“…We are all ruled by the dead. You more than most…”
One of Batman’s most formidable foes is dying. Not from violence or blood but from time. Old age has finally come to Ra’s Ah Ghul and without the Lazarus Pit to revive him, he will succumb to the power of death. Worse, his life’s mission, his eternal dream is coming to an end with no one to carry forward. The Detective has refused to become his heir and Talia his daughter, has abandoned him.
There was another, a woman centuries past who shared his life and his dream. But they have come to be bitter enemies. A dark deed done that has made her hatred of him immortal.
With no other options Ra’s Al Ghul bargains with the Batman, for access to a final Lazarus Pit. What he offers the Detective is a chance to speak once more with his slain parents. To hear from them a final time.
But the woman who hates Ra’s is out there and she sees what they are up to. She will not allow this to happen. Her name is Nyssa Raatko and she is the first daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul.
“…So I become just another casualty in your holy war? In Kiev they raped my daughters before my eyes! They tore the beards from the chins of my sons, executed them in ditches! Please father I’m begging you…save us! Don’t let us die here…please father…please…”
“…what I do Nyssa, I do for the greater good…”
And with that Ra’s abandon’s his daughter to the death camps. But Nyssa survives, though all her children are gone, she survives. In her heart she keeps a faith. To punish her father for all he has done to her. To take from him all that was taken from her. To take from Ra’s his daughter Talia.
Nyssa befriends then captures Talia. To break her Nyssa murders Talia, revives her in the Lazarus pit and then murders her again. Over and over again until Talia is broken and belongs to Nyssa. Thus she begins to take her vengeance on her father.
The Death and the Maidens storyline by Greg Rucka is one of the most original tales ever told in comic books. There is no world coming to an end. No bombs to stop. No cosmic doings and undoing’s. It is a tale of lost affection and a parent’s love twisted into the destinies of their children.
Nyssa Raatko rode with her father Ra’s in the centuries past, following on his crusade until the day she tires of the killing and seeks to live her own life. But she finds herself and her family taken by the Nazis in Germany and with a final plea to her father for aid falling on deaf ears, finds all she loves brutally taken from her.
But what Nyssa does not understand is that this was necessary to become the woman Ra’s needed her to be. The weapon of hate and logic to continue his war on humanity. In hating her father, Nyssa becomes the very thing he wanted her to be. Him. The heir. The demon head.
Batman goes through a similar journey as he takes the opportunity to speak with his parents and finds that they do not approve of the path he has taken. How his actions to fight crime in their name is not what they wanted for their son to be. To sacrifice his own life and name to follow his crusade. A conversation that leaves him shaken but even more resolved in his fight against the evils of Gotham.
Batman and his parents.
Nyssa and her father.
A son and a daughter whose lives are tied to the memory of their parents.
Nyssa: “A warning for you…steer clear of my affairs in the future detective. From this day forth we are enemies and I will not make my father’s mistakes where you are concerned. I will not fail him.”
Batman: “You already have.”