One of the numerous DC adaptations not directly referenced in Crisis On Infinite Earths was Gotham. So this week I’ve made a custom of its Ra’s al Ghul! Except for the bits I changed because I didn’t like them. And the bits I made up because I couldn’t get sufficient reference for. So barely in the same ballpark as the show. Unfortunately this blog will not settle the epic controversy over the correct way to pronounce his name. I also mumble about The Batman movie that probably won’t have a themesong by The Edge.
This custom came together surprisingly easy. For one thing, I didn’t need to swap any body parts. Ra’s al Ghul was made from Diamond Select Toys’ Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Dr. Julian Bashir. Both characters were portrayed by Alexander Siddig. (“The Deadly Assassin” The Master could be a great base for the zombie al Ghul if you don’t mind it being monstrously out of scale.) I thought about this for months but didn’t make it because local shops hadn’t had DS9 toys in stock for years. I found a reasonably priced buy-it-now one on eBay but never got around to purchasing him. Then once I acquired a little extra money, I saw that it had finally sold. All the other Bashirs had skyrocketed in price. So I just shrugged & decided I didn’t really need a Ra’s. Months later, my sister & her husband recommended I check out Ray & Judy’s Book Stop. It inexplicably had Bashir for the same price as they one I had in my eBay watch list. So Ra’s went back on the menu!
Gotham got Ra’s al Ghul’s costume nearly perfect … for one scene spread over two episodes in the third season finale. It also appears in a Barbara Kean vision. He would’ve worn it for the original version of The Stabby Queen’s resurrection had the scene not been mysteriously reshot. (It’s possible these are separate costumes as the metallic embroidery on his jacket appears wider than just the collar in the hallucination. Gotham is the kind of show that would go the extra mile on costumery no matter how scant the screentime.) I don’t know why they didn’t use it more often.
First I resculpted his hair. Ra’s’s hair got more extreme in season four, but it was never quite the quiff he’s known for. It was important to give him his iconic beardlets, which some mistake for a Fu Manchu moustache. (Dr. Fu Manchu is never described as having one in the novels.) The hair atop on his noggin now comes to two corresponding points so he looks like a satyr. (
Malcolm Arthur Merlyn has similar hair, so is this just League of Assassins fashion?) Beck wrote “Devil’s Haircut” about Ra’s al Ghul.
His Starfleet badge was sanded off & the ribbed panels filled in. I made his shoulders a bit pointier as well. His tunic was made by cutting off part of a shirtsleeve discarded by my father. I’m proud I didn’t superglue his waist together! When I gave it a black basecoat, it resembled the black Nehru he wears for much of season four. That look is dull, so I specifically didn’t take an in-progress pic of it. The edging of his tunic (kurta?) is made from vintage French Historex tape just like Professor Pyg’s apron straps. The white strips on black evoked Silver Age Vandal Savage, but once again I didn’t photograph it because that’s the wrong immortal. (Do you think they have tailors, or have they learned how to make their own clothes through the centuries?)
His cape was cut from that shirt cuff too. (I almost bought a General Grievous cape but it would’ve cost more than Bashir. So I chose frugality.) Now I can add capes to my repertoire of tiny replicas. The braiding was snipped off an old dishrag. Its brooches were parts from a Mercedes model. Let’s just agree the real deal has a much nicer damask. It’s more colorful than a simple tiger pelt, which made painting it a puzzle. His amazing technicolor dream-cape is very Pimp Daddy Destro. (Destro owns a mink ranch. Knowing is half the battle!) The cape on Gotham had a simple collar, but is it really The Demon’s Head if he doesn’t have a Dracula collar? The various paints, glues, & fixatives made it hang stiffer than intended, but now it has dramatic flair!
Ra’s tells pulls a jian out of his cape, although I typically associate him with scimitars. (Perhaps I’ll make him one later.) Also like Speedy’s sword, the blade is another piece of brass. The hilt is two pieces of a military automobile model kit. The handle was hewn from a bamboo chopstick with a sculpted pommel.
Like the rest of Gotham’s rogues (Having Gotham City be a supervillain factory years in advance actually makes Batman more responsible.), Siddig portrays al Ghul more jovial than expected. He’s really weary of leading the League of Shadows & wants to retire into death. Much like Alexander the Great, Ra’s dying (twice) without leaving a will was his greatest mistake.
