- I have been called criminal and genius... and I am neither! I am an artist! I have a vision of an Earth as clean and pure as a snow-swept mountain... or the desert outside!
- — Ra's al Ghul src
Ra's al Ghul is a radical international eco-terrorist whose lifespan has been extended for hundreds of years. He believes that the evils of humanity are a blight on our planet, and seeks to extinguish them through whatever means he deems necessary. Through an international organisation called the League of Assassins, he manipulates world events to achieve his own ends. This frequently puts him into conflict with the Batman, one of very few adversaries he deems worthy enough of himself, and who he has encouraged to marry his daughter Talia al Ghul. Although most of his power comes from his immense influence, he is also a formidable combatant, having the benefit of many lifetimes worth of experience and accumulated skill. Ra's achieves his immortality through the ancient Lazarus Pits. His name literally translates to Demon's Head, or Head of the Demon, which is a comment on his character.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Early Life
- 1.2 Building an Empire
- 1.3 Batman
- 1.4 Bat-Murderer
- 1.5 League of Assassins and Lazarus Affair
- 1.6 Son of the Demon
- 1.7 Contagion and Legacy
- 1.8 JLA: Tower of Babel
- 1.9 Death and the Maidens
- 1.10 Head of the Demon
- 1.11 Resurrection
- 1.12 Journey with Red Robin
- 1.13 The Return of Bruce Wayne
- 1.14 31st Century
- 2 Powers and Abilities
- 3 Notes
- 4 Trivia
- 5 Related
The child who would become Ra's al Ghul, whose birth name has been lost to the ages, was born over six hundred years ago to a tribe of nomads in a desert somewhere in Arabia, near a city whose inhabitants' ancestors have journeyed to the Arabian Peninsula from China. Ra's was interested in science from an early age. Unable to learn any science living as a nomad, he abandoned his tribe to live in the city, where he could conduct his scientific research. He became a physician and married a woman named Sora, the love of his life.
Ra's discovered the secret of the Lazarus Pit, and he saved a dying prince by lowering him into it. The prince, who was sadistic to begin with, was driven completely insane by the Lazarus Pit. He proceeded to strangle Sora, whom he has already had his eye on for some time. The ruler of the city, unwilling to admit to himself his son's culpability, declared Ra's guilty of the crime and sentenced him to a slow, tortured death in a cage with Sora's corpse.
However, Ra's was set free by the son of an elderly blind woman, despite having failed to save her. The man felt that he owed Ra's a debt for easing his mother's suffering during her last few hours. Ra's and the son headed into the desert to seek the tribe that Ra's was born into. Ra's convinced the head of his tribe, his uncle, to follow Ra's in his quest for revenge by promising the downfall of the king of the city. By understanding the germ theory of disease hundreds of years before anyone else, Ra's was able to infect the prince with a deadly virus by sending him contaminated fabrics. When the ruler of the city came to ask Ra's to cure the prince again, Ra's killed both him and his son. Ra's then led his tribe to raze the city to the ground and kill all of its inhabitants. Subsequently, Ra's declared himself the "Demon's Head", after desecrating the altar of Bisu.
Building an Empire
Ra's spent the next several centuries journeying the world. During this time, Ra's, his uncle, and the boy used the Lazarus Pits to prolong their lives until an incident in London. Ra's caught the boy writing his own memoirs in their original language, of which Ra's had forbidden all records. During a battle, Ra's killed the boy and fled to use a Lazarus Pit. When he returned to their home in London, his uncle had vanished with the remnants of their historical records.
Over time, he became a master of many forms of combat, notably fencing. He also built up vast wealth and created The Demon, a large international organization, dubbed after his own codename "The Demon's Head". Inside this organization there were various factions, most notably The League of Assassins, which was sometimes called "The Demon's Fang" or "Demonfang".
