Ra's al Ghul

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Ra's al Ghul (Latin transliteration of the Arabic Ra's al-Ghul  /رأس الغول / Raʾs al-Ġūl  / 'head of the demon'; en .: head of the demon or Demon's Head ) is the title of a series of comic books published by the US publisher DC Comics since 1986.

The Ra's al-Ghul stories describe the deeds of an Arab do-gooder and terrorist of the same name. The comics are consistently located in a mixed area of ​​the genres of science fiction / fantasy comics and adventure comics. There are also borrowings from mysticism , esotericism and occultism .

Ra's al Ghul as Batman's opponent

First appearance : Ra's al Ghul first appears in Batman # 232 "Daughter of the Demon" in June 1971 . But immediately before that, in May, his daughter Talia mentions him in Detective Comics # 411. Ra's al Ghul uses what is known as a pit of Lazarus to continuously extend his life, but according to his own statement he has already done this too often, and soon this will no longer be able to extend his life ("The Pit of Lazarus"). In addition, Ra's al Ghul has no supernatural powers or abilities. However, he is considered a genius and an entire organization is under his control.

Ra's al Ghul and Batman: The relationship between Ra's al Ghul and Batman is different: In Denny O'Neil's stories from 1971 and 1972, he does not seek a confrontation with Batman, but only subjects him to a series of tests because - as he says - his daughter Talia loves him and he wants Batman as his son-in-law and successor ("Daughter of the Demon"). In Len Wein's 5-part Bat-killer story, he fabricates his own murder and that of his daughter, and tries to blame Batman in order to drive him into his arms. Then in 1978, in O'Neil's "I Declare You Batman and Wife" (Batman Spectacular), he declares Batman and Talia husband and wife. However, once Batman has recognized Ra's al Ghul's criminal nature, he sees him solely as a criminal and enemy.

Talia and Batman: Talia keeps emphasizing that she loves Batman and also saves his life several times. Batman is also not averse to her. In The Demon Lives he kisses her goodbye passionately and spares her punishment, and in Bat-Murderer he explains to Police Chief Gordon: “Why should I have killed her? I loved Talia. "

In contrast to most of Batman's other opponents, Ra's al Ghul is also clearly a criminal, but he does not necessarily see Batman as an arch enemy, but also as a desired son-in-law and successor. Often he tries to show him the futility of his actions; that Gotham can no longer be saved and must go under. Talia's relationship with Batman is, similar to Catwoman , both criminal and romantic.

Denny O'Neil wrote the following eight Ra's al-Ghoul stories in 1971 and 1972:

  1. In the Clutches of the Killer Gang ( Detective Comics # 411, May 1971)
  2. Daughter of the Demon ( Batman # 232, June 1971)
  3. Swamp of Sin ( Batman # 235, Sep 1971)
  4. Revenge for a Dead ( Batman # 240, March 1972)
  5. Bruce Wayne RIP ( Batman # 242, June 1972)
  6. The Lazarus Pit ( Batman # 243, July 1972)
  7. The Demon Lives ( Batman # 244, September 1972)
  8. The Bruce Wayne Murder Case ( Batman # 245, October 1972)

As a draftsman stood by his side: Bob Brown (1st story), Neal Adams (2nd and 6th to 8th story), Irv Novick (3rd to 5th story). The ink revisions of all stories were done by Dick Giordano . German translations can be found in the series Batman Klassik (all 8 stories) by Hethke, as well as in Ehapa's Ehapa Superband # 10 (4 of the 8 stories).

The author Len Wein wrote the following five stories in 1974/75, which form a closed story arc:

  1. Bat Killer ( Detective Comics # 444, December 1974)
  2. Burglary of the penitentiary ( Detective Comics # 445, February 1975)
  3. The Killer in Silver ( Detective Comics # 445, April 1975)
  4. Enter: The Creeper (no German title available) ( Detective Comics # 447 , May 1975)
  5. In the Manege of Death ( Detective Comics # 448, May 1976)

Stories 1 to 3 were drawn and inked by Jim Aparo , while stories 4 and 5 were designed by Ernie Chua and Dick Giordano. A German translation of stories 1 to 5 was presented by Ehapa in the comic book Batman Superband # 3 in the 1970s .

Ra's al Ghul as an independent figure

After the character Ra's al Ghul aroused increasing interest among readers over time, DC finally began producing stories in the mid-1980s that focused on the Batman supporting character. The first comic with al Ghul as the main character was the graphic novel (also: Graphic Novel) Son of the Demon, published in September 1987 , in which the Batman character himself only appears as a minor character.

This was followed by numerous graphic novels and mini-series, which appeared either under the title Ra's al Ghul or The Demon . These include the graphic novels Bride of the Demon (December 1990) and Birth of the Demon (December 1992) as well as the miniseries Bane of the Demon (1996), Death and the Maidens (2003) and Ra's al Ghul: Year One (2005). Tales of the Demon, on the other hand, is just a US anthology (Tradepaperback), which summarizes the first appearances of Ra's al Ghul from the early 70s. The US publisher largely relied on an earlier reprint series entitled The Saga of Ra's al Ghul , which was published in this country by Norbert Hethke-Verlag as No. 1–4 of the Batman Klassik series .

