The Problems of Grant Morrison’s Talia Al Ghul
A quiet night. A man. A woman. A few drinks. The night Damian Wayne was conceived was a night that changed DC history. The youngest member of the Batfam, Damian is the son of Talia Al Ghul and Bruce Thomas Wayne, and is one of four likely candidates to inherit the throne of the League Of Assassins.
Talia’s relationship with Bruce is incredibly complicated. Talia’s father, Ra’s, wants his daughter to marry Bruce because he believes Batman to be the perfect future Demon’s Head. Talia loves Bruce for her own reasons, however- and Bruce has just as intense affections at various points in canon. Damian’s conception and birth are a direct result of the chemistry between the characters, and DC wanting to expand on that.
And then Grant Morrison got their grubby little hands on it.
See.. In Morrison’s telling, Talia and Bruce did not have sex to conceive Damian. No no, that’s not traumatizing enough for good old Grant. No, this galaxy brained mother fucker decided it would be a good idea to turn Talia Al Ghul into a godsdamned rapist.
That’s right. In Grant Morrison’s iteration, Talia roofied, and sexually assaulted Bruce in order to conceive a child.
To quote Morrison themself-
I will admit, however, that Talia in those stories dosed the Caped Crusader with something from her arsenal resembling some combination of MDMA and Viagra and doubtless some ingredients of her own devising. She can’t help being the Devil’s Daughter, after all!
Grant, darling- that’s rape.
Someone under the influence of drugs is not capable of consent. No matter how many times you say it was consentual in your mind, that is rape. This is no better than Rohypnol.
And to blame that on genetics? To say ‘she cannot help but being her father’s daughter?’ That is virulent levels of racist, tantamount to calling her a savage! Especially when you later have her kill the child ‘for being a failure!’
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Every time Morrison is given a Talia story to write, they make her toxic and even abusive towards Damian- even having her kill him at one point. Many comic fans have come forward calling Morrison’s portrayal of the Al Ghul family INCREDIBLY racist, and I’m inclined to agree.
See, Talia is Middle-Eastern and Chinese. These are two demographics that have been victim to a very toxic misogynoir (misogynistic racism) centered around being abusive mothers,terrorists, manipulative, greedy, and savage. And, most distressingly of all, Grant Morrison’s Talia fits a very specific racist trope- The Asian Baby Mama.
DC has had Racism and SA issues on it’s own, and a storied past of it as well. But Morrison has not helped- far from it, they made it a thousand times worse. It’s exhausting.
Talia Al Ghul is a fantastic character in my opinion, with a lot of beautiful potential. She’s intelligent, and a master tactician- and there are plenty of stories where she is used well by the writers. Her role as eldest child of the Demon’s Head, and her leadership of the all-female assassin elites within the League give the potential to craft masterful tales outside of her relationships to Bruce, Damian, or her father.
I want a Talia who isn’t nearly so burdened by the misogynoir of her writers.