DC has brought back one of Batman’s oldest mentors: Henri Ducard. No, he isn’t actually Ra’s al Ghul—he’s an actual character with his own skills.
Warning: major spoilers ahead for Batman: The Detective #2!
The man who trained Batman is finally returning to DC Comics. Many fans may recognize Ra’s al Ghul as one of Batman’s main mentors thanks to the Nolanverse. However, Henri Ducard was actually one of Bruce’s first mentors. Now, Batman: The Detective #2 is bringing him back.
Batman has undergone lots of training throughout his history. He is trained in martial arts and has engaged in lots of personal study to become the World’s Greatest Detective. Over the years, Bruce Wayne has traveled the world honing his skills. Through his travels he has met many people, learning from them and gaining more skillsets. Though Ra’s al Ghul is one of his more famous mentors in some universes, he definitely wasn’t the first.
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Created by Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert, Batman: The Detective #2 brings about the return of one of Batman’s earliest mentors. Henri Ducard first appeared in Detective Comics #599 in 1989. He is one of the best manhunters in the world. This Frenchman’s tracking skills are second to none, making him an intriguing character to see interacting with Bruce. Even though Ra’s al Ghul was introduced earlier in the comics—Batman #232 in 1971—he was not Bruce’s mentor. When they first met, Bruce was already Batman and Ra’s respected him, wanting him to be his heir by marrying his daughter Talia. Henri Ducard is the one that taught Batman a lot of his more specialized skills.
The name Henri Ducard may be somewhat familiar to fans, as it was used in the 2005 film, Batman Begins. This was an alias used by Ra’s al Ghul—who was portrayed by Liam Neeson. Despite this amalgamation within the film, the characters are two separate people within the comics. They are not simply alternate identities to hide under. In Batman: The Detective #2, Batman is in Europe on the trail of a new villain group, Equilibrium, who is targeting people he has saved. While on the trail, he is reunited with his former mentor, who he parted ways with previously due to a disagreement on criminal activities Ducard was engaged in. Previously, Ducard appeared briefly in the New 52 and he also appeared in Detective Comics #996 back in 2019. The character tends to make sporadic appearances, but now he is back and helping Batman with his latest case—while also muddling things up.
In the New 52 universe, Bruce Wayne was shown actively seeking out Ducard to learn the skill of manhunting. His appearances in that universe were mainly flashbacks from Bruce’s earlier days of training within issues of Batman and Robin. Now in this series, Ducard is back and actually involved in an active adventure, even if he isn’t as beneficial to Batman as the Dark Knight may wish he was. In some ways, he is the kind of hinderance that most people tend to be. He is a potential liability that Batman has to save instead of a partner that can hold his own as well as he once did. Though Ducard and the caped crusader don’t see eye to eye, the former mentor figure has some skeletons hidden in his closet that might have some major connections to the new problem Bruce faces. DC Comics has brought back Batman’s former mentor, Henri Ducard, in a big—and potentially trouble-causing manner.
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