In addition to al Ghul's creator Dennis O'Neil (Birth of the Demon, Tales of the Demon), the science fiction writer Mike W. Barr (Son of the Demon), the crime writer Greg Rucka (Death and the Maidens) acted as authors. , as well as comic veterans Chuck Dixon (Bane of the Demon) and Devin Grayson (Ra's al Ghul: Year One). The illustrators who collaborated on these works include Norm Breyfogle (Birth of the Demon), Klaus Janson (Death and the Maidens) and Graham Nolan (Bane of the Demon).

Plot and main character

The title hero of the "al-Ghul" comics, Ra's al Ghul is a more than seven hundred year old Arab who has succeeded with the help of a magical ritual until the present of the 20th and 21st centuries. Survive century. His mysterious rejuvenation cures also allow al Ghul to maintain his youth.

Al Ghul owes its name - ghul is the Arabic word for "demon" - to the fact that his enemies assume that he owes the gift of immortality to an ominous pact with hell.

While al Ghul spends the first centuries of his life wandering the earth and getting to the bottom of its secrets, in later centuries he becomes a fanatic permeated by the idea of ​​his own "mission". From now on, his goal is to cleanse the earth of the “disease of human civilization” and to return it to its “natural, original state”. It is implied that his radical and more aggressive demeanor is a late consequence of frequent use of the Lazarus Pit, which usually causes temporal madness .

In the first Ra's al Ghul stories that were told within the Batman comic series , "The Demon" initially appeared as the leader of a sect-like , with whom the hero of the Batman comics, the masked "Avenger Night “and criminal hunter Batman, got to do it multiple times. The author of the first of these stories and the creator of the character Ra's al Ghul and the plot scenario surrounding the character was the writer Dennis O'Neil . The optical designs for al Ghul and his most important helpers (Talia, Ubu, Sensei and others) were developed by the draftsman Neal Adams , whose concepts have essentially remained unchanged to this day. The first al Ghul story finally appeared in Batman # 232, dated June 1971.

Al Ghul's history of origin was only revealed in 1992 in the volume Birth of the Demon : There you learn that al Ghul grew up as the son of a Bedouin family on the Arabian Peninsula. During one of his journeys through an unspecified desert in this area, he finally discovered the so-called Lazarus Pit , an ancient ritual site that gave those who bathed in it a longer life and new youth.

By regularly using this pit, al Ghul was able to stop the natural aging process of his body and thus to rejuvenate himself physically several times, to freeze his physical youthfulness, as it were: As a result, it was possible for him to survive into the present day of the 21st century. His age is given in different stories with different numbers: According to some stories he is around 1000 years old, others determine his age to "only" 500 years ("Birth of the Demon") and one story even put al Ghul's age on extremely precisely 448 to 453 years (“Angel and the Demon”): His birth dates back to the 10th or 15th century.

Since his first appearance, Ra's al Ghul has been wearing a long dark green cloak with a large sash and a normal suit underneath. Most often the color of the tie varies. However, depending on the situation, he also changes to combat suit or other clothing.


The Ra's al Ghul story has been adapted several times for other media in the past: al Ghul's story of origin was retold in a double episode of the animated series Batman: The Animated Series . Furthermore, al Ghul appeared as an adversary of the title hero in the series The New Batman Adventures , Batman Beyond and Superman: The Animated Series .

The video game Dark Tomorrow , released in 2003, is about a plan by al Ghuls to depopulate the world, which Batman, as the controllable character of the game, has to thwart.

In addition, al Ghul appeared in 2011 in Batman: Arkham City developed by Rocksteady Studios as the antagonist of the dark knight.

In 2005, Ra's al Ghul was finally incorporated as the main villain in the movie Batman Begins by Christopher Nolan . Here al Ghul, played by the Japanese actor Ken Watanabe , first appears in the well-known manner as the leader of the League of Killers (which is called the "Society of Shadows" here). One of the members of the league is a man named Henri Ducard ( Liam Neeson ). At the end of Batman Begins it turns out that Ducard is actually al Ghul, while the character played by Watanabe is just one of his subordinates, who pretended to be al Ghul for purposes of deception. Al Ghul's plan to use terrorist methods to reshape the world in his favor is thwarted at the end of the film by Batman, who, after a bitter duel for life and death, can defeat al Ghul in a furious monorail train and leaves him to his fate when the train derails and explodes. In The Dark Knight Rises , al Ghul reappears in flashbacks.

Furthermore, Ra's al Ghul (and with him the League of Assassins) is portrayed as an antagonist in the television series Arrow .

