have.Even Deathstroke referred to her as my "my lady" or we can have a Talia that is very much a 2nd rate Bond Girl(Severine) who helps her lover and then gets kicked aside cause that exactly what happened in Tower of Babel and the Detective comics annual.
I don't think you want to open this particular can or worms with me, but alright.
Stories in which Talia was featured heavily (heavily meaning had significant speaking roles, purpose, or appearances:)
- Bane of the Demon, Legacy
- The Demon Laughs
- Birds of Prey (now in tpb 7 [Perfect Pitch] and 8 [Blood and Circuits]). Primarily in 31-35 (in which Dinah is dating Ra's), again in 47-49, and then later in five more issues in the later 80s and 90s.
- Parts of Tower of Babel, and then Detective Comics #750, in which she was heavily featured.
- Son of the Demon
- The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul (yes, I know Morrison had a hand in it, but she was not written as a heinous bitch)
- Red Hood: Lost Days
- Villains United
- Death and the Maidens
- Elseworld's Finest 1 and 2
- Black Lightning Year One (issues 3 and 4)
- Gotham City Sirens, 17, 18, and 19
- President Luthor Secret Files 0
Not to mention Silver Age Talia, in which she was involved in several meaningful stories. And I'm missing some from this list, too, that are more recent. Annuals and issues of Superman and so on.
Now we're going to actually talk.
It's ridiculous to accuse fans such as myself as being to blame for the "stagnation" of comics. This isn't pre-New52 versus New52. Morrison was writing Talia badly before the New52. And there's plenty about comics right now that I DO like, and have been actively reading. But not Morrison. So you can't make accusations like that when you don't know my standings with the rest of the industry. This is only about Talia.
Yes, I liked Death and the Maidens. I LOATHED the artwork, but the story itself was solid. Pivotal for Talia, actually. This is the point at which she "becomes evil," and Death and the Maidens occurred while Talia was still CEO at LexCorp. So no, I'm not mistaken. And I liked Nyssa, as a character. I would not at all call her a Hush clone. In her torturing of Talia, she makes her a surrogate for her own daughter, and her suffering under the Nazis is reflecting in her treatment of Talia. It's actually finely crafted and subtle, and you have to pay close attention to see it all weave together. You're also equating that entire nine issues to a single moment at the end. But throughout the arc, Talia confides in Nyssa and she's certainly not emotionless. What happens to her is horrible and psyche-shattering, but just because I love a character doesn't mean I automatically hate when bad things happen to them. It wasn't just the advent of Nyssa, but it changed Talia, too. She'd already broken from Ra's and, in most ways, Bruce, by that time. But this was most definitely Pre-Society and pre-Infinite Crisis (the beginning of the Villains United trade recaps Death and the Maidens) and it opened to doors for a more villainous Talia. Outrightly villainous? No. But more than she had been. It was a shift.
I personally like the Jason/Talia pairing in Lost Days, so that's not a point against it. Judd Winick wrote Talia well. We see her breaking away from Bruce sexually (in trysts with Nameless Minion and Jason at the end), but in a way that wasn't desperate. She's not standing around, watching the flower of her youth rot on the vine while Bruce dallies with other women. Jason is NOT Talia's son, no matter what. She hardly paid him mind when he was Robin (I can think of one Silver Age issue in which they teamed up) but even so, she never had regarded him or any other Robin as a son apart from her actual, biological son. There were maternal elements to their relationship when Jason hadn't been in the Lazarus Pit, yes. However:
- Talia’s first concern in hearing that Jason had died was Bruce’s emotional response. This is expected. However, when she’s vouching on Jason’s behalf to Ra’s, and Ra’s is so incredibly harsh to her (ranting how bringing Jason back to Bruce would not make him love her, etc), she still chooses to help Jason. She sees what he could be and refuses to accept him as nothing more than the brain-damaged boy everyone else sees.And, for some reason, when she strikes him, despite fighting back on every other occasion..Jason does not fight Talia.
- They bond on the cliff-side in that beautiful scene, when Talia can just say how she feels and thinks and worries for Bruce. Has she been able to do such a thing before this point? Ra’s certainly wouldn’t humor her. For once, she has someone to really talk to, even if he won’t talk back. Talia really finds her care for Jason here - and we get to see it, and see some of her more intimate thoughts.
- Look at her “letter” to Jason (Lost Days #1). “I had other reasons. Despite my search for the answers, you remain a mystery. You were dead, Jason. Murdered. Buried. And mourned. But you returned to this world. A miracle. And then you wandered into my view. Fate is commanding your life in a way that I can barely fathom. I judge what I have done as not so much intervening on fate’s behalf, but as stepping out of its way. You were meant for something, Jason. Only time will tell what that is. But you should know, more than any other reason - I have done this for love. And I hope that will guide you into what you will become.”
- What love is Talia referring to? The natural inclination is to say she’s still doing this for Bruce. And maybe she is. Perhaps it is for her lingering love for him. I wouldn’t go as far as to say she’s telling Jason she loves him. But love is her motivation, either way.
- Talia takes an absolutely monumental risk in putting Jason in the Lazarus Pit. She knows full well that Ra’s will see it as a betrayal, and it’s said that, if she were anyone else, he would have killed her. Ra’s implies a slow torture, referring to death as a blessing. It was a huge deal for Talia to revive Jason Todd. Ra’s was only going to send him away. He was going to be cared for and remain a brain-damaged mute. It’s not as if Ra’s was going to kill Jason - but Talia still saw the potential in Jason to outweigh the consequences.