During his journeys across the world, Ra's came across the Infinity Island in the Indian Ocean and discovered a special Lazarus Pit at the core of the island. Using his army of soldiers, Ra's invaded the island and conquered the natives of the place, turning them into slaves and gaining resources to expand his empire. For centuries, Ra's kept the island as a secret place, making the world believe it was an abandoned island. During all those years, Ra's used the Lazarus Pit to expand his lifespan.
Years later, Ra's used his organization during World War II to fight against the Axis powers in order to stop the war. A casualty from such efforts was the death of a close soldier, forcing Ra's to raise the man's son as his own. The teenager by the name of Quinlan developed a bad attitude after his parents' deaths, which used to upset Ra's wife, Melisande. Quinlan eventually discovered Ra's Lazarus Pit, but he was caught by Melisande. The young man fled the scene, but pushed Melisande into the pit, killing her. Ra's lost his wife and surrogate son, who later adopted the alias of Qayin and became an international terrorist.
In recent years, Ra's learned that Infinity Island was bought by some Bruce Wayne, and he set out to destroy the man and acquire his business empire. It was then, that Ra's learned the best kept secret in Gotham City.
As the leader of the "Demon", Ra's had control over the League of Assassins, but the League was run by a few of Ra's most trusted people. Unfortunately, in the modern days, Ra's had a falling out with the former president of the League, Dr. Darrk, who kidnapped Talia as a way to get revenge over Ra's. Talia was eventually rescued by the dark hero from Gotham City, Batman, and she killed Dr. Darrk in self-defense. After these developments, Ra's became aware of the impact that Batman had on his daughter.
Shortly after, Ra's reached Batman, seeking his help in finding his missing daughter, who was apparently kidnapped in the same way as Batman's ward, Dick Grayson. However, Ra's had everything planned as part of a quest to test Batman's abilities and skills. When Batman learned Ra's intentions and rescued Robin, he demanded to know why Ra's put him through all that and Ra's explained that he needed to make sure he was a suitable heir for his empire. He explained that his daughter, Talia, was in love with Batman and Ra's was willing to give him her hand in marriage if he proved to be a worthy successor, which Batman proved beyond any doubt.
Batman didn't answer Ra's straight away, and Ra's would often keep in contact with the "Detective", informing him of strange crimes for him to solve. The first time, Ra's asked Batman to capture a rogue scientist, who was planning to spread a plague using a synthetic formula. Not long after this, Ra's planned the murder of an American scientist and with help from Dr. Moon, they tried to learn confidential information from the scientist's brain. Ra's plan was thwarted by Batman, who finally realized the nature of Ra's activities and their rivalry started.
Later, Ra's travelled to his hideout in Switzerland in order to recover his vital strength. Eventually, Ra's died and his men started the process to revive him. Batman tried to bring Ra's to justice, but when he learned that Ra's was dead, he dropped his quest.
It was then that Talia activated the machine that dropped Ra's on the Lazarus Pit, bringing him back from the dead once again. With his strength increased and his mind crazed, Ra's attacked Batman and his friends before Talia could stop him. She then helped Ra's escape from Batman and they travelled to one of Ra's secret bases in the desert, where Ra's started to gather supplies to rebuild what Batman had destroyed and hasten his plan to cleanse the world. However, Batman soon found him and Ra's challenged Batman to a duel with swords to the death. Their combat lasted for hours and Ra's came up victorious when Batman was stung by a scorpion. Ra's left Batman to die, but Talia gave him the antidote and allowed Batman to recover before he could finally capture Ra's al Ghul. Ra's was then carried away from his desert fortress by Batman, who planned to deliver him to the authorities.
