Doctor Ebeneezer Darrk
The League of Assassins was founded by Ra's al Ghul (exactly when is unknown) to be "the fang that protects the head". Members of the League demonstrated willingness to die at a word from Ra's. They have included some of the most dangerous assassins in the world including Lady Shiva, David Cain, and master archer Merlyn. For much of its current history, any member to fail in an assassination was in turn targeted by the League (and indeed, one of its most well known members, the master-archer Merlyn was eventually forced to flee from the League, fearing for his life, having failed to assassinate Batman). In more recent years, this policy has apparently relaxed somewhat.
Ebeneezer Darrk, aka Doctor Darrk, was the first known individual assigned to head the League of Assassins by Ra's al Ghul. Darrk himself was seconded by The Sensei, a martial arts master from Hong Kong. Although many of the League's leaders over the years have been accomplished martial artists, Darrk himself did not depend on physical prowess. As an assassin, he instead relied upon careful planning, manipulation, ambushes and death traps, as well as a variety of cleverly concealed weapons and poisons. Although the League apparently had an inner circle of elite fighters as well as a large number of warriors trained in the martial arts, The League during Darrk's tenure as leader reflected his personal methodology. Following a "falling out" with Ra's (the exact details of which were never made clear), Darrk kidnapped Ra's daughter, Talia al Ghul. Batman became involved in this matter while attempting to bring the League to justice for a number of recent killings. Although he had connected the League to several assassinations over the years, all previous attempts to investigate had met dead-ends. Batman rescued Talia (the first time the two would meet, laying the foundation for all their future interaction) and Darrk died while trying to kill them.
Under the direction of the organization's second known leader, the villainous Sensei, the League became more brutal and rebelled against Ra's' rule. Although the Sensei's methods closely resembled Darrk's, and the majority of the League's operatives showed little to no real skill in personal combat, the Sensei did show slightly more reliance on skilled martial artists. This version of the League is best known for two assassinations. As part of an initiation process, the operative known as the Hook was assigned to murder Boston Brand (who became Deadman after his death). Additionally, Professor Ojo successfully brainwashed Ben Turner (best friend and partner of Richard Dragon), creating an alternate personality dubbed the Bronze Tiger, turning the master martial artist into a League operative. As the Bronze Tiger, Turner defeated Batman in personal combat while another League operative murdered Kathy Kane (the secret identity of Batwoman in pre-Crisis continuity, and a close personal friend of Batman's post-Crisis). Eventually, Turner's training at the hands of the O-Sensei proved too strong for the League to fully break; when he refused to kill Batman, Turner was forced to flee the League. Not long afterwards, the insane Sensei - no longer motivated by anything but a desire to raise assassination to an art - attempted to cause an artificial earthquake in order to kill a number of diplomats gathered for peace talks. Batman traced Ben Turner to a hospital, foiling a League attempt to assassinate the man. Turner could not fully remember the actions of his alternate personality (although years later, as a member of the Suicide Squad, he would reveal that the League had used him to kill a number of people) but he was able to aid Batman in uncovering the Sensei's latest plot. Although Batman was unable to prevent the earthquake, ultimately it was only the Sensei himself that died in the disaster, and control of the League returned to Ra's.
Role in the Creation of Lady Shiva
It was recently revealed that, prior to the betrayals of Doctor Darrk and the Sensei, Ra's had grown tired of the fickle loyalties of his warriors. Ra's assigned David Cain to create a perfect bodyguard ("The One Who Is All"). After early attempts to raise such a person resulted in hopelessly psychotic children, Cain decided that he needed a genetically-suited child and began searching for a possible mother. To this end, he assassinated Carolyn Woosan/Wu-San, one of two astonishingly talented martial artist sisters he had seen fighting in an exhibition. Carolyn's sister, Sandra, swore revenge and tracked Cain down, only to be subdued by the combined might of the League. Both intoxicated and frightened by the levels of skill she was attaining now that she was no longer holding back for her sister's sake, Sandra agreed to be the mother of Cain's child. In return, the League spared Sandra's life and assisted her in further training. By the time Sandra gave birth, she had surpassed the entire League in skill. She left immediately following the birth of her daughter, Cassandra Cain, rechristening herself Lady Shiva.
Other stories would suggest that at some points afterwords. Shiva worked as a member of the League. Eyewitness testimony from former League member Onyx indicates that she kept in contact with the League, although she apparently did not see her daughter. Although most of her appearances over the years show her working independently, she apparently had some degree of League membership and was called upon by Ra's to "rescue" Talia during the Hush storyline.
In keeping with Ra's and Cain's plans, the League attempted to train Cassandra Cain from birth to be the ultimate assassin, unknowingly giving her the skills she would use as the hero Batgirl.
Nyssa al Ghul
After the death of Ra's, his daughter Nyssa formed a new League. Lady Shiva was recruited to serve as Sensei to this incarnation of the League with the intent that Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) would lead the warriors themselves.
Reflecting Shiva's emphasis for martial arts, the known members of Nyssa's League were all skilled in this area and included the warriors Shrike, Kitty Kumbata, Wam Wam, Joey N'Bobo, Tigris, Momotado, Krunk, White Willow, the twin warriors Los Gemelos, Ox, "Mad Dog" Cain, Alpha, and Cristos. The new League was present when Mr. Freeze's wife Nora Fries was brought back to life as the monstrous Lazara, and several members died in the resulting chaos.
Due to the conflict between their loyalty to Shiva and Nyssa and their near-worship of Batgirl as "The One Who is All," the League split at that point with Ox, White Willow, and Tigris pledging themselves to Cassandra. Several more members of the League (including all the defectors except Tigris) died when the insane "Mad Dog" went on a killing spree. It was revealed that the "Mad Dog" had been one of David Cain's early attempts to create Ra's' perfect warrior. The "Mad Dog" had been considered useless as a child since Cain's methods had driven him murderously insane, and Ra's had ordered the child be killed. However, Nyssa knew that the servant ordered to carry out this execution had instead released him into the wild, explaining how it was possible to recruit him. The "Mad Dog" was successful in killing Batgirl (who gave her life to protect the burqa-clad assassin Tigris). She was quickly restored to life in a Lazarus Pit by Shiva in order that the two could face each other in a final battle.
Although many of its members had died or defected, the League survived the Infinite Crisis, and was seen to play an important role in The Society's world-wide prison break. Throughout the aftermath, the League remained under the control of Nyssa until she was apparently killed in a car explosion. Cassandra Cain apparently took over the League as its new leader. All the members thus far seen in Cassandra's version of the League have been unnamed masked martial artists. There is debate as to whether or not Cassandra was really in charge, brainwashed by Deathstroke as she was, but she served as a powerful symbol. After she regained her senses and left the league, it splintered into several factions unsure of who to follow.
Return of Ra's Al Ghul
When Ra's Al Ghul returned, the League of Assassins once more fell under his control.
- No special notes.
- Tim Drake has estimated, based on looking at their receipts as a business, that the League of Assassins kills about 100 people every month worldwide.
- Appearances of League of Assassins (New Earth)
- Organization Gallery: League of Assassins (New Earth)
- Catalogued images featuring League of Assassins (New Earth)
Links and References
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