DC’s three-legged crossover Shadow War kicked off on March 29, when Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke (or at least, someone dressed like him) took to the rooftops of Washington DC to put a bullet through the head for the reformed (or so he said) Ra’s Al Ghul. And yet, the deadliest marksman to come out of Shadow War might not be this assassin at all, but Cupid…
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Batman #122 (opens in new tab) features art by Howard Porter, writing by Joshua Williamson with art by Howard Porter, colors by Tomeu Morey, and letters by Clayton Cowles, and is the second chapter in the Shadow War saga, lovingly titled ‘Too Many #%^&$#@ Ninjas.’
The issue finds the League of Assassins’ war with Deathstroke’s family in full swing, with Batman and Robin caught in the crossfire. Already the battle is generating, shifting, and breaking alliances across Gotham City, the League’s hideout in Nepal, and beyond. By the end of the issue, Damian Wayne has teamed up with Wilson’s daughter Ravager, Deathstroke himself has abandoned Deathstroke Inc. in favor of hiding out with his clone son Respawn, and Batman is…
Sorry, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
At the beginning of Batman #122, the World’s Greatest Detective is doing what he does best near the site of the Al Ghul assassination. Joining him is Cameron Chase, director of the Department of Extranormal Operations and metahuman expert. Together, they review footage of Ra’s death and the wounding of his daughter Talia, wondering how the killer dressed as Deathstroke evaded their considerable security defenses. Then, another question arises. If this assassin was such a perfect shot, how did they not kill Talia? Batman decides the only way to get the answer is by asking Talia herself.
Flash forward to the Demon Palace in Nepal, former home of Ra’s Al Ghul and current headquarters of the League of Assassins. Talia is in the midst of slowly healing, having forsworn the healing/resurrecting Lazarus Pits, when Batman appears and beats the hell out of her ninja bodyguards. The two begin a heated debate: Batman accuses Talia of hiring Deathstroke to kill Ra’s in a bid to take over the League (not true), Talia accuses Batman of sending their son Robin out by himself to hunt down Deathstroke (also not true, but truer than Batman’s thing). Words turn to action when Talia goes for her sword and Batman prepares for the toughest physical challenge he’s faced in Nepal.
Except it doesn’t happen.
Talia’s healing is, like we said, slow and incredibly painful. When she goes to take the first swing of her sword, the pain overcomes her, dazing her and pitching her toward the floor. And just like that, Batman gets to her, propping her up against himself as her sword falls to the ground. Talia reaches up and peels back Batman’s cowl, staring into his eyes as the two embrace. The final page shows the two sharing a passionate kiss as the torches of the ancient chamber cast prophetic shadows around them.
Of course, this is not the first kiss shared by the master combatants. Talia’s affections for Batman, who she famously calls “beloved,” began all the way back in 1971, when her father Ra’s announced her love for the Caped Crusader in Batman #232 (opens in new tab) (and you thought your parents were weird around your crush). Since then, their romance has been adapted for the DC Animated Universe, the Arkham video games, and even the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.
However, their time as lovers in the main DC continuity culminated in the storyline Batman: Son of the Demon (opens in new tab), released in 1987 and created by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham. This one-shot comic saw Talia and Batman consummate their relationship and then split up, deciding that their paths were too dissimilar to continue. Almost twenty years later, writer Grant Morrison and artist Andy Kubert would revisit that fateful evening, revealing that Talia became pregnant after the encounter, eventually giving birth to a son she named Damian.
Since his birth, however, Damian Wayne’s parents have been anything but lovers, attempting several times to bring each other down while Damian sways between loyalties to each party. It was only in the most recent Robin comic (created by Gleb Melkinov and Joshua Williamson) that Damian put himself on good terms with his mother. Now, if the kiss she and Batman shared is true, it looks like the three might be together as the family they never quite were.
Of course, Batman’s near-marriage to Catwoman ended badly for him a couple of years back but the two remain as always romantically entangled. It’ll be interesting to see if Batman and Talia’s moment of passion is fleeting or if relationship troubles are going to become a part of the Dark Knight’s constant balancing act.
Batman #122 is on sale April 5. Shadow War continues when Deathstroke Inc. #8 (opens in new tab) (written by Williamson with art by Paolo Pantalena) goes on sale April 26th.
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