The following article contains spoilers from Shadow War Zone #1, on sale now at DC Comics.
Though she’s the daughter of classic Batman nemesis Ra’s al Ghul and the mother of his son Damian Wayne, occasional villain Talia al Ghul’s past is shrouded in mystery. Her upbringing under her father made her the woman she is today, but much of her past is still relatively unknown. New context may have been added to explain his treatment by his father, however, in the “Inner Demon” story which appears in Shadow War Zone #1 (by Nadia Shammas, Sweeney Boo and Becca Carey). It turns out that Ra’s may have made a deal with the devil to ensure Talia’s survival early in her life.
A look into Talia’s childhood featured her first encounter with Mother Soul, who informed her granddaughter of her first days of life. Talia was born weak and died slowly. Ra’s, in a desperate attempt to save his daughter, used the Lazarus Pit to give her the strength she needed to survive. In doing so, the story strongly implies that Ra formed a bond between Talia and the demon that lived in the pit. This explains much of his behavior towards her, and possibly even his own actions over the past few years.
During Damian Wayne’s participation in the Lazarus Tournament, it was revealed that a literal demon existed in the Lazarus pits and had some sort of mystical connection to the al Ghul family. This link lives within Mother Soul, afflicts Ra’s, seems to manifest in Damian, and now has a confirmed connection to Talia. Mother Soul’s claims that power has a price suggest that Talia’s life was not saved for charity. The glint in her eyes is proof that she now had a connection to the pit and what was hiding there.
Typically, users of the Lazarus Pit emerge crazed and violent, but healthy. Talia was just a baby at the time and doesn’t seem to have suffered from superficial mental complications. However, there is evidence to suggest that the effects of pit exposure may be gradual rather than instantaneous.
The way Mother Soul spoke of Talia implied that a toll would be exacted at some point in her life. It was precisely for this reason that Ra’s harbored her, treating her as if she were made of glass. This may not have just been driven by fear for her safety, but also fear for what she might become. Talia has certainly become more evil over time, perhaps not of her own volition, but due to the outside influence of others.
When Talia visited Mother Soul, she found the Lazarus Pit which saved her life. While looking at him, the demon appeared under his surface and tried to grab him. Mother Soul didn’t seem surprised by this, but the moment could have been more important than anyone thought. The demon took countless deaths to physically reform, but in Talia’s presence, it manifested enough to try and catch her.
All of this suggests that the demon will eventually try to claim Talia for himself. What he plans to do with her is unknown, but even Ra seems to fear the possibilities. Although his intentions were noble when he tried to save her, Ra’s al Ghul may have inadvertently done more harm than help to the very soul of his beloved daughter.
Batman and Talia al Ghul are DC Comics’ most tragic (and twisted) romance