Batman: Tales Of The Demon
story by Dennis O’Neil art by Neal Adams, Irv Novick and others
DC Comics
ISBN-13: 978-1401299439
$49.99 (Hardcover, less at Amazon)

This new collection (also available in softcover) brings together all the key 1970s stories of Batman and his major foe, Ra’s Al Ghul. Aside from the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers run on Detective Comics, these are my favorite Batman stories of all time.

Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams managed to rehabilitate Batman from the campy perceptions of the 1960s TV show and return him to his dark, pulp roots as an avenger of the night. Ra’s Al Ghul was a newly-created villain who, for the first time, was Batman’s match in terms of intelligence and personal integrity.

As the PR blurb explains…

Batman scales the side of the Statue of Freedom for a secret meeting with an informant inside the torch. During the meeting the informant is assassinated, leaving Batman with his final words instructing him to find a person called Darkk on the Soom Express. Finding and confronting Darkk Batman is assaulted, leaving him unconscious, and finds himself in a dungeon unmasked. There he meets the Daughter of the Demon, Talia who jump-starts his journey in finding the League of Assassins and it’s founder, Ra’s al Ghul.

This volume collects the earliest Ra’s al Ghul stories written by Dennis O’Neil and illustrated by artists Neal Adams, Michael Golden, Irv Novick, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano.

Collects Detective Comics #411, #485, #489-490, Batman #232, #235, #240, #242-244 and DC Special Series #15.

These stories are near the peak of comic book craftsmanship, with brisk, well-thought-out storytelling and excellent art. In addition to Adams, Dick Giordano, Bob Brown and Irv Novick we get to see early work by Don Newton, and Michael Golden.

This is the Batman I grew up reading, and it will be a revelation to anyone who’s only read the post-Frank MIller psychobabble Batman where it takes seventy-five issues to tell a story that O’Neil tells better in 22 pages. There’s a reason all the best Batman movies are based on stories that DC published in the 1970s.

These are, seriously, some of the best, most intelligent Batman stories ever told, and any fan of great superhero comics would love to add this to their collection.