Mike W. Barr and Trevor Von Eeden are the creative team on Batman Annual 8, the first Batman annual in over 15 years, as well as the very first one to feature a new story.
The mysterious Messiah of the Crimson Sun uses his satellite technology to harness the Sun’s rays and wipe out an entire town, before taking to the airwaves and warning Gotham City that they will be his next target.
One man claims to have survived the devastation. He goes by the name of Seth, but Batman is suspicious right away, and indeed it turns out that he is working for the Messiah.
Alfred gets a small role in the story, and Robin a bit larger one, as Batman has him impersonate Seth and infiltrate the Messiah’s headquarters. The Messiah knows Seth is really Robin, and unmasks in front of him, cuing the reader the the Messiah is someone we already know.
Once Talia Al Ghul pops up in the tale, it’s obvious that the Messiah is Ra’s Al Ghul. And really, no other Batman villain tends to operate on this kind of scale. Batman and Talia head into space to confront her father. Talia remains on Batman’s side throughout this tale.
Ra’s gives a long explanation on how he survived his apparent death at the end of the Lazarus Affair, and found the Sun to be his new source of power and inspiration. While this is not the best Ra’s Al Ghul story ever, it is certainly way better than the Lazarus Affair, and Von Eeden’s art is great.
As usual, Ra’s appears to die at the end, although this time around Talia is actually pissed off at Batman about it.
While Talia returns the following year in the Detective Comics story that introduces Jason Todd as Robin, Ra’s Al Ghul does not appear again until Batman 400, the last pre-Crisis Batman story, in 1986.