Given Grant Morrison's great fresh-classic take on Batman in Batman and Son, I expected great things from the Bat-family crossover Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul. Instead, what we have here is a fairly bland, gigantically decompressed story with a lot of punching and kicking, but not much to make it very remarkable.
I think few believed, when Greg Rucka killed off Ra's al Ghul in the riveting Batman: Death and the Maidens (if you haven't read it, run out and get a copy), that DC wouldn't bring the villain back one of these days. And given both Ra's appearance in Batman Begins and Rucka's excellent use of Ra's in Death, I've been eager to see Ra's next appearance.
But Resurrection disappointingly glosses completely over Ra's rebirth scene, and there seems to be some confusion between the various writers from the prologue to the story as to the exact science of Ra's return (and they ignore, completely Devin Grayson's brilliant set up of a Lazarus Pit in the Batcave in Batman/Ra's al Ghul: Year One). Moreover, Ra's "evil goals" are not much more than immortality, again, when something with a bit more mystery might've differentiated this story from most other Ra's al Ghul tales.
One intention of Infinite Crisis was to rid the DC Universe of the angsty Batman (at least, more angsty than normal) who betrayed and belittled his Bat-family at every turn. The result, however, is to bring us a Batman crossover that's all plot and no character development. Batman learns that Ra's has come back to life (an event that, undramatically, seems to surprise no one in the comic), Batman goes to confront Ra's, Batman and Ra's team up to fight a third enemy, and then Batman and Ra's fight one another. The internal Bat-conflict in Batman: Fugitive and Batman: War Games might've felt tired after a while, but at least it gave the crossovers a subtext beyond just fighting the villains.
There is, you might argue, a "character-based" subplot here involving Robin being tempted by Ra's to use the Lazarus Pit to resurrect his parents, Spoiler, Superboy, and others. Except, as Nightwing himself points out, Ra's offer makes no sense in terms of how the Lazarus Pit has been explained in comic book science (the bodies are too old, the Pit waters aren't portable, etc.) -- not to mention that no reader really believes Robin's going to make the obviously-wrong choice and join forces with Batman's enemy. The subplot deals with Robin's character, sure, but it's essentially two-issue-long filler that darts away from the real Batman/Ra's action in order to involve the Nightwing and Robin titles, and it makes the story unnecessarily bloated.
Finally, if I can add just one more insult to injury, Morrison's Damian character suffers greatly, writing-wise, in this story. As written by Morrison, Batman's erstwhile son walks the fine line between attention-starved child and deadly killer; as written by Keith Champagne, Fabian Nicieza and others, Damian comes off as a whiny brat, more Jar-Jar Binks than Batman's son. On the other hand, there's a bunch of instances here of Alfred playing action hero (taking on a crowd of ninjas, no less!) so I guess there's something here for everyone.
(To be fair, of sorts, Pop Matter's Shawn O'Rourke felt equally underwhelmed.)
[Contains full covers, short biographies]
Yeah, so Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul didn't quite do it for me. Good thing there's some Justice Society right around the corner. Join us next time!