In the crime series Gotham , Ra's al Ghul appears as one of the most influential villains, played by Alexander Siddig . During the first seasons of the series, he and his League of Shadows only act covertly from the background, including by the Council of Owls, a secret society in Gotham City. Ra's al Ghul does not appear in person until the end of the third season and tries from now on to win the young Bruce Wayne on his side. In the season four finale, Ra's teams up with Jeremiah Valeska to throw Gotham into chaos with a series of bombings. Although this succeeds, Ra's al Ghul is ultimately stabbed to death by Bruce and Barbara Kean with a cursed dagger. In season five, his daughter Nyssa al Ghul tries to avenge her father's death as the new leader of the league.

Recurring minor characters

Below is a brief overview of characters who frequently appeared in the publications on Ra's al Ghul:

  • Batman
  • Bronze Tiger , aka Ben Turner, is an assassin who originally belonged to the League of Killers founded by Ra's al Ghul, but who later turned away from it and became one of its worst enemies. The character first appeared in the1974novel Dragon's Fist by Dennis O'Neil and Jim Berry. As a comic figure, the bronze tiger first appeared in the comic series Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter written by O'Neil, in whose issue # 1 of April 1975 he was given his visual appearance by the illustrator Leo Duranona.
  • David Cain is a professional killer who works for Ra's occasionally. He first appears in Batman # 567 from July 1999 (author: K.Puckett, illustrator: D. Scott).
  • Doctor Ebeneezer Darrk (Doctor Darrk) is an opponent of Ra's al Ghul, who is featured in Detective Comics # 406 of December 1970 (author: D. O'Neil, illustrator: B. Brown). Talia, the daughter of al Ghul, later kills him.
  • Doctor Harris Moon is an accomplice to Ra's al Ghul who first appears in Batman # 240 from 1972 (author: D. O'Neil, illustrator: I. Novick).
  • Kyle Abbot and Whisper A'Daire are two servants of Ra's al Ghul who act as its permanent agents overseas. Both made their debut in Detective Comics # 743, April 2000 (author. Greg Rucka). As al Ghul's agents, A'Daire, an enigmatic femme fatale, and her partner (officially her bodyguard) Abbot travel the world to fulfill her master's orders. Whisper takes on the overriding role of the thinker and decision maker, while Abbot - who is loyal to Whisper in uncompromising love - handles the hard-edged parts of her missions as her bodyguard and "man for the rough".
  • The League of Killer (Engl. The League of Assassins ) is a sub-organization of Ra's al Ghul's criminal empire The Demon . The organization was created several years before al Ghul first appeared in Strange Adventures # 215 in November 1968 in 1972 (author: Denny O'Neil, illustrator: Neal Adams).
In the movie Batman Begins from 2005 numerous nameless members of the league appear who support Ra's as henchmen in his plan to destroy Gotham City as a " den of sin of civilization". The league is referred to here as the Society of Shadows (English League of Shadows ). At the beginning of the film, the young Bruce Wayne joins society for training in his fight against crime, but eventually breaks up with her to become Batman and stand up against crime in his hometown. At the end of the film, the Shadow Society returns and is defeated by Batman. In the animated series Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond , the members of the league appear again as al Ghul's henchmen.
  • Mad Dog is a hit man in the service of Ra's al Ghul's League of Killers. He first appears in Batgirl # 67 from October 2005 (author: A. Gabrych, illustrator: A. Garza).
  • Merlyn (Merlyn the Archer, Merlyn the Magician), aka Arthur King, is an assassin belonging to the Ra's al Ghuls League of Killers. Merlyn, a masterful archer first featured in Justice League of America # 94 from November 1971 (author: M. Friedrich, illustrator: D. Dillin), is a professional killer who regularly deals with heroes like Batman on behalf of al Ghul or Green Arrow creates.
  • Nyssa Raatko (Arabic: نيسا رعتكو) is the eldest daughter of Ra's al Ghul. She was first featured in the 2003 mini-series Death and the Maidens (author: G. Rucka, illustrator: K. Janson).
  • Known only by his title as Sensei , the man (Japanese: Sensei = "teacher") was at times the leader of the killer gang, the League of Killers, founded by Ra's al Ghul . The sensei - who optically corresponds to the cliché of an aged Far Eastern martial arts master with a goatee and white hair - made his debut in Strange Adventures # 215 October 1968 (author and illustrator: Neal Adams).
  • Shrike
  • Talia Head (in German "Talia head") is the favorite daughter of Ra's al Ghul. She has replaced her family name Ra's (Arabic for “head”) with the English equivalent “Head” since she began a career as a manager in the United States (“Head” also means “head”). Her first name is borrowed from Greek mythology and means something like "the blooming one" - an allusion to Talia's "blooming beauty". She made her debut in Detective Comics # 411, May 1971, in the story Into the Den of the Death-Dealers! (Author: Dennis O'Neil, Artist: Bob Brown). Talia is one of the most ambivalent characters in the "