"No one can save Gotham. When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural. Tomorrow, the world will watch in horror as its greatest city destroys itself. The movement back to harmony will be unstoppable this time."
Ra's al Ghul (Arabic رأس الغول Raʾs al-Ghūl, "Demon's Head") is the legendary leader of the League of Assassins. Having lived over a course of 600 years thanks to the use of the Lazarus Pits, Ra's al Ghul has instilled his version of justice on the world for centuries. He exists to purge the world of evil, though does so through death and destruction, believing the laws established by the corruption of mankind are flawed. Seeing suffering and injustice across the world despite man's best efforts, Ra's has sworn himself to purge the world of evil through whatever means necessary, even through murder and violence to bring a sense of palance. He is the father of Talia al Ghul and Nyssa Raatko.
Ra's al Ghul's real name, early life, and exact age is unknown. His origin shrouded in mystery, Ra's does indeed have some validity in his claim to be centuries old, with evidence across history placing him in important places and events.
Ra's al Ghul was born over 600 years before his first appearance in modern history, to a Bedouin tribe of nomads in a desert somewhere in Arabia, near a city whose inhabitants' ancestors had journeyed to the Arabian Peninsula from Morocco. Developing an interest in science at an early age, Ra's abandoned his tribe to live in the city where he pursued life as a researcher. He subsequently became a physician and married a woman named Sora.
Ra's discovered 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, on whom he has already had his eye for some time. The sultan, unwilling to admit to himself his son's culpability, declares Ra's guilty of the crime and sentences him to a slow, torturous death in a cage with Sora's corpse.
Ra's is set free by the son of a dying elderly woman, who Ra's had earlier examined. 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 of Ra's' birth. 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 sultan. 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 sultan 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 "Ra's al Ghul", the "Demon's Head".
Rise to PowerEdit
Using the Lazarus Pits to extend his life, Ra's spends the next several centuries journeying the world. He fights in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, becoming a formidable warrior. As the world entered the modern age and industrialization began to cover much of the Earth, Ra's grew to despise the humans who he believed were destroying the world's natural beauty, thus setting him on a path of eco-terrorism. Also during this time, Ra's, his uncle, and the boy who freed him from the sultan 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.
Some sources claim Ra's al Ghul had a hand in the founding of Gotham City. Others say he did not create Gotham, but merely helped in its development.
Discovering the Black WidowEdit
During Natasha Romanoff's extensive stay in Gotham City while going after those who had set a hefty bounty on her, Ra's al Ghul became aware of her presence and sent one of his followers, Shiva, to find the Widow and test the supposed threat that she was. Upon learning from Shiva that Natasha was indeed a highly trained spy, assassin, and worthy combatant who had additionally thrown off several of Gotham's notorious criminals and personally defeated a few of them alone, Ra's set his assassins to pursue her.
Having ordered the assassins to silently stalk the Widow and observe her actions, and either capture her when the opportunity presented itself or direct her to the League's hideout, Ra's al Ghul simply waited for Natasha's arrival while directing the League to fulfill his other goals.
The Black Widow finds the LeagueEdit
Eventually, Natasha found her way to the League of Assassin's underground hideout by accident following an escape from the Ratcatcher's attempt to kill her while defending his territory. Ra's al Ghul remained in hiding within his chambers while directing his emissary, Henri Ducard, to pose as the leader of the League and test Natasha for potential usefulness. Ra's observed from the shadows as Ducard decreed that Natasha was worthy of being made a member of the League of Assassins following their sparring session; this allowed Ra's to keep an even closer eye on the spy.
Ultimately, however, it would not take long before Natasha began to displease Ra's with her actions, starting with her attempting to infiltrate the League to gain information on them and what they were doing in Gotham City. Her incredible effectiveness was coupled with her persuasiveness and success in seducing first Ra's most prized daughter, Talia al Ghul, to bed, and then his other daughter Nyssa Raatko. While it is unknown at this time whether Ra's is aware or bothered by the incident with Talia, Ra's grew quite frustrated and angry with what Natasha did to Nyssa, sending Ducard to reprimand them both and warning them to cease the activity or suffer terrible consequences.
This did not sit well with Natasha, who opposed Ducard's supposed moral restrictions and openly defied the rules placed on the League. This would eventually lead to conflict within the League, centered around Natasha who had some effectiveness in persuading Nyssa to reconsider her life in the League. Despite this, however, Nyssa feared her father's wrath and warned Natasha to stop, begging her to reconsider her actions and embracing the isolation brought upon her by Ducard's discovery and the subsequent dishonor from her fellow assassins.
Skirmish in the LeagueEdit
Soon, the animosity around Natasha reached a breaking point when she did not stop the activity, trying to continue seeing Nyssa in secret. Natasha's efforts were easily seen despite her stealthiness and concealment, which brought Ra's al Ghul to order Ducard to have Natasha killed. Natasha, however, was able to defend herself, disabling the assassins sent to quietly dispose of her and managing to eliminate the others that came at her openly.
