published by DC Comics
. Ra's al Ghul
was created by
and Neal Adams
and first appeared in Batman #232
Ra's al Ghul's history is somewhat sketchy, though it is known that
he is extremely old. Nearly 400 years ago, the man who would become
Ra's al Ghul was a doctor in
North Africa. Because he aided the foe of a sultan, Ra's and the
man he saved were buried alive. Ra's survived and returned to find
his wife killed by the Sultan's forces.
The man is next encountered nearly 400 years later. He now calls himself
Ra's al Ghul which means the Demon's Head. Over the years, Ra's
has acquired a large body of fanatical followers who are willing to
do his bidding. He has managed to survive four centuries through
the use of the Lazarus Pit, which contains a mixture of chemicals
and poisons that rejuvenate his body. It has also been suggested that
exposure to the pit during the years has affected Ra's mind, making
him mentally unbalanced.
Ra's Al Ghul has two goals. The first is to rule the Earth. To that end, he has a very
pragmatic way of looking at humanity, seeing them as a drain on the
Earth's ecosystem. So Ra's has often times sought to kill large portions
of the Earth's population to lessen the drain on natural resources. These
schemes have brought him time and time again into conflict with
Batman, making him one of the Caped Crusader's most dangerous and
cunning foes. Ra's is also the only Batman villain to refer to him as "Detective."
Ra's Al Ghul's other goal is to find a mate suitable for his daughter
Talia and to someone to rule when he eventually dies. Initially,
Ra's believed Batman to be that person. He discovered Batman's identity
as Bruce Wayne and kidnapped Dick Grayson, Wayne's ward. When
Batman tracked Grayson back to Ra's, he was tricked into believing that
Ra's daughter had been kidnapped as well. Batman eventually recovered
both Grayson and Talia only to discover that he had been deceived. Ra's
offered to make Batman the heir to his empire, but Batman refused. It should be noted that this did not stop Batman and Talia from developing a "relationship" the result of which was a child. As this took place in the graphic novel Batman: Son of the Demon, it may or may not be considered part of the mainstream DC universe.
Ra's tried many more times to convince Batman to join his cause, but
eventually gave up on him and sought another mate for Talia. For a time,
he believed that Bane would make a suitable groom, but later changed
his mind. He also believed that the hero Azrael was the right choice,
but again found that he had chosen wrongly.
Ra's Al Ghul has also clashed with the Justice League and nearly defeated
them by using a set of plans set up by Batman to be used to defeat the
members of the Justice League. This set up an internal conflict between
the members of the League and eventually force Batman out of the League for
a time. (see JLA Issue write-ups #43, #44, #45, and #46 for the complete story).
Thanks to Team Jet-Poop
for the invaluable research on Batman
's love child