To quote a Talia scholar of sorts,
She and Jason are quite alike and this title seems to subtly emphasize their similarities. They both have had problematic relationships with father figures (two of them, in Jason’s case), they are both emotionally hard because their upbringing requires them to be, they both feel that the Bat-family’s principles must be rejected, and they both, after having put their faith in Bruce, have found their faith unrewarded. She’s a strong, hot woman and he’s a strong, hot man. They actually make quite a good team.
In short, when Talia goes to bed with Jason, she isn’t fucking her adopted son. She isn’t fucking a man her father has approved for her. Most importantly, she isn’t fucking Bruce. Instead, she’s fucking a man to whom she feels she can relate, a man whom she feels understands her. In her discussion with Jason, ending with the repetition of her admonishment that he “cross the line” Bruce laid out for him, she, too, finds she must cross a line. We should note that (hooray for good art!) it’s she who pulls him in for their kiss, proving her active agency in what’s about to happen between them. We may all gasp over the fact that she’s (again! twice in this title!) going for a man who isn’t Bruce, but we should also appreciate that. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing more of her relationship with Jason and even the assassin in the future. In fact, I’m hoping for it.
As for the writing, I'm fairly certain it was a slip-up on the writer's part with the continuity (the arc did, after all, span several years), and the death Talia is referring to is Death and the Maidens (and that would explain Talia's rather weird behavior.) She wasn't with Ra's at all in the arc after she revives Jason, and she wasn't constantly with him. And during Hush, she WAS at LexCorp. But continuity is a weird thing - but that's still not really a point against Talia.
Morrison has written Talia and vengeful and bitter, and no, there has not been significant buildup. Even in the issue about her (Vol. 2, issue 2) we saw very little of her thoughts and motivations in a real, meaningful way. And he reinstated the damn RAPE that he once recanted. Morrison wrote this "date rape" element in in Batman & Son. Quote Morrison, though “For a long time, [DC] said [Son of the Demon] was out of continuity. Now it’s just kind of out of continuity. I didn’t actually read it before I started writing this. I messed up a lot of details, like Batman wasn’t drugged when he was having sex with Talia and it didn’t take place in the desert. I was relying on shaky memories. But now we have this new “Superboy punch” continuity [after Superboy Prime attacked the fabric of the universe during Infinite Crisis]. People still don’t realize how important that single punch was to cover everyone’s ass.”
And then we get to Batman Inc, and Talia has drugged Bruce for sex AGAIN. After this statement.
None of your point about Inc are leading me to see her as a "better" Talia. She's not even the same character. And this problem goes back to before the New52. It started with Grant Morrison, who is notorious for writing characters as vehicles for the plot that he wants, no matter what it does to their characterization, and for writing women and insultingly dimensionless. Ask hardcore Lois Lane fans how they felt about her portrayal in All Star Superman sometime. Quoting a Lois Lane fan from tumblr,
I see everyone is rightfully pissed off and frustrated with the way Grant Morrison continues to treat Talia in Batman Inc. Questioning when he became such a complete and utter asshole when it came to writing women….why he thinks it’s ok to disrespect and misunderstand a complex woman in such a way etc. Completely distorting continuity and in the process throwing a complex woman under the bus.
I agree with you.
But I got news for you….the fans of Lois Lane called this YEARS ago. After he did some really misogynist shit with her in All Star Superman and then everyone and their mother proclaimed it the greatest comic book ever written. Meanwhile, the people who loved Lois Lane were standing in the background like, “Uh…yeah. He really fucked up with Lois. Really bad. To the point that it’s insulting. Hello??”
Then, he started writing Action Comics and basically regulated the only other person in Action #1 besides Superman himself to being less important than Jimmy Olsen and several other MEN in the story. He took a role in the narrative that had BELONGED to a woman and basically wrote it out. Then, he literally gutted the Clark/Lois/Superman triangle—the entire backbone of every Superman origin story. Then he implied in an interview that “strong” women shouldn’t be married. And when Lois did show up on page (which is incredibly rare) he butchered her there too by making her out to have no motivation other than getting headlines and ignoring her own personal pursuit of justice that had been ingrained in the character since the 1930’s.
And again, the women who love Lois Lane were like, “Umm..guys….Morrison has a problem writing complex women. He does not GET them. He over simplifies them in a very insulting way and just doesn’t seem to care about treating them with value.” And again…people yelled back, “No…Morrison is amazing! He can do no wrong! Bow down to the Morrison god etc etc.”
And now, I see, he’s pulling the same shit again with Talia in Batman Inc. Writing her out of character to suit an agenda. Taking a woman who is VERY complex and writing her one note. And he doesn’t seem to give two shits.
And all I can say to you as a fan of Lois Lane is….I’m deeply sorry. I feel for you. I could have called this years ago. Morrison may have a huge fanbase and a huge following. But I wouldn’t trust him with a female character I liked if my life depended on it. PARTICULARLY if that female character has to interact with a MAN.
You're free to like what Talia you want to, but I'm also free to disagree with you, and, as someone who has been reading and collecting Talia comics as much as I'm able and investing myself in her character, to think that's is a horrible interpretation and, in fact, not even the same character.