When Natasha was confronted by Ducard in the main hall of the hideout, a lengthy engagement between the two commenced. After she managed to defeat Ducard, Ra's directed Talia al Ghul to confront Natasha, with his new order that he had banished Natasha from the League, meaning that she was to be put to death immediately. Ra's was then surprised at Natasha's ability to hold off against Talia for more than a few seconds; in despiration, several dozen other assassins came to Talia's aid, forcing Natasha to quickly flee the lair with several assassins in pursuit.
Aftermath of the Widow's EscapeEdit
After the pursuing assassins returned, unable to track Natasha's location, Ra's emerged from his chamber and confronted Ducard and Talia for their failures. He then returned to his usual scheming and preparation, adding Natasha to his list of enemies and keeping an eye out for her as he continued his plot to destroy Gotham.
Thanks to a new deal between Natasha and Mephisto, the League of Assassins has come under the Black Widow's control, with Natasha usurping the leadership from Ra's al Ghul. It is unknown what happened to Ra's or what his confirmed fate is; all that is known is that he, and all of his loyal followers have vanished. He, Ducard, Talia, and any members that did not betray their vow to Ra's having disappeared, those that chose to remain in the League under new leadership, with new rules and policies, include Shiva, who has been sent out to find Nyssa and return her to the League so that she and Natasha can be together again.
Ra's al Ghul is the wise and enigmatic leader of the League of Assassins. His hatred of the criminal underworld was extensive, far exceeding that of a typical eco-terrorist as he believed that the mass eradication of the population of entire cities was beneficial for the world. Even though he was far from a decent man, Ra's did indeed possess conviction behind his goals. He also thrusts his beliefs onto his soldiers, whom dedicate their lives to Ra's and his cause through his charisma; however, he is in reality a ruthless, fearsome, and intensely determined extremist and zealot.
He does seem to possess some honor in spite of his ruthlessness and zealotry, however it is extremely twisted and he does not have an ounce of compassion or morality which extends even to his own henchman, shown when he outright kills his assassins whenever they fail. Ra's is extremely stubborn and uncompromising in his goals. He looks down on Batman for his no-killing rule, even though the two share the same goals; he believes his methods are more efficient and deems him a fool otherwise. Yet in contrast of this, Ra's is equally determined in making Batman his successor, ignoring that he always defies his offer and once even used his daughter as blackmail to force him to take charge. His authority complex and self-righteousness lead him to believe that despite his unconscionable methods his crusade is still just and for the good of humanity.
Despite his cold and calculating nature, Ra's did seem to love his daughters. However, he seems to hold Talia with greater favor than Nyssa, whom he looks down upon and does not care so much for. There are several reasons for this, stemming from her lesser skill and physical capabilities than Talia, as well as especially her emerging orientation for other women which he sees as an abomination. However, Ra's also demonstrated his willingness to kill either of his daughters if they went against him. He was prepared to do anything to fulfill his mission first, and would not hesitate to kill one or both of them if he felt the need to.
No one alive outside the League of Assassins, aside from Batman and his closest allies, have seen Ra's al Ghul. There are various beliefs and depictions as to his personal appearance, but most sources agree on the fact that he is a man in his 50's with a goatee, with hair stemming downwards from either side of his chin.
For those that have seen his true appearance, they remember that Ra's does indeed appear to be a mere 40-50 years old, yet seem to feel the evilness stemming from his spirit and the centuries he has lived just by being in his presence. He has fair caucasian skin, black hair with silver-grey side-streams, a similar coloration for his characteristic goatee, and green eyes. Some have noticed at times that his eyes, a usual human-like tone, appear to sickly glow with a strange, ethereal energy. He sometimes shows off his muscular form with more revealing outfits, which displays the dragon tattoos on his arms, chest, and back.
Ra's al Ghul wears a variety of different outfits depending on the situation. Though rare, when out in public Ra's typically favors elaborate and expensive suits of dark green colors that shows off his wealth, position, and seems to augment his presence. He sometimes adds a cloak to this suit, which is green with gold trimmings and has a characteristically high collar with gold clasps. While at his home, he is almost always seen with flowing robes of green and black colors highlighted with gold, loose and easy in the comforts of his home. Whenever he is forced into combat, Ra's may choose to don a suit of armor, similar to a medieval knight which has plates of metal protecting his body and showing off his physique.
Due to his elusive nature, Ra's is a master of disguise, and has no qualms assuming any outfit to suit his needs. He has robes in all sorts of colors and fabrics to portray himself throughout various cultures, and also has a Ninja costume as well.
Powers/AbilitiesEditAside from his use of the Lazarus Pits, Ra's al Ghul possesses basic supernatural powers. He is a highly trained, incredibly intellectual human being, trained at the top performance of human capability with a vast array of combat skills, mental disciplines, educational learnings, and vast economical wealth.
Thanks to the use of the Lazarus Pits over the centuries, Ra's al Ghul has acquired increased performance levels in all his basic physical attributes, including:
- Superhuman Strength
- Superhuman Speed
- Superhuman Agility
- Superhuman Durability
- Superhuman Regeneration
- Superhuman Reaction
- Superhuman Endurance
- Virtual Immortality
Additionally, the use of the Lazarus Pits has expanded his intelligence, allowing Ra's to retain memory and learn better than most other humans. It also improves his charismatic presence, enabling him to be very persuasive and intimidating to potential allies and enemies, respectively.