Geo-Force is the real killer of Ras al Ghul in Shadow War

We’ve known since the beginning of the Batman-Robin-Deathstroke Inc. ‘Shadow War’ crossover that Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke didn’t really kill Ra’s ah Ghul – it was just a fake Deathstroke intentionally using an old school costume and moniker to throw off the scent of their actual identity.

But now we know who was really behind the very public assassination, and it’s a doozy for old-school DC fans…

In May 24’s Robin #14 (opens in new tab), written by Joshua Williamson with pencils by Roger Cruz, inks by Norm Rapmund, colors by Luis Guerrero, and letters by Troy Peteri, the fake Deathstroke is revealed to be none other than Geo-Force, AKA Prince Brion Markov of Markovia. He gives Batman a choice: either hand over Ra’s daughter and Damian’s mother Talia to die, or they all die.

Geo-Force as the real killer of Ra's ah Ghul in Robin #14

Geo-Force as the real killer of Ra’s ah Ghul in Robin #14 (Image credit: DC)

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Geo-Force has a long history with Batman and Deathstroke. As a former member of Batman’s personal team the Outsiders, Geo-Force was once a close ally of the Dark Knight. During the course of a team-up between the Outsiders and the Teen Titans, Geo-Force was reunited with his sister Terra, who became a member of the Titans in the landmark story ‘The Judas Contract’ (#8 on Newsarama’s list of the best DC stories of all time.)

However, Terra was secretly a spy working for Deathstroke to infiltrate the Titans, resulting in a climactic battle between Deathstroke and the Titans in which Terra was killed. Geo-Force learned of Terra’s death and her association with Deathstroke from Batman, and the betrayal rocked him to his core. 

In ‘Shadow War,’ Geo-Force seems less concerned with Deathstroke’s actions than he is with Talia’s, likely because hers are much fresher. At the beginning of the crossover, he’s seen telling the media that he looks forward to the Ghuls’ day in court, when they’ll ideally be forced to pay for what Leviathan – a splinter group of the League of Assassins led by Talia – did to his home country. The criminal organization bought Markovia to use as a base of operations, effectively ripping it out of the hands of its people.

Geo-Force’s story continues in May 31’s Shadow War Omega #1, and here are a few preview pages: 

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(Image credit: DC)

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(Image credit: DC)

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(Image credit: DC)

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(Image credit: DC)

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And Geo-Force isn’t the only one devastated by Talia’s actions. In Robin #14, Damian learns that his mother is responsible for the death of Respawn, who was created using her and Deathstroke’s genetic material. He’s given this information by Ravager, who’s working with her father, much to Damian’s disgust. But then, learning about Talia’s actions seems to really throw him for a loop.

Talia kills Deathstroke in Robin #14

Talia kills Deathstroke in Robin #14 (Image credit: DC)

In the same issue, Talia kills the real Deathstroke to avenge her father, Ra’s. It’s unlikely the death is going to stick, however, because Deathstroke is a major antagonist in the upcoming Dark Crisis event, which takes place further in the immediate future of the DCU than the current Robin ongoing. It’s unlikely that Geo-Force-as-Deathstroke is the antagonist there, so Deathstroke either isn’t as dead as he seems or perhaps he’s taken to the Lazarus Pits following Talia’s assassination of him.

And with the Lazarus Pits never far away from an ah Ghul storyline, the long-term effects of the full ‘Shadow War’ body count including Slade, Ra’s, and Respawn have to be taken with a grain of salt. 

Either way, Talia may be a target following her attempted murder of him. And with Geo-Force apparently after her too, that target on Talia’s back is looking awfully big. This could create conflict between Batman and Robin, and may set up events for the upcoming Batman vs. Robin event set to launch in September.

Batman vs. Robin will feature the ancient Devil Nezha from Mark Waid’s Batman/Superman: World’s Finest as its main protagonist, and also pits Bruce and Damian against each other. The demon is directly tied to Talia’s family, which may further alienate Damian. Nezha is mentioned for the first time in contemporary continuity in Deathstroke Inc. #9 (opens in new tab), further cementing his role in the future of the DC Universe.

Talia may be following in the footstep of her father, Ra’s al Ghul, one of the best Batman villains ever.

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