Sometimes it looks like Ra’s & the Riddler share a stylist, as on BTAS. Kudos to Gotham for going with an elegant design drawing upon Middle Eastern flavor that’s still distinct without the cape. The colors & patterns may be off on mine, but you try finding reference pictures in normal lighting. I used a series of different greens for texture. His coloration evokes the Lazaus Pit or mildew from his accumulated centuries?
DC Direct made a shirtless al Ghul for Hush yet never made a corresponding shirtless Batman to recreate their seminal duel in Batman #244. (244 is also the issue number of Jubilee’s Uncanny X-Men debut.) That would’ve been a great two pack back when they made DC Icons. We’ll have to settle for Kenner’s nipleless neon Fist Fury Batman until this oversight is corrected. (Young me skipped that edition for being too goofy whereas present me is kicking himself.)
Ra’s is usually one of the more honorable Batman rogues, although they’ve been trying to assassinate his character. It’s not enough that he’s a mass murderer fond of non-racial culling of humanity (He should pool resources with Poison Ivy & Ocean Master.), they want this devoted family man to be a bad dad too. Death & the Maidens introduced Nyssa al Ghul-Raatko. She’s vengeful against him for refusing to rescue her Jewish husband & kids from The Holocaust, even though family is the most important thing to him. Nyssa was reenvisoned as a lesbian on Arrow, wherein he forced her into a marriage with Green Arrow. (Why did Gotham get the best Ra’s al Ghul, but Arrow get the best al Ghul daughters?) On Gotham, he caddishly revokes his promises to Barbara Kean. (This is the one continuity where you can honestly say Batgirl is the biological daughter of Jim Gordon & Ra’s al Ghul.) So Stabby Babs slew him with a tiny Batman!
Like other nigh-immortal villains, Ra’s has the weakness of being unable to defeat his archnemesis despite numerous lifetimes worth of experience. In each adaptation, Ra’s blows his cover by popping up out of nowhere & assuming Batman will agree to carry on his legacy. He calls Batman “Detective” ironically since he removed most of the guesswork for him.
The most egregious bit was in Batman Begins. When he finds out that “Ra’s al Ghul” has being supplying Scarecrow with exotic blue roses to mass produce fear gas, Batman does not use his vaunted detective skills to surmise that this must be the only other survivor of his fiery massacre, Henri Ducard, since Lazarus Pits aren’t even hinted at in this universe. Ducard actually has to show up at his birthday party to tell him so. That’s Occam’s Razor 101! Ken Watanabe’s Ra’s al Ghul doesn’t get fleshed out aside from insultingly being a one note decoy for a white guy. I will take any opportunity to trashtalk Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
Alas Gotham cannot claim to have the kookiest portrayal of Ra’s. That dubious honor goes to Batman: Odyssey, written & illustrated by his co-creator, Neal Adams. Its sequel, Batman vs. Ra’s Al Ghul, may be even more guano mad!
Batman is made of foresight & paranoia. Robert Pattinson got the Bruce Wayne role through his public denial of clown rights. Feel free to attribute this recasting to COIE! Always remember Batman is The 1%. Batman’s kink is hypocrisy, but he’s a generous friend.
Zoe Kravits will play Catwoman again, this time in live action. Morena Baccarin, Aubrey Plaza, & Liz Gillies officially lost. (Nancy
Druid’s Drew’s Stevie Lynn Jones still has a shot at Zatanna while Justice League Dark remains trapped in Development Hell.) Do you think this time they’ll let Selina Kyle wear a cat mask & call herself Catwoman? Catwoman adaptations reveal directors’ kinks. Anybody know if Matt Reeves is a Cats fan?
Let Jason Alexander play Penguin! Never mind, they picked Bullseye instead. (He took the role to get an action figure made of himself to play with but they only produced a Chibi wind-up.) Colin Farrell seems like he’d be better suited to Two-Face though. Andy Serkis will mocap Alfred, despite seeming like a better Oswald Cobblepot. He’d be a good pick to bring Clayface to life via the magic of claymation too. I know many people hated Affleck, but I thought we were all cool with Jeremy Irons as Pennyworth?
Justice League 3000 Batman looks like he raided Deadpool’s closet.
I also have more than seven Riddlers. Phew!
Although he deleted his original tweet, Lilly Singh got the Joker to acknowledge his bloodfeud with Archie on TV.
Joker is Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, based on “The Opera”episode of Seinfeld. To compete, Marvel Studios will make an Obnoxio movie.
Killer Croc has a skin condition that makes his more durable. The pants are for chills since he didn’t grow a fur coat. He should move someplace warm so he can commit crimes naked. Let him be Florida Man!
KGBeast can beat you with one hand tied behind his back.