Ra's al Ghul (DC)
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Ra's al Ghul was a long-lived man who believed his fellow humans were destroying the planet. He built a global operation and sought ways to drastically reduce the world's population, putting him at odds with forces of justice. His greatest opponent was Batman, who was also one of the few living people to earn his respect.
The man who was known to many as the Demon's Head was born in the North Africa untold centuries ago. For his era, he was unusually tall for his people; six foot five. He was raised in a large group of nomads but was fascinated by science from an early age. As they traveled across North Africa, from place to place, the boy absorbed information at an amazing rate. Seeking more, he left the nomadic life in favor of establishing himself in the city of Benghazi. Through the years he studied and became a doctor, earning the favor of many. He married a woman named Sora and thought life could not get better.
Some time after his wedding, the man learned the secret of making a Lazarus Pit, an alchemical construct created over ley lines and capable of restoring the dead to life. He had cause to use the pit for the first time when the king of another country summoned him to tend to his ailing son, a prince. The illness gripped the prince and ended his life, so Sora's husband took him to the Lazarus Pit. As the prince emerged, he was maddened by the changes to his body and strangled Sora, breaking her husband's heart. The king would not condemn his son's actions and had the physician arrested instead. After being declared guilty, the doctor was placed in a cage with his wife's corpse, turning him partially insane.
But he didn't die. He was freed instead by the grateful son of a patient. They fled into the desert, seeking the tribe of his birth. There he planned revenge and became the first man in history to engage in germ warfare by sending the prince contaminated fabrics. A frantic king once more asked for the doctor's help, but this time the grief stricken man took the lives of the king and prince. His people then razed the city.
Set against the flames engulfing the society, he became the third Ra's, which translated, along with his last name, is "demon's head."
Over the next several centuries the Ra's continued his education and sought to build a base of power. Accompanying him early on were his uncle and the boy who'd rescued him, until Ra's discovered that the boy had maintained a written account of their prolonged lives. Ra's killed the boy and then used a Lazarus Pit on himself. When he recovered, his uncle had fled with all the written records.
By 1250 Ra's made the first of several failed attempts to obtain the Holy Grail while the chalice was being transported to Europe. A century later, as the Black Plague ravaged Europe, he made a second attempt. He again failed, fleeing the continent.
His travels took him to South America, where he met another immortal on January 16, 1569, a man named Talon, whose long life was not dependent upon the Lazarus Pits. A friendship was formed but lasted only briefly when Talon refused to impart the natives' secret magicks to be used to stop another long-lived adversary, a man known only as Blackheart. All three paths would cross time and again for the next four centuries.
Ra's romanced a Russian woman and in January 1775, she gave birth to his first child, a girl named Nyssa Raatko. He left the woman to raise the child in poverty. Fourteen years later, shortly after his using the pits once more, Nyssa found him in North Africa and asked to become his protegee. By this time Ra's commanded vast resources, honing his strategic skills and establishing his global resources. It was probably around this time that he formed the League of Assassins to further his goals.
While in Sudan in 1794, Nyssa was mortally wounded and submerged in a Lazarus Pit for the first time. Soon after, Ra's left his daughter to her own devices; this was the beginning of the hard feelings she would develop for him.
A decade later, in 1808, Ra's served Napoleon Bonaparte and devastated Badajoz, Spain, once again missing a chance at the Holy Grail.
The chronicles do not record activities by the Demon's Head until 1923, when Nyssa gave birth to his grandson, Daniel. Ra's arrived and demanded custody, something his daughter refused, resorting to holding a gun on her father to make her point. They next saw each other when SS officer Ra's al Ghul witnessed his daughter suffering at Germany's Ravensbruck concentration camp and did nothing to help her. It was an unpleasant visit: He explained sacrifices such as his grandchildren had to be made in order for his great plan to take shape. He never revealed the plan, though. While the Demon's Head had no love for the Nazi Party, he saw it as a way to amass intelligence, allies, and additional wealth. During the French occupation, Talon and Ra's crossed paths once more.