While locked in his cell at the Gotham Prison, Ra's planned his revenge against Batman. Soon, the Dark Knight was blamed for the murder of Talia and Ra's was eventually interrogated by Batman about this event. Ra's confessed that he planned Talia's death in order to frame Batman and after revealing the truth, he shot himself, making it look as if Batman had also killed him. However, it was all part of a plan to turn the Gotham City authorities against the Dark Knight. Batman eventually found the truth and confronted Ra's, who had faked his and his daughter's death, turning Batman into an outlaw. The ultimate goal was to force Batman to join him as his heir, but the Caped Crusader refused and tried to take Ra's al Ghul back to prison. In the final confrontation, Batman was distracted saving Talia's life, which allowed Ra's to remain free, even though it seemed as if he died inside a burning circus tent.
Ra's then reappeared during a mock criminal court to determine Batman's killer and he acted as the judge during the whole charade, unaware that it was all a plan by the Dark Knight to capture the Joker. Afterwards, Ra's set in motion his next plan, which consisted of marrying Batman with Talia and keep him busy while Ra's and his men looted Gotham in order to steal diamonds for a special project. As usual, Batman managed to overcome Ra's trap and Ra's was forced to retreat away from Gotham in defeat.
League of Assassins and Lazarus Affair
Ra's al Ghul eventually lost control of the League as most of its members defected in favor of Sensei's leadership. In order to weaken the League's defenses, Ra's al Ghul manipulated information, which caused a conflict between the League and Batman after the League murdered Kathy Kane, the former Batwoman. This was part of Ra's ultimate plan to gain total control over the League. Ra's was forced to work with Batman in order to prevent the League from retrieving a powerful formula, and a short time later, Ra's learned of Batman's success in cornering the Sensei. To prevent Batman from taking down Sensei and the League entirely, Ra's drugged Batman, taking him out of the way and challenged the Sensei, but the building they were in collapsed to the ground, apparently killing both Ra's and Sensei.
Ra's however, survived the encounter and started a grand scheme to financially ruin Bruce Wayne and seize his corporation. Part of his plan was also to kidnap Batman and force him to join his army. Batman refused and Talia was almost killed by one of Ra's henchmen during their confrontation, which in turn forced Ra's to save his daughter using the Lazarus Pit on Infinity Island. However, Talia finally defected from his side and an enraged Ra's blamed Batman for this outcome. Thus, a deadly confrontation started and Ra's fought Batman until he accidentally fell into the Pit. Ra's rose stronger and crazier than before, but when he fell into the pit a second time, Ra's was apparently killed as the volcano of Infinity Island exploded due to the unusual activity of the pit. For a brief time, Ra's al Ghul was once again presumed dead.
Son of the Demon
Main article: Batman: Son of the Demon
Because Ra's' body had fallen into the Lazarus Pit, he couldn't die and he soon returned to life. His next plan consisted of the genocide of a large part of the population of Gotham, but it was thwarted by Batman and Talia, and once again, Ra's was apparently killed, victim of his own scheme.
As usual, Ra's didn't die and soon resumed his activities. While restoring one of his Lazarus Pits, Ra's was visited by Batman and Talia, who were trying to find and stop the international terrorist known as Qayin. Because of his past with the terrorist, Ra's made an alliance with Batman in order to stop Qayin once and for all. Their combined efforts allowed them to put an end to Qayin's reign of terror, but their alliance came to an end when Talia forced Batman to leave after an apparent miscarriage. Whatever plans Ra's had were put on hold, allowing everyone to grieve for their loss.
Contagion and Legacy
Ra's returns to prominence and comes dangerously close to realizing his dream of worldwide genocide when his organization unleashes a deadly virus known as Ebola Gulf A (a.k.a. "The Clench") in Gotham City, putting Batman in conflict with a force he seemingly cannot defeat. A cure is eventually located by Batman and his allies, though the mastermind behind the outbreak is not discovered.
Learning that the Demon's Head still lives, Batman and his team circled the globe, preventing further outbreaks of the virus. Additionally, it is discovered that Ra's has allied himself with Bane, the man who once crippled and nearly killed Batman. Ra's considers Bane a potential heir to his empire, despite his daughter Talia's distaste for the brutish criminal. Eventually, a way to eliminate the Clench virus is deduced from an ancient "Wheel of Plagues" artifact whose knowledge has aided Ra's in the creation of the disease. But the immortal madman again eludes his foes.
