Death and the Maidens

Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: Klaus Janson
Titan Books
RRP 16.99
ISBN 1 84023 951 4
Available 24 September 2004

He's lived hundreds of years but he's not immortal. The eco-terrorist knows his days are numbered, his life's work far from complete. Time and again the Dark Knight has thwarted him. But now, a dying Ra's al Ghul has no choice but to beg Batman, his greatest nemesis, for help. In exchange, he offers the Dark Knight the opportunity of a lifetime - the chance to speak with his dead parents. But that ability comes with a price, and what Batman's parents have to say to him will profoundly affect both the man and the hero...

Death and the Maidens is a good solid romp through the Batman universe. Author, Greg Rucka, delves into the caped crusader's past and asks what would Bruce's parents think of how he turned out if they could see him from the spirit world? The answer is not what Bruce would have hoped for. But, is his meeting with his parents a clever trick, an hallucination, or is it for real? And does it really matter? Has he wasted his life chasing crime? And now that he no longer feels any emotion regarding his parents murder, is it time to hang up the mantle of the bat?

Klaus Janson's artwork beautifully compliments Rucka's script. Janson's job is not an easy one, as the story shoots forwards and backwards in time (almost on a page by page basis on occasion). Being able to differentiate between each time period is essential if you want to stop the reader getting lost - and Janson manages to do this without drawing attention to the fact too much.

It doesn't matter if you are not familiar with Ra's al Ghul and Batman's past history, nor the fact that Batman and Ghul's daughter, Talia, had a previous relationship. In fact even if you come to this collection knowing nothing about Batman, you will still go away having enjoyed this tale as much as a true Bat fanatics.

A wonderfully told tale.

Nick Smithson

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