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Ra’s al Ghul sits in lotus position in a jungle. He’s wearing a lose white shirt, loose green pants, and has a full beard, with his waist-length hair tied back in a flowing braid in Robin #4 (2021). Image: Joshua Williamson, Jorge Corona/DC Comics

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Ra’s al Ghul has become the DC universe’s hottest grandpa

Denny O’Neil would approve

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

The last time DC readers saw Ra’s al Ghul, he’d been handed a big defeat — and not even by Batman, but by the Outsiders, Batman’s handpicked team of superheroes who need to get their shit together. Meanwhile, Ra’s daughter had her own secret society snatched out from under her by a D-list hero turned villain, and his grandson is still refusing to embrace his family’s dark destiny in favor of being Batman’s sidekick.

So it makes sense to me that Ra’s would be doing some soul searching. I wasn’t expecting him to do it dressed like a Yoga Teacher Who Fucks.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)

Robin #4

Ra’s al Ghul gestures at the milky way above his remote island home as he explains to Damian Wayne/Robin that humanity’s pollution of the skies is one of the reason he seeks to cull the population in Robin #4 (2021). Image: Joshua Williamson, Jorge Corona/DC Comics

Throw on a few more necklaces and a leather wrist cuff and I’m sure I’ve seen this guy selling exorbitantly expensive Boho home decor out of a New York gallery. Also: Wait, are MCU Thanos and Ra’s al Ghul ... kind of the same character?

Superman: Son of Kal-El #1

Jon Kent/Superman easily catches the kick of the ninja attacking him and holds him in mid-air by his ankle. “This hardly seems like a fair fight,” the ninja says. “Ninjas are supposed to be silent,” Jon replies, “I shouldn’t hear you complain” in Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 (2021). Image: Tom Taylor, John Timms/DC Comics

Jon Kent, son of Superman and Lois Lane, is filling his dad’s shoes as Earth’s protector now, and just like his dad, he’s going to his goth best friend for advice. Which means I got treated to one of my favorite Superfamily-interacting-with-Batfamily tropes: When the Super-person just hangs out while the Bat-person fights a million regular dudes because they know their Bat-person has it all well in hand and the two of them just have a calm conversation while being pelted by ninjas.

Wonder Woman #776

Squirrel god Ratatoskr bawls petulantly after being transformed into a young human boy. “Settle down,” Wonder Woman tells him, “YOu’re just a boy. “Nooooo!,” he wails, “I’m hideous!” in Wonder Woman #776 (2021). Image: Michael W. Conrad, Becky Cloonan, Jill Thompson/DC Comics

This week’s Wonder Woman takes place entirely within the realm of Faerie, and is gorgeously illustrated by guest artist and veteran Wonder Woman talent Jill Thompson.

I would also be upset if I was a millennia-old squirrel god of gossip and was transformed into a small human boy.

Eternals #6

The Eternal Phastos explains his dark discovery to the shocked reactions of the other Eternals: The secret cost of their cycle of resurrection is that every time one of them comes back, a human life is taken as fuel. In Eternals #6 (2021). Image: Kieron Gillen, Esad Ribić/Marvel Comics

Several great Marvel series wrapped up their first, only, or final arcs this week, starting with Eternals, which finished its first arc with a very interesting and extremely Kieron Gillen-y reveal. The Eternals’ just found out that their infinite resurrection comes at the cost of a random human life extinguished every time they come back from the dead. Very serious stuff for a group cosmically programmed with the need to protect humanity.

Cable #12

Older Cable warns his younger self not to ask whether things turn out ok. “You want good outcomes?” he says, “Fight for them.” in Cable #12 (2021). Image: Gerry Duggan, Phil Noto/Marvel Comics

Cable also came to an end this week, punctuating its close by sending Teen Cable back to the future so he can live out Cable’s original timeline, and bringing adult Cable into Krakoa’s present. It’s been a great miniseries that really gave Teen Cable the time and space to come into his own as a character and despite having to “get rid” of him at the end, it sticks that landing like anything.

Beta Ray Bill #5

Beta Ray Bill draws a massive flaming sword from its stony platform with a FWOOSH in Beta Ray Bill #5 (2021). Image: Daniel Warren Johnson/Marvel Comics

Also TRAGICALLY coming to a close this week is Daniel Warren Johnson’s Beta Ray Bill. I will spoil nothing about the ending but dudes. My dudes. This book ruled.

Wonder Woman Black & Gold #2

“You couldn’t have turned him into something more dignified?” Wonder Woman exclaims as she picks up an orb containing a guinea pig. “Oh, I don’t know.” replies Circe, “Guinea pigs have a quiet dignity.” in Wonder Woman Black & Gold #2 (2021). Image: Rachel Smythe/DC Comics

Which one of Diana’s superhero buddies did Circe turn into a guinea pig in a magical hamster ball? You’ll have to read this short comic in Wonder Woman Black & Gold by Rachel Smythe to find out.

DC is leaning into anthologies this year, and it’s a direction I like for a lot of reasons — usually the first one I bring up is that anthologies are a great way for publishers to test out new talent. But this is one where it’s actually the reverse: Smythe’s runaway WebToon hit Lore Olympus is arguably one of the biggest comics phenomenons out there right now.

The other side of anthologies is that they can attract experienced creators with very different audiences from DC’s usual readers precisely by offering smaller projects to work on. And what a perfect match of Lore Olympus and the DCU’s own Greek Mythology Soap Opera Superhero.


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