JLA: Tower of Babel
Main article: JLA: Tower of Babel
Ra's discovers Batman's notes on the weaknesses of the other members of the Justice League of America (developed in the event of a villain gaining control of the JLA's bodies and using them against humanity) and uses them to try to destroy the group. Though defeated, Ra's does cause the (temporary) exit of Batman from the JLA, which occurs because of the mistrust of his teammates due to his contingency plans. Though some of the League's members resent the plans, they agree that the plans were created for the right reasons.
Batman does not realize Ra's is using his traps until it is too late, as he is busy searching for the corpses of his parents, which Ra's removes to distract him.
Talia, disillusioned with her father and his plans, leaves him to run LexCorp for former U.S. President Lex Luthor, before selling the company to Bruce Wayne for his Wayne Foundation to aid Batman and Superman's victory over Luthor. Ra's blames Batman for his failed relationship with Talia, and stages a plot where he tries to separate Batman from his heir, Dick Grayson (Nightwing) shortly before Wayne officially adopted his now fully grown ward as his son. The plan fails, and Wayne and Grayson go ahead with the adoption.
Ra's would also be involved with Bruce's second adopted son, Jason. After the boy's death at the hands of the Joker, Talia discovered that somehow Jason was alive and Ra's was willing to take the boy to his side to learn about his death "ruse". However, Jason's mind was broken and years of taking care of him caused Ra's to want to get rid of him. Talia used one of Ra's Lazarus Pit to heal Jason's mind and body, unleashing the wrath of Ra's upon them both.
Ra's has a romantic fling with Black Canary. Black Canary is injured and healed in the Lazarus Pit, which also restores her Canary Cry that she lost years earlier.
Death and the Maidens
Main article: Batman: Death and the Maidens
Nyssa, furious at her father for abandoning her in a concentration camp, begins plotting to destroy him. Nyssa befriends Talia and then kidnaps and brainwashes her. Nyssa plots to destroy all hope and optimism in the world by assassinating Superman with Kryptonite bullets she steals from the Batcave. While Batman stops Nyssa from killing Superman, he is unable to stop her from mortally injuring her father. A dying Ra's reveals that this is all part of his greater plan to ensure that his daughters, both initially dissatisfied with his plans, will realize that he is correct in his perceptions about the world and what needs to be done to it, and that they would come to accept their destinies as his heirs. Ra's' plan works: both Nyssa and Talia become the heads of The Demon and the League of Assassins. Talia disavows her love for Bruce Wayne, and both sisters declare Batman their enemy. However, it is too late for Ra's, as Nyssa stabs her father through the heart, seemingly killing him for good. To ensure Ra's will not return, Batman oversees the body's cremation.
Head of the Demon
Talia is prompted to read the history of Ra's al Ghul to her son Damian by a mysterious figure from Ra's past: the White Ghost. Unbeknownst to her, the White Ghost plans to use Damian as a vessel for Ra's return. However, mother and son manage to escape before the plan is completed. After the escape, Batman confronts the White Ghost; he fights Batman, but accidentally ends up falling into a Lazarus pit.
Main article: Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul
Talia al Ghul takes her son Damian Wayne to the Australian outback where he is tutored in the secret history of his grandfather, Ra's al Ghul. Talia is unaware that a former servant of Ra's, an albino named White Ghost, plans to use Damian as a shell for the soul of Ra's to return to Earth. Realizing that this process would kill Damian, Talia saves her son from his fate at the last minute. However the essence of Ra's is still able to return to our plane of existence as a living corpse, still needing Damian to stabilize his form.
