Adams revisits his "Moriarty" to Batman's "Sherlock" in the entertaining "Batman vs Ra's al Ghul #1"
Writer/Artist/Colorist/Cover: Neal Adams, Letters: Clem Robins.
Cover art by Neal Adams
In this six-issue miniseries, Neal Adams attempts to recreate some of the mystique of Ra’s al Ghul, a character he co-created with Denny O’Neil in Batman stories back in 1971, starting with recreating the look and feel of the cover of issue #244, down to the color palette, sunset, vintage logo treatment, and a dead Batman on the ground.
"Batman #244" (1971) cover art by Neal Adams
Ra’s al Ghul has been hired by Commissioner Gordon as a security consultant to help protect Gotham from terrorists intent on creating a nuclear incident. Batman is of course incredulous, and cannot believe Gordon would trust al Ghul. As the interior scene shows, Adams’ Batman is not O’Neil’s stoic detective, but is a yeller, prone to dramatically losing his temper.
As a writer, Adams loves making his stories a mash-up of characters he had a hand in creating or making popular (see: Batman: Odyssey and his recent Deadman miniseries), and this Batman story is no exception. Deadman himself co-stars, using his supernatural ability to possess the bodies of others to help Batman and communicate with him.
Like many comic artists, Adams’ art style has gotten progressively rawer and rougher over the decades. This is not the tight and clean art of “classic” Adams, but I appreciated that it is tighter and cleaner than most of his recent work. I was also pleased to see his coloring has become less heavy-handed; it is much less saturated and muddy than it has been in the past. One thing that hasn’t changed is Adams’ feel for drama, emotion, interesting camera angles, and well-choreographed action; his scenes are like movie storyboards.
Interior art by Neal Adams
Familiar Neal Adams tropes appear: wild-eyed mad scientists with wild, wispy hair; cyborg creatures with simian mouths and huge lips, as well as Adams’ quirky sense of humor and dialogue.
Adams fans will love his return to Batman and Ra’s al Ghul, and I hope that non-Adams fans will be entertained as well. Adams is a living legend, still prolific and his work is still exciting and in-demand even in his late seventies.
Batman vs Ra’s al Ghul #1 is on sale September 4, 2019.
Batman: Odyssey (2011)
Batman Vol 1, #232, 244