I'm impressed by your write-up, Libra, and toast you for drawing such a distinction between two such villainous rogues. The two nicely compare and contrast with their dedication to Lawful and Neutral Evil. I don't agree with every bit of your interpretation but am happy to know that comics can/does produce different ideals!
Also, you should totally do your own Ra's Al Ghul or Vandal Savage write-up. Not that this isn't a good pair themselves.
Libra wrote:In truth Ra's Al-Ghul despises and fears Vandal Savage with all his heart, loathing the 'Million Year-old Man' for his utterly spectacular selfishness and fearing him for the sheer potency of his ability to bring ANYONE that opposes him, ANYTHING that blocks or just plain bothers him crashing down like a mountain pine without fear for what may be lost thereby or much interest in whatever else might be shattered in the process.
On Vandal Savage's part, the Demon's Head is something of an arrivalist in terms of immortality. Four hundred years is something Vandal Savage could spend engaged in an epic spree of murder and looting (and has).
He is, however, more aware of the League of Shadows (Shadows and Assassin being simultaneous translations of the same word from the tongue of its original founders). While Vandal Savage is the/a founder of the Illuminati, Hellfire Club, Roxxon Oil, and a dozen other foul organizations--he's not been unopposed this entire time.
While not reaching the level of the Assassins vs. Templars, needless to say the League has often been a force of frustration to his plans. Because during his million years of life, he's ALSO planned world domination for thousands of years and had it frustrated. The inspiration for the Biblical Cain thus takes great pleasure in watching the Demon Head's degeneration as his alchemical immortality fails.
Ra's Al Ghul would thus dearly love to permanently kill Savage as he has done many other foes long forgotten but he's preoccupied with what he considers larger matters.
Libra wrote:What is the thing Ra's Al-Ghul hates most? You may ask and here I shall answer; a breaker, a burner, a creature that wrecks and then disdains to repair the ravages it has worked upon the world, a man that harms instead of heals and inflicts injury upon others as readily as he puts one foot in front of the other - in short, a vandal.
"You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villian."
On Earth-777, Ra's Al Ghul actually was originally something very akin to Batman with the difference of not being bound by Bruce Wayne's code against killing. Unfortunately, much of his achievements have been overriden by the fact that the Lazarus Madness plus his own desperation not to die without securing his legacy has eaten his mind. In short, much like Jaimie Lannister, whose's gone from being Arthur Dayne to the Smiling Knight.
Ra's Al Ghul is aware he's become more like Savage than he ever wanted to. Especially since part of his plan to "save" the world requires wrecking most of civilization.
Libra wrote: Why not Talia? you might very well ask - because Ra's Al-Ghul knows that his daughter's loyalty is to HIM not to his cause, because he does not want to see his daughter bear his burdens alone and knows that only one man can share that burden joyfully (well, without adding to her burdens at least), because Ra's Al-Ghul is an old man who WILL NOT change and cannot quite bring himself to believe with a whole heart that his DAUGHTER could do as well as a Grandson.
Ra's Al Ghul's issues with his heirs is manifold. Talia is certainly capable of handling the day-to-day operations of the League of Shadows but he's justifiably wary that even if he overcame his own issues with a female heir (and that's quite a lot to ask), his men would find ways of challenging her. Next, more pressing, Talia is a devoted follower of his ideology and lacks the capacity to rise above following in his footsteps (or so he believes). Finally, he doesn't actually want to condemn his daughter to the same level of hard-choices and moral compromises (which he's already failed miserably but is in denial about).
Other heirs he's had over the years and he's had a few, have suffered for the fact that living up to a being as formidable as Ra's Al Ghul is just plain difficult
Libra wrote: Vandal Savage, on the other hand, is a bloody-minded magnificent bully and a terrifyingly unpredictable b******; for all the clever tricks and subtleties he has learned or otherwise acquired over a fantastically long life (not forgetting the frequently devious complexities of which he is capable), at heart he remains a simple beast and never happier than when living from moment to moment, haring off in pursuit of power or breaking to pieces any that would oppose his ascent to power - or just letting off steam by kicking some poor soul's guts out past his backbone, one boot to the belly at a time.
A million years of life have provided Vandal Savage with a "time abyss" perspective on the world that, as you say, is almost Zen its monstrous indulgence of his ID. He lacks the melancholy of most immortals because he's a psychopath who doesn't care about people enough to get tripped up by their deaths. In short, living forever is AWESOME to Vandal Savage and his staggering healing factor* has kept him alive past incredible damage.
That doesn't mean Vandal Savage is incapable of leading or planning, however. Despite his Joker-like obsession with personal whims, Vandal Savage is quite capable of concentrating for centuries on a single task as even the most heroic levels of focus are like an afternoon nap to him after his first 100,000 years of life.
While completely lacking the magical "spark" that would allow him to become a Sorcerer Supreme no matter how much training he possesses (The Mark of Cain warding off any but demonic patrons), Vandal Savage is an incredibly well-educated Ritualist and capable of pulling off damn near any sort of magical feat given enough time and resources--of which he has both.
Likewise, Vandal Savage is one of the most formidable scientists in the world. He's aware of Atlantean, alien, Wakandan, and other sciences that he stole in a manner similar to Sauron in Numenor. The fact he was quite content to sit in a hut with slave girls and a spear despite knowing technology far in excess of anything short of the 30th century should tell you everything you need to know about him.
Much like Doctor Who's the Master, he's a savage with all the knowledge of a civilized man x100.
* And yes, Vandal Savage is a near-immediate ancestor of a certain short and savage superhero from Canada. Vandal Savage is also the father of Sabertooth, though said individual is unaware of this quality.