- I am neither a zealot nor a madman. I am a realist at least, and a futurist at best. Some do not agree. Thus, we must use whatever means neccessary to protect and preserve what mankind would pillage and rape. The world will thank us someday.
- -- Ra's al Ghul src
Ra's al Ghul is a radical international eco-terrorist who has been around 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 cabal named 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.
The unnamed child who would become Ra's al Ghul is 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 is interested in science from an early age. Unable to learn any science living as a nomad, he abandons his tribe to live in the city, where he can conduct his scientific research. He becomes a physician and marries a woman named Sora, the love of his life.
Ra's discovers the secret of the Lazarus Pit, and he saves a dying prince by lowering him into it. The prince, who is sadistic to begin with, is driven completely insane by the Lazarus Pit. He proceeds 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, declares Ra's guilty of the crime and sentences him to a slow, tortured death in a cage with Sora's corpse.
Ra's is set free by the son of an elderly blind woman, despite having failed to save her. The son feels that he owes Ra's a debt for easing his mother's suffering during her last few hours. Ra's and the son head into the desert to seek the tribe that Ra's was born into. Ra's convinces 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 is able to infect the prince with a deadly virus by sending him contaminated fabrics. When the ruler of the city comes to ask Ra's to cure the prince again, Ra's kills both him and his son. Ra's then leads his tribe to raze the city to the ground and kill all of its inhabitants. Subsequently, Ra's declares himself the "Demon's Head."
Building an Empire
Ra's spends the next several centuries journeying the world. During this time, Ra's, his uncle, and the boy are all using the Lazarus Pits to prolong their lives until an incident in London. Ra's catches the boy writing his own memoirs in their original language, of which Ra's has forbidden all records. During a battle, Ra's kills the boy and flees to a Lazarus Pit, which he uses. When he returns to their home in London, his uncle has vanished with the remnants of their historical records.
Over time, he becomes a master of many forms of combat, notably fencing. He also builds up vast wealth and creates The Demon, a vast international organization. "It has been whispered in the darkest places for 500 years that a cartel of criminals has slowly sucked its way into the rich veins of the Earth. Many are its names spit from the mouths of men, but most often it is cursed only as ...The Demon. It has a leader ... a Head." The League of Assassins, one of the many smaller organizations making up The Demon, is thus sometimes called "The Demon's Fang" or "Demonfang".
Contagion and Legacy
Ra's returns to prominence and comes dangerously close to realizing his dream of worldwide genocide in the "Contagion" story arc of the Batman titles. 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 until the events of "Legacy."
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
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 Leaguers resent the plans, they agree that the plans were created for the right reasons.
The contingency plans for the then current Leaguers are as follows:
- Green Lantern Kyle Rayner is given a hypnotic suggestion that he was blind, subconsciously tricking Kyle's mind, making it impossible to use his ring effectively.
- Martian Manhunter is infected by nanites that have magnesium in them, thus causing him to burst into flames in open air.
- Wonder Woman is shot by a Virtual reality bullet, causing her body to believe she is fighting an even, never-ending battle, from which her heart would eventually give out.
- The Flash is shot in the spine by a vibrating projectile, which causes super-speed epileptic seizures.
- Aquaman receives exposure to a fear toxin, giving him aquaphobia rendering him weak as he was terrified of the water that he needed to live.
- Plastic Man is frozen and shattered, temporarily disabling him until the Flash can piece him back together and allow him to wake up.
- Superman is exposed to a synthetic form of Kryptonite which had lasting effects on him, making his skin transparent and super-charging his powers to a degree that nearly made him explode.
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 willingly 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
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.
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.
Damian runs to the Batcave to seek help from his father, Batman, but is met instead by Robin. When Damian pleads he doesn't want to fight and that Ra's has returned, Robin doesn't believe him and they fight, leading to Robin being knocked out and Damian running into Alfred in the manor, who believes Damian's story. Robin recovers and he and Damian continue to fight while outside Ra's League of Assassins ninja surround and then infiltrate the manor. Meanwhile in Asia, Batman manages to save Talia from being held captive by League ninja and set off after Ra's al Ghul. As he does so, he radios Nightwing in New York, who uses Batman's Justice League teleport code to arrive at the Manor, taking out the Insect Girls - Tiger Moth, Dragonfly, and Silken Spider - who were hired by Talia to bring her Damian, and afterwards saves Alfred from being thrown out of a window and fighting off many ninja. Telling Alfred to prep a jet for travel to Asia, he heads into the Batcave to help Damian and Robin. During the battle, the ninja tag the Insect Girls with poison darts and Nightwing is forced to give them an antidote at the expense of leaving Robin and Damian to be taken by the ninjas. He manages to save the three women, but the poison affects their brains, never to be fully functional again.