After he manages to get a renewed body, Ra's al Ghul, moves his base of operations to Gotham City where it is revealed that a remnant of his son Dusan's consciousness still remains within him. This arrogance attributes to the brazen move to Gotham and a subsequent ninja attack on Batman, which indirectly leads to the discovery of a map of all the known Lazarus Pit locations across the globe. Batman then infiltrates Ra's al Ghul's new Gotham penthouse headquarters and easily defeats his horde of ninjas and Ra's himself. To ensure Ra's is not a constant threat within Gotham City, Batman comes up with the false identity of "Terry Gene Kase," and plants it along with credible photos, medical records, and police records for both Blackgate Penitentiary and Arkham Asylum. Batman takes an unconscious Ra's directly to Arkham where it is believed he really is the prisoner "Terry Gene Kase," a criminal with multiple personality disorder who has just been transferred to Arkham to finish out multiple life sentences. Along with attaching false information and a false identity to Ra's al Ghul's file, Batman attaches a false prescription of potent medication that ensures slurred speech and next to zero mobility. However, the orderlies miss Ra's dosage once, which allows him to become conscious enough to escape from Arkham.
Some time later, Ra's contacted Nightwing and asked him to travel to his secret location. During the meeting, Ra's asked Nightwing about Batman's fate and after learning of Bruce's death, Ra's started a fight against Nightwing, in which he was defeated.
Journey with Red Robin
The Return of Bruce Wayne
Main article: Bruce Wayne: The Road Home
Ra's al Ghul was informed by his pupil, Prudence, that Red Robin was teaming up with a new vigilante by the name of Insider. Ra's immediately deduced that Insider was none other than Bruce Wayne and he was eager to meet his old enemy again. When Ra's learned that Vicki Vale had deduced the identities of every "Bat" in Gotham, he spread the word out through Gotham's underground. Ra's then sent the Seven Men of Death and White Ghost to eliminate her. When they failed, Ra's confronted Vicki himself. However, before he could kill her, the "Insider" arrived and revealed himself as Bruce Wayne. He was able to dissuade Ra's from killing her and Ra's left with the promise of meeting again.
In a possible future timeline, Ra's al Ghul took over the identity of Industrialist Leland McCauley who by that time had been appointed President of the United Planets. When the lost Legionnaires came back to Earth they were surprised to learn that President Brande had been impeached and that McCauley was now in office. The Legion were made fugitives and a warrant was put out for their arrest. Whilst on the run they discovered the decomposed body of the real McCauley dumped in the sewers of New Metropolis. However they were able to unmask Ra's Al Ghul to show the galaxy who he really was.
The Legion defeated him and his Oversight Watch and thwarted his plans to jump-start the evolutionary process of humanity. A stock of cloned bodies of the Demon's Head were found and, for a time, the Legion assumed that this Ra's Al Ghul was a clone too. Brainiac 5 realized later that the resurrection process of the Lazarus Pit to which Ra's Al Ghul had submitted himself for decades had changed him. He is literally the Lazarus Fires and the cloned bodies were simply vessels for this "sentient blood".
Powers and Abilities
- Lazarus Enhancement: Ra's al Ghul has lived for several centuries thanks to his use of Lazarus Pits which he has used countless times replenishing his aged, injured, or even dead body. As a side effect to numerous exposures to the pits his strength, speed, stamina, agility, and durability has been enhanced.
- Genius Level Intellect: Ra's possesses a genius level intellect with aptitudes in a wide variety of sciences and medicine.
- Alchemy: Ra's is capable of creating unique potions that would be inconceivable using traditional methods.
- Tactical Analysis: Ra's is a brilliant tactician, planning his exploits many months even years in advanced.
- Leadership: Ra's is a highly capable leader, as he has led the League of Assassins for centuries.
- Occultism: Ra's possesses vast knowledge and understanding of his arcane Lazarus Pits, as well as mystical rituals that allowed him to transfer his soul into the body of another.
