June 01, 2017 13 min read

Ra's Al Ghul is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Dennis O'Neiland Neal Adamsand first appeared in Batman #232(June 1971). The character is one of Batman's most enduring enemies and belongs to the collective of adversaries that make up Batman's rogues gallery. Given Ra's al Ghul's high status as a supervillain, he also comes into conflict with other superheroes in the DC Universe.

Most notable as the leader of the League of Assassins, Ra's al Ghul's name in Arabic translates to "The Demon's Head". He is the son of Sensei, the father of Talia al Ghul, Nyssa Raatko, and Dusan al Ghul, and the grandfather of Damian Wayne. Stories featuring Ra's al Ghul often involve the Lazarus Pits, which restore life to the dying. The Lazarus Pits have kept Ra's alive for centuries, making him particularly dangerous as he has honed his combat skills for a millennia.

Publication History(1)

Created by writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams, he was introduced in Batman #232's "Daughter of the Demon" (June 1971). The character's creation and depiction was inspired by other works of fiction, such as the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and the Fu Manchu fiction. The Bond film has international crime lord Draco wanting the agent to marry his daughter Contessa Teresa. Another visual antecedent for Ra's al Ghul and his daughter Talia are found in Saloud (actor James Lanphier) and Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale) in the 1963 film The Pink Panther.

 

 

Fictional Character Biography(2)

The unnamed child who would become Ra's al Ghul 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 becoame 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, declares 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."

Building an Empire

Ra's spendt 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 catched 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 known as "The Demon", 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". His empire continued growing for centuries and eventually, he had an offspring; a daughter he called Talia.

Meeting Batman

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 this developments, Ra's became aware of the impact that Batman have had on his daughter.

Enter the Demon

Enter the Demon

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 did 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 answered 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 traveled 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.

Duel to the DeathIt 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 traveled 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.

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

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.

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.

Resurrection

Batman Annual 26Talia 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.

Shortly after, Ra's commanded the White Ghost to follow Michael Lane's activities after he became the owner of the Suit of Sorrows.

Journey with Red Robin

Ra's later shows interest in the Red Robin's journey for the then-deceased Batman.

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.

31st Century

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".

The New 52

Ra's al Ghul is the founder of the League of Assassins, an organization of deadly warriors that he used to achieve his goal of ridding the world of evil. Ra's eventually became affiliated with an organization called the Untitled. Ra's al ghul built his city, Eth'Alth'Eban, over the Untitled's Well of Sins, which was the first form of a Lazarus Pit. Through the Well, Ra's managed to create his own Pit, allowing him to live for hundreds of years.

Deal with the All-Caste

Ra's al Ghul approached an organization called the All-Caste, to create a working relationship with the League of Assassins. Through the All Caste, the League gained a connection with the Untitled, an enemy organization of the All-Caste. As part of their deal, the League asked the All-Caste to train Jason Todd. Ra's eventually betrayed the All-Caste, and shortly after, the All-Caste was killed off by the Unitiled.

Powers and Abilities(3)

Due to his expanded life span, Ra's has accumulated a vast knowledge of hand-to-hand combat, chemistry, detective artistry, physics, and martial arts (all of which rival that of Batman). He has also gained many international contacts and a vast fortune over the course of centuries. When in combat, he favors more ancient weaponry (as he has had more time to utilize them than more modern weaponry). These weapons include scimitars, katana, bolas, throwing stars (shuriken), smoke pellets, and miniaturized explosives. Ra's is also assisted by his devoted, musclebound servant Ubu.

Ra's' greatest tools are his Lazarus Pits, which will heal him of any injury (even if he is recently deceased) while restoring him back to his prime of life. His constant exposure to the pits have granted him slightly enhanced endurance, strength, and healing but also comes with the price of a gradual onset of insanity if overused.

Along with his physical abilities and resources, Ra's Al Ghul has been shown to possess a certain degree of proficiency with mysticism. In an effort to guarantee his continued existence, he has on several occasions demonstrated the ability to transfer his soul into the bodies of others, giving him a way to live on in the event that his physical body is destroyed and unable to be transported into a Lazarus Pit. The exact details of this process have remained inconsistent; at times it appears as though a complicated ritual is required to achieve this effect, while on other occasions he is capable of performing this feat on a whim, merely by making physical contact with his intended host.

Supporting Characters

Allies

Ra's Al Ghul has allies including his daughter Talia and the entire League of Assasins. He doesn't have any other allies since he chooses to work alone.

Enemies

Ra's Al Ghul has a number of enemies including Batman, Nightwing, Red Hood, Red Robin, Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman, Huntress, Superman and many more.

 

 

 

 

 

Movie(s)

Batman Begins(2005)

Batman Begins was directed by Christopher Nolan and starred Christian Bale as Batman,Liam Neeson as Rah's Al Ghul,Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes,Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow,Micheal Caine as Alfred Pennyworth and Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon . Nolan went for a more dark and realistic approach with the movie and used scale models and props with minimum CGI. The movie had a good response and performed well at the box office.

You can check out the trailer here

Notable Comics(4)

Comics Writer(s) Artist(s)
Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul Grant Morrison, Paul Dini Tony S. Daniel, Jonathan Glapion, Guy Major
Year One: Batman/Ra's al Ghul Devin Grayson Paul Gulacy, Jimmy Palmiotti, Laurie Kronenberg
Batman: Bane Of The Demon Chuck Dixon Graham Nolan, Tom Palmer, Noelle Giddings
Batman: Legacy Alan Grant, Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench Dave Taylor, Graham Nolan, Jim Aparo, Jim Balent, Staz Johnson
JLA: Tower Of Babel Mark Waid Howard Poter, Drew Garraci, Pat Garrahy

 

You can check out our Ra's Al Ghul products here

Sources

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ra's_al_Ghul#Publication_history

2.http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Ra's_al_Ghul

3.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ra's_al_Ghul#Powers.2C_abilities.2C_and_weapons

4.http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Ra's_al_Ghul_Recommended_Reading


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