First thing I want to clear up is that this is a review of the trade DC very recently reprinted that features all three books of “The Demon Trilogy”; Son of the Demon, Bride of the Demon, and Birth of the Demon. Don’t ask me why this collection is named after the third installment, but whatever.
First, I should talk about Son of The Demon. This is a “what if” type story (not really an Elseworlds, as it borrows so much from main canon) where Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul become allies and friends, and Bruce marries Talia. It’s really interesting to see where this path leads had Bruce actually taken it. The main strengths here are the characterizations and relationships between Batman, Ra’s, and Talia, and the artwork that dare I say is PERFECT for 80’s Batman. As soon as Batman appears for the first time in this story, I guarantee your jaw will drop. It’s beautiful. Batman and Ra’s have always been extremely interesting foes, but they make even more interesting friends as shown here, it feels great to see them get along and it feels completely natural. Two strong minds working together with a great deal of respect and understanding of one another. And Bruce being married is also awesome to see, his love with Talia changes him, and… I won’t spoil the rest. But married-Batman is awesome-Batman. However, the main plot that brings about this alliance is a fairly typical political-tyrant type threat, but it’s at least presented to us with good writing. But it’s not so much about that as it is about these characters. And the explanations for certain choices Batman makes aren’t spent much time developing, but you get the gist. He loves Talia. Son of the Demon is definitely one of the best Batman stories out there in my opinion, but its sequel on the other hand…
Bride of the Demon is a massive disappointment from start to finish and has no reason to exist beyond riding on the coat-tails of Son of the Demon’s success. Nothing about what made its predecessor so great is here, and in fact, the only thing that ties it to Son of the Demon is the existence of Batman, Talia, Ra’s, and one henchman we saw in the first book. Tons of characters appear here have zero bearing on the overall story and only serve to make you think “IS this canon? I sure hope not!”, like Tim Drake for example. He’s in here, but he’s not Robin yet. Yeah, I know. But there’s this scientist guy and his son (how the heck does this dude have brown hair and a white beard?!) who help serve the plot, but we have no reason to care about them. Zero. None. And Bruce and Talia have some sexual tension, but it goes nowhere and doesn’t even make reference to how they were once married. Ra’s’ plan however, is beyond stupid. I’d explain it in detail, but this review is spoiler-free, so I’ll just say this… “global warming” and “kidnap-marriage”. The artwork is an obvious throwback to Neal Adams, and the pencils have potential, but the lazy inks and the awful colors just ruin it and make it a book an eyesore. I had a hard time even making it to the ending and it was hard to even acknowledge it as having any connection to the vastly superior Son of the Demon.
Birth of the Demon, however, definitely redeems the trilogy. It’s written by Dennis O’Neil and has artwork by Norm Breyfogle, who are two of my all-time favorite Batman creators. First thing to bring up is the artwork. Norm Breyfogle’s art is always great, but this is stunning, as it’s not just inked and colored, it’s painted and it looks aboslutely marvellous. Now the premise of this story is that Ra’s is growing old, he needs a Lazarus Pit, but Batman keeps stopping his men from creating new pits and Ra’s and Talia are deadset on reviving him with a final pit they manage to create, and this is essentially the final showdown between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul. But most of it is actually about Ra’s’ origin story, and it’s very interesting and O’Neil’s storytelling skills are at the top of their game here. It feels very much like a dramatized biblical tale, but, well… it’s not, it’s a really awesome fictional comic. The ending is brilliant and definitely the perfect “what if” ending to Batman and Ra’s eternal conflict.
Overall, this is worth the buy, despite the fact the stories could easily be considered standalone stories rather than sequels in the same sense that Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis are sometimes considered part of the same saga. That’s the way I look at it, anyways. Also, at the back it says this book ties into Morrison’s “Batman and Son”, which is kinda true, but not really. The stories here take place in their own canon, but they’re not completely seperated from main contnuity. But between Son of the Demon and Birth of the Demon, this is definitely something Batman fans owe themselves to look into. Just… don’t even read Bride of the Demon if you do buy it. Trust me, you’re better off ignoring it in every sense of the word.