- Martial Arts: Ra's long life has attributed him vast wealth, knowledge, and power. This has allowed him to learn numerous fighting styles over the years, making him rival even Batman in hand-to-hand combat and sword fighting.
- Ra's al Ghul was created by Julius Schwartz, Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams. The name of the character was first coined by Schwartz. He first came across the word "Algol", which is the name of a "Demon Star". The name of the star comes from the Arabic (or its Semitic equivalent) al ghul, which means "a ghoul". He then combined this with the word "raz" from the Hebrew meaning "head". Thus "raz al ghul" is the "head of the demons" (ghouls). O'Neil and Adams then developed the character further, following Schartwz's initial concept.
- Batman: Birth of the Demon provides a rough figure of 500 years for Ra's al Ghul's age. However, Azrael #6 (July 1995; written by Ra's al Ghul's co-creator Dennis O'Neil) places Ra's closer to 450 years old. "I appear to be a vigorous fifty. I am actually a very vigorous four hundred and forty-eight...or is it four hundred and fifty-three? I lost count during the Black Plague. No matter." - Ra's al Ghul to Jean Paul Valley.
- In Batman Annual #25 (published in 2006) Ra's al Ghul is described as a "700-Year Old International Terrorist". However, in this publication it is also written that "time is more fluid than believed". This is noted in reference to Superboy Prime causing several such anomalies within the DCU continuity during the time leading up to the events of 'Infinite Crisis'. There has been no definitive account of Ra's Al Ghul's age following the conclusion of the 'Infinite Crisis' and the generation of 'New Earth'.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- Ra's al Ghul is always accompanied by a servant known as Ubu, who is also an especially dangerous fighter. It should be noted that rather than being a single individual, Ubu is actually a title held by a line of replaceable servants. Along with Malhar Naik, he has been one of the League of Assassins' leaders.
- Ra's al Ghul is among Batman's most formidable foes. Not only can he physically and mentally challenge "the Detective", the name by which Ra's always refers to Batman; but he has also deduced Batman's secret identity, as in his first appearance, he realized that Batman would need to possess certain equipment, and research revealed that Bruce Wayne alone bought what Batman would need.
- When Ra's was kept in Arkham Asylum his assumed identity was American, not Egyptian.
- It remains unknown exactly how old Ra's al Ghul is (see Notes above). All that is known is he has lived well beyond a normal human lifespan. However, every time Ra's uses the Lazarus Pit, he grows closer to "the one death that cannot be reversed" (his words) — i.e. the pit will no longer be able to restore him.
- Appearances of Ra's al Ghul (New Earth)
- Images featuring Ra's al Ghul (New Earth)
- Quotations by or about Ra's al Ghul (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Ra's al Ghul (New Earth)
- Batman Annual #8
- Birds of Prey #32
- Batman: Birth of the Demon
- Justice League of America #94
- Batman #335
- Batman: Son of the Demon
- Detective Comics #411
- Batman #232
- Batman #235
- Batman #240
- Batman #243
- Batman #244
- Detective Comics #445
- Detective Comics #448
- Batman: Where Were You on the Night Batman Was Killed?
- DC Special Series #15
- Detective Comics #485
- The Brave and the Bold #159
- Detective Comics #490
- Batman #334
- JLA #43-46
- Batman Annual #25
- Birds of Prey #31-35
- Batman: Death and the Maidens
- Batman Annual #26
- Nightwing (Volume 2) #145
- Nightwing (Volume 2) #152
- Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #3
- Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Red Robin #1
- Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Commissioner Gordon #1
- Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Oracle #1
- Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Ra's al Ghul #1
- Batman: Death and the Maidens #2
- Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul
- Man of Two Worlds; 2000 (Schwartz Autobiography)
League of Assassins member
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This character or group of characters is or was primarily an enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the 31st Century, and may have existed in any of the various Legion continuities, including but not limited to the Original Legion, Reboot Legion, and the Prime Legion. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Legion of Super-Heroes villains" category.