During the Woodstock Music Festival in August 1969, Ra's met a woman named Melisande, who would later give birth to his second daughter, Talia Head. Melisande soon after died at the hands of Qayin, the son of agents who worked for Ra's who died during the bombing at Hiroshima. Ra's raised her on his own, making certain that her schooling encompassed all mental and physical disciplines. Unlike Nyssa, Talia was to be denied nothing.
The League of Assassins operated in relative anonymity until the man Ra's assigned to run it, the Sensei, and he had a falling-out. The former leader took a splinter cell with him while the Demon's Head turned command over to Dr. Ebenezer Darkk, who made a series of errors that brought the League to Batman's attention.
Desperate and having fallen from grace with Ra's, Darkk took Talia as a hostage even as Batman trailed him to a small Asian nation. After running a gauntlet of assassins and freeing Talia, Batman found himself held at bay by the knife-wielding doctor. Insisting hat the gun-toting Talia was "far too sweet" to kill him, the stunned Darkk reeled backward from the impact of her shot and fell directly into the path of an oncoming train.
Ra's al Ghul felt he had finally found the appropriate heir to his empire and consort for his daughter. His investigations revealed Batman's identity, and the Demon's Head set an elaborate scheme in motion to test the World's Greatest Detective. Batman managed to locate Ra's Himalayan headquarters and was made the offer of a lifetime. While attracted to Talia, Batman refused both, and a rivalry between the men was established. Over the next several years the men fought, outmaneuvered each other, and clashed over the fate of the world.
Seeing after Talia's future remained on Ra's mind, and he went so far as to kidnap Batman; while the Dark Knight was unconscious, he had him married to Talia. Not long after, Ra's found himself actually allied with the Dark Knight to defeat Qayin, who still sought the Demon's Head's death. During the event, Talia became pregnant with Damian, Ra's second grandchild.
Ra's found another woman to love, aging film star Evelyn Grace, who became his second wife after all the centuries. She gave him a son, Brant, only to die soon after. In the wake of her death, Ra's seemed to focus his energies on cleansing the Earth, and indeed he stepped up his efforts.
On the anniversary of Batman's debut, Ra's al Ghul intended to show the Caped Crusader how ineffectual his campaign against crime was and suggest that he should just let humanity destroy itself. To make the point painfully clear, he engineered the escape of numerous villains from Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Penitentiary, pushing the Gotham Guardian to his limit. While all this was physically taxing to the hero, his spirit remained strong.
It was Ra's who masterminded unleashing the Ebola-A virus known as the Clench that took thousands of lives in Gotham City. Batman and his allies pursued the immortal villain around the world to prevent him from unleashing a worse cache of viruses from the ancient, apocalyptic Wheel of Plagues.
Soon after, he erected a language-altering "Tower of Babel" while disabling the Justice League of America by attacking its members with worstcase-scenario protocols developed by Batman and stolen from the Batcave. He went so far as to distract the Dark Knight by stealing the coffins of Thomas and Martha Wayne, threatening to resurrect them in a Lazarus Pit if Batman interfered. Always with another plan in the works, Ra's retreated to a new base of operations, only to be tracked by Batman, who managed to stop him from distributing a mutagenic longevity drug. His actions and attitudes finally alienated Talia for the final time and she left her father, seemingly for good.
Frustrated by his constant defeats, Ra's tried to elevate himself to godhood, only to be thwarted this time by Superman. Ra's removed himself from the world stage, regrouping and furthering new plans. During this time he was reasonably anonymous and actually began a romance with an unsuspecting Black Canary, before an alarmed Oracle tipped her off to his true name. After she was mortally wounded in a battle with Ra's bodyguard Ubu, the Canary's body was immersed in a Lazarus Pit, restoring her life and her long-lost sonic powers.
Talia continued to chafe at Ra's interference in her life. His battles with Batman cost her a chance at a romance with her "beloved", while he tried to suggest the brutish Bane was a likely replacement. Ra's went on to blame Batman for his relationship issues and tried to cause a similar rift between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, to little effect.