Robin and Damian are taken to Ra's in Tibet, but then fight their way through ninja. Damian leaves Robin alone with Ra's Al Ghul who knocks Robin out after offering him a chance to bring his parents back to life. Meanwhile, outside Lhasa, Batman and Talia are getting closer to Ra's only to run into more of his henchmen, defeating them with help from I-Ching. Nightwing and Alfred arrive in Lhasa where they are met by Ubu and more league ninjas, who are quickly defeated by the duo. Batman, Talia, and I-Ching ascend a Lhasian mountain where they find a secret entrance to Ra's's headquarters. On meeting, Ra's and Batman begin to fight, but since Ra's body is already dead, nothing hurts him. He then brings out Robin and Damian, offering Batman a choice on which one's body he should take. Batman offers his own body, but Ra's refuses, craving a younger one.
Batman then offers to take Ra's to Nanda Parbat wherein lies the Fountain of Essence, much like the Lazarus Pit but with none of the dangerous after-effects. They travel there, but learn the temple is under attack by the Sensei, who is revealed as Ra's al Ghul's father, much to Batman's surprise. They manage to defeat his men, but when they fight him, Ra's is actually hurt by Sensei and he then engages Batman. The Sensei manages to break Batman's arm, blind him, and impale his chest with his cane, all in less than a minute. Batman, still determined, knocks Sensei into the Fountain of Life which kills him for not being a pure soul. The monks of Nanda Parbat check Ra's Al Ghul's body, but the spirit of Ra's possesses one monk's body and walks away. Batman, restored to full health and slightly de-aged after being soaked from the fountain, knows what Ra's has done and screams his name.
Elsewhere, Robin is still haunted by Ra's offer to restore his loved ones to life. In the midst of a battle with Ra's ninja, Robin breaks off in pursuit of the White Ghost, deciding that it is selfish of him to deny his parents and friends another chance at life. The White Ghost tells Robin that he can restore them, but only if Tim swears his undying loyalty to Ra's Al Ghul and foresakes Batman. Robin agrees, and is sent to a chamber with a Lazarus Pit to be "reborn". There he is confronted by I-Ching, who decides not to stand in his way, then Nightwing, who swears to stop him. In Nanda Parbat, Ra's new body starts rapidly decaying like the last one. As a symbol of his rebirth, he offers Batman his friendship, but is refused. Ra's retaliates by deploying his men to overpower Batman and capture Damian, who has arrived to try and help his father. Meanwhile, Talia searches for Damian only to eventually realize he is now in Nanda Parbat and Robin chooses to attack Nightwing, who evades the assault and analyzes the situation. During and in-between attacks, Robin debates with his adopted brother, as even though he only intends to collect a sample of the Pit's properties, he seems willing to ignore the moral and long-term implications of utilizing such a dangerous resource. I-Ching eventually mediates through a combination of words and violence to stop the fight, stating that Robin is seeking balance and can only achieve it by weighing his losses against what he already possesses. Nightwing allows Robin to collect the sample, hoping he is trusting his younger brother to make the right choice, which Robin does, discarding the sample and is consoled by Nightwing.
The three find Talia and rendezvous with Alfred and the jet to fly to Nanda Parbat, where Ra's is about to claim Damian's body as his vessel at last. Batman intervenes to defend his son and the two begin to defend themselves when their reinforcements arrive in time. During the battle, the League lays waste to Nanda Parbat. Talia reacquires Damian when he chooses to assist Batman over escaping with her, knocking him out and escaping. The monks are saved but choose to seal themselves off totally from outsiders. Ra's life is finally preserved by White Ghost, actually his disowned son Dusan, who offers his "imperfect" body to finally win his father's respect. Dusan does not survive the body transfer and Ra's engages Batman in a duel. He is soundly defeated but the destruction of the temple and the intervention of the monks to banish Ra's from Nanda Parbat causes all parties to retreat. Ra's al Ghul, in his new body, 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
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 reveald himself as Bruce Wayne. He was able to dissuade Ra's from killing her and Ra's left with the promise of meeting again.
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".
- 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.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced): Even without those enhancements his 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.
- Swordsmanship: He is a master swordsman, training even Batman in the ways of the blade.
- Tactical Analysis: He is a brilliant tactician, planning his exploits many months even years in advanced.
- 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 traditonal methods.
- 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 (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 that he has lived well beyond a normal human life span.
- 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)
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- ↑ Batman: Birth of the Demon (1992)
- ↑ Justice League of America #94
- ↑ 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
League of Assassins member
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This character, team or organization, is or was primarily an enemy of the Batman, or the Batman Family as a whole. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Batman Villains."