Oh, Jesus effing Christ. R'as al Ghul? Really?
It's pretty clear that R'as isn't the mastermind. I can't exactly tell you why he isn't, but he isn't. His introduction here feels the same as the Riddler's, with Snyder and Tynion simply showing us that someone that we'd suspect to be the mastermind isn't, actually, the mastermind. The problem with R'as' role in this story is that it's connected to one of the more ludicrous turns of events in this series, namely Bruce's loss of control over Wayne Enterprises.
I haven't really talked about the fall of Wayne Enterprises here, since, usually, we have such bigger fish to fry. Of all the gimmicky moments in this series, it was definitely one of the more gimmicky ones. Snyder and Tynion try to explain it here, arguing that, yes, it was extraordinary, but that proves that only someone as crafty as R'as al Ghul could've done it. But, it really does defy belief that anyone, even R'as al Ghul, could do it. Wayne Enterprises is a publicly traded company; R'as couldn't just snatch up its constituent parts without someone noticing. It's not like Alfred runs the company from the cave while Bruce sleeps. They've got to have an accountant somewhere. But, it just further Snyder's central thesis, that Batman is actually a raging idiot, since the guy can't even keep control over his own company. Moreover, it's pretty clear that it's going to be ret-conned at some point. After all, Bruce depends on that money to be Batman, the same way that Tony Stark needs his money to be Iron Man. Sure, authors can spend a few issues exploring the idea of them disconnected from their wealth and rising to that challenge, but, ultimately, it's existentially necessary for their alter egos. Since it's clear that R'as isn't the mastermind, he's essentially been reduced to little more than a nefarious accountant at this point. I'm not really sure why we're supposed to consider him a serious threat. But, it looks like we'll spend at least next issue pretending.
Moreover, this issue just randomly dispatches the supernatural aspects of the series by explaining that Dr. Milo was merely a pawn of Blackfire. As a result, I'm still not really sure why we re-introduced this aspect of the story in issues #44 and #45, since it didn't further our understanding of the events that occurred under Arkham. It's not like we even get any real character development, since Luke just shrugs off Jim's apology for abandoning him under Arkham and Bruce makes a half-hearted comment about feeling bad about sending Luke to handle Arkham in the first place. I'm not really sure what the authors meant here.
Seven more issues. Only seven more issues.
** (two of five stars)