Ra's and Batman next met when the Demon's Head actually got brought into the Riddler's and Hush's scheme to kill Batman. The two men dueled once more in the desert. While he was distracted, Nyssa reappeared after years in hiding and set out to destroy the remaining Lazarus Pits, driving a dying Ra's to Batman for help. Nyssa captured her half sister Talia, repeatedly killing and resurrecting her, brainwashing the woman into becoming her father's killer. As he lay dying, Ra's admitted that he had foreseen this possibility and was pleased that his daughters were acting in concert, hoping they would learn together how right he was about the fate of the world.
With his daughters taking charge of the League and Talia having already exposed is wealth to Lex Luthor, the legacy of Ra's al Ghul seemed to have finally been dismantled.
A longtime ally of Ra's, the White Ghost, chose to resurrect the Demon's Head, placing his eternal spirit within the body of his grandson, Damian. Ra's had already escaped certain death by inhabiting a different body, but it was rapidly decaying from radiation poisoning.
Damian didn't want to become a vessel for his grandfather, and Talia took him to alert Batman. This began a global race to protect Damian and prevent Ra's from permanent resurrection. Along the way, Ra's tested the Dark Knight's allies with promises of resurrecting loved ones, but they remained loyal to their ideals. Also threatened was the fabled land of Nanda Parbat with its mystic healing properties. At the Fountain of Essence, a variation of the Lazarus Pit, Batman and the Sensei, who claimed to be Ra's father, battled, and when the villain fell into the fountain, he was found wanting and died. The Caped Crusader also fell into the fountain and was partially rejuvenated by its properties.
In one potential future, a decade hence, Ra's was still alive, having made deals with members of the Teen Titans to allow them use of the Lazarus Pits.
In another potential future, Ra's survived to the thirtieth century. There he murdered Leland McCauley and assumed his identity. He then engineered his way into taking power on Earth and disbanded the famed Legion of Super-Heroes. Eventually his scheme was exposed and the Legion regrouped to oppose him before he could accelerate Earth's evolution and cause one in everyone hundred thousand human beings to become new life-forms that would safeguard Earth's species.
In a different potential reality, an aging Dark Knight passed on the Batman mantle to his son and sought out Ra's al Ghul. The Demon's Head offered Batman a chance to join him in immortality by entering the pit together. The emerging figure was a rejuvenated Batman, now possessing the souls of both men and living more than a thousand years.
Created by Dennis O'Neil & Neal Adams
First Appearance: Batman (1940) #232
Leland McCauley (Earth-247)
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- 'Absolute Power, The Startling Conclusion: "Thy Will Be Done..."'#50
- 'The Fathers'
The Batman Chronicles (1995)
The Batman Chronicles Gallery (1997)
The Batman Gallery (1992)
#1 The Brave and the Bold (1955)
- 'The Batman Gallery'
#159 The DC Comics Encyclopedia (2004)
- 'The Crystal Armageddon!'
HC The Legion (2001)
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia: Updated And Expanded'HC
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia'
#3 The Outsiders (2009)
- 'Legion World'#4
- 'Moon Rise'#6
- 'Fear of Change'#8
- 'Revival of the Fittest Part One'#18
- 'Revival of the Fittest, Part Two'
#19 The Saga of Ra's Al Ghul (1988)
- 'The Deep: Part Five'#20
- 'The Deep, Conclusion'
The Untold Legend of the Batman (Australian) (1982)
Untold Legend of the Batman (1980)
#2 Who's Who in the DC Universe (1990)
- 'With Friends Like These...'
#13 Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe (1985)
- 'Arkham Asylum To Star Sapphire'
#13 Year One: Batman/Ra's al Ghul (2005)
- 'Krona to Losers'#19
- 'Puzzler to Roy Raymond'
Video Game Appearances:
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003)
League of Assassins (DC)
Famous Quotes: - Add a Famous Quote
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