You would have to go far and wide to find a comic book character whose recent incarnation is as offensive an affront to the continuity and promise the character was capable of than Talia Al Ghul. You have the arrogance and hubris of comic book writer Grant Morrison to thank for that. Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ras Al Ghul, Leader of the League of Assassins, Mother to Damian Wayne (Robin) and Beloved of Batman. Now depicted as a rapist of her Beloved and murderer of her own child.
Talia first appeared in Detective Comics #411, May of 1971, as the victim of Dr. Darrk, then leader of the League of Assassins. Darrk attempts to kidnap Talia as he turns agaisnt Ras Al Ghul and is thwarted by the Batman. Talia kills Darrk at the end of the story, saving the Batman’s life. Something she would do often in the years to come. She next comes to light in “Daughter of the Demon”, Batman #232 in June of 1971. Ras enters the Batcave and reveals that he knows Batman’s true identity. He enlists Batman’s help in rescuing Talia and Dick Grayson who have been kidnapped. In the end we learn that it was all a test by Ras. He has decided that Bruce Wayne, Batman, who is often refered to as simply the Detective, has been chosen as Ras’ successor and husband for Talia. The Batman refuses to become successor to Ras but feelings do develop between Talia and her beloved. Feelings that end with a pregnancy. Talia, realizing that Batman will never be part of a criminal organization like the League of Assassins, knows that they will never be together and decides that the best thing is for her beloved to be free of her and her father. She fakes a miscarriage and disappears from Batman’s life.
In the years after, Talia grows until she is the eventual heir to her father’s criminal kingdom. But she never stops loving her beloved, Bruce Wayne the Batman and it seems, even though he moves on from Talia with dalliances with multiple woman, the Batman never really gets over his feelings for Talia as well. Until the day comes that Talia reveals that their child was born and raised by the League of Assassins. He is Damian Wayne who becomes the new Robin. This would seem to be a stirring tale of love lost and perhaps found again. A family for Batman for all he has lost. An heir to the mantle of the Bat. A woman to stand by his side as powerful as the Batman.
It would seem. Until Grant Morrison and his storyline that begins in Batman and Son where Damian is introduced to his father. Morrison admits that he relied on shaky memories of Son of the Demon to continue the story of Talia, Batman and Damain. In effect, not getting off his lazy ass and actually doing research. Now, the love affair between Batman and Talia that created Damian, becomes a night where Batman is drugged and raped by Talia Al Ghul, to get herself pregnant and become a superhero baby mama. Morrison also admits that his own childhood of a broken family and divorced parents influenced his writing of the origin of Damian and the relationship of Talia and the Batman. So it became therapy for Morrison and for the rest of us, a terrible and sickening portrayal of what could have been one of the more powerful and strong female characters in the DC Universe. All because someone has mommy issues. Think I’m being too harsh? In RIP and Final Crisis, Morrison has Talia implant Damian her son with a device that allows her or anyone she chooses to control his body. Then when Damian sides with Dick Grayson against her, she disowns him and bans him from the House of Ghul. But Morrison is not done. In Batman Incorporated, she wages war on the Batman and places a bounty on the head of Robin. Robin being of course, Damian Wayne, the son of Talia Al Ghul. Damian is murdered by the order of his mother and Talia herself is killed. Like I said, mommy issues.
But this is the comic book world and no one stays dead for very long. Robin, Damian is resurrected and Talia herself is back to life, with no memory of who she is.
Here’s hoping she is being given a better story line this time around. And I haven’t even touched on the pathetic portrayal of Talia in The Dark Knight Rises. So DC, as Talia would say, “…your move, beloved…”