A little over a year ago we looked at BATMAN INC.: LEVIATHAN STRIKES prior to the release of the second volume of BATMAN, INC. by Grant Morrison and artist Chris Burnham; a series that launched over the Summer. In it we questioned not only whether this is the last we would be seeing of Talia, but also, why the she had been acting completely out of character when the previous series ended. Who was Talia, and, why had she changed so much?
Needless to say, unlike we predicted, this was not the death of Talia al Ghul: in fact, it was just the beginning. In his BATMAN, INC. series Grant Morrison completely changed Talia's character, setting seeds early on during his run on BATMAN that allowed her to change a full 180 degrees. She went from fighting alongside other female heroines The last eight issues of BATMAN, INC. have molded her into being one of the most vindictive, evil and hateful of Batman's rogues. Not only that, but it also defined the way the character viewed her son, Damian Wayne. So who is Talia? Is she really this hateful or is she a women possessed and fueled by the rage of being spurned by the "World's Greatest Detective"? If you haven't read BATMAN INC. #8, beware there be spoilers below!== TEASER ==
Over the years we have seen Talia, the daughter of a man who had made it his mission to defeat the "World's Greatest Detective," evolve. She has endured tremendous shifts in her character's identity, changing not only her motives from one extreme to another but also her end. She loved Batman and wanted him, and then hated him and wanted only to defeat him. She wanted to build a family with him, and then she wanted to destroy him. She wanted to break from her Father, and then she wanted to save his life. In the last two years of Batman comics alone, Talia has undergone all of these emotions and perspectives leaving many fans wondering if she the creators behind her story and character actually know who Talia is. If you read BATMAN, INC. #8 then you may have noticed that in this issue alone, Talia undergoes a huge range of emotions, and Morrison covers everything from a passionate hate and resentment for Batman, to feeling a moment of weakness overcome her -- even if only for a brief moment. Yet it is this one panel that really says the most of anything else we see in this issue, isn't it? It actually gives us a real look at Talia's identity and leads us to question whether or not beneath all that crazy, she actually has a heart.
One of the most revealing issues of this series was the second issue of BATMAN INC., which took a closer look at Talia's character and identified the certain things that made her tick. It was an issue that focused primarily on the character through her early years as the daughter of one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the DC Universe, Ra's al Ghul, and identified how his methods and motives shaped her from a young girl into adulthood. n this issue we saw that Talia was a young girl who wanted nothing more than to love her Father once. Following Ra's death and his dip into the Lazarus Pit, we caught a glimpse of a very young and distraught Talia, mourning her Fathers death only to be met with a backhanded slap that left her bloody and broken both physically and emotionally. This scene is a reflection of the way Ra's methods impacted her, and they are parallel to the way that Talia raises Damian. Talia was taught and groomed to be a supremely powerful and focused student of martial arts, war, and the arts; and Talia raises Damian in a very similar way. In her youth, Talia loves her Father. She admires him. In the second issue of this series there is a very telling scene depicting Talia as a young girl, drawing a picture of her Father while he stands further away, his eye locked on the horizon. In this scene and in that moment it is clear that these two characters were not connecting. She was a child yearning to be loved, adoring her Father unconditionally, and he wanted only to groom her for success, no matter how cold hearted it might seem. There is a parallel between this relationship and the relationship between Talia and Damian. The question remain, though, does she love him?
It is unclear, looking at the last eight issues of this series, whether it is love that Talia feels for Damian. Throughout this series she has used the character as a pawn in her own game, doing all she could to use him to bring Bruce closer into her trap. Yet in that final moment, on the last page of this issue, Talia comes full circle, doesn't she? She reverts to that tenderness she felt when she showed her own father affection as a little girl. She succumbed to that feeling of brokenness and emptiness that overwhelmed her and forced her to tear up. You could argue that Talia is not that cruel, but that this is all she has known. That as a child she was a mere pawn in her Father's game until she grew up and refused to be used any longer. That the training she forced her son to undergo was what she felt was necessary because it's all she knew, and it's what she had to endure. But that deep down, she is human and she is a mother and she does feel affection. Deep down, perhaps, that Talia we met in issue #2 as the young girl who knew how to love is still there. She has been stifled, but, there is still a glimmer of good inside this very complicated character.
What do you think of Talia al Ghul? Do you think there is some good in her left, or do you think she is just completely crazy? Do you feel that Talia loves Damian, or that the character was merely a pawn in her game?