Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Chapter 8
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Klaus Janson
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Colored by: Steve Buccellato
Assistant Editor: Nachie Castro
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Death and the Maidens is one of the best Batman mini-series I have ever read! Greg Rucka has unfurled a character-centric storyline that has moved to more locales than a James Bond film, as well as containing more jumps back and forth through time than the old Highlander: The Series. The story is a grand tapestry involving Batman, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia, and Ra’s other daughter, and a new Rucka creation, Nyssa. Character, setting, and dramaâ€¦Death and the Maidens is brimming with each!
While this has been a stirring Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul storyline, the character we’ve really been following is Nyssa. She blames her father for the death of her loved ones during World War II, and she’s been slowly unleashing her plan of revenge against her father. Last month, Ra’s finally was able to indulge in one of his Lazarus Pits again to stave off his fast approaching death. The young and virile al Ghul is on hand in the present once again, but he may not be for long. Rucka brings us to Saudi Arabia this month, and the major confrontation we’ve all been waiting for. A confrontation that features the four principal players in this drama, and the lasting consequences that conflict will bring.
I mentioned in my review of issue #4 that the book had â€œa cinematic flavor,â€ which is one of the key reasons that I’ve so enjoyed this series. The story seemed to hit a slow point for a couple of issues, but Rucka’s really back on stride with this particular issue. Rucka packs a great many memorable moments into this issue and leaves us at the precipice of the story on the closing page.
Rucka excels at characterization. His Batman is true to form as was the case with his run Detective Comics. He infuses Ra’s al Ghul with the fanatical belief in what he’s doing. Nyssa proves to be lynchpin of the series; thus all the moments building her character up through the series pay off beautifully. Rucka even has time to add a nice moment with Superman’s brief involvement in the tale.
In issue #7, Nyssa’s plan to kill Superman with Kryptonite plundered from the Batcave was revealed. This month, Nyssa’s plan falls apart as we learn that Superman and Batman are working together to resolve this conflict with finality. Rucka adds in one final flashback sequence to an earlier meeting between Ra’s and Nyssa. Now it becomes clear that through all of Nyssa’s machinations, it was Ra’s that has been weaving his own web, to bring about the changes that he wished.
Klaus Janson’s artwork has grown on me as Death and the Maidens has progressed. The layouts work perfectly to convey the cinematic quality of Rucka’s script. Janson’s females don’t always look woman-like, but he nails Ra’s al Ghul perfectly. Overall his work is more liney than my usual taste, but it still communicates Rucka’s story well enough.
All told, this was a strong pen-ultimate chapter for Death and the Maidens. Rucka’s got me caught up in his tale of Batman/Ra’s/Nyssa, I just wish a conclusion was coming sooner rather than later. Issue #8 was approximately one month late, and now it appears that the final part won’t ship for nearly two months. The worst part of recent mini-series like Astro City: Local Heroes, Arrowsmith, JLA/Avengers and of course Death and the Maidens has been their irregular shipping schedules. While it’s not a big deal with a book like Astro City, when there’s a continuing story from month-to-month, you can miss out on some of the smaller themes that the writer is conveying if you don’t go back and reread previous installments. This is part of the reason books like this tend to read better in a trade paperback. TPB or individual issues, this is a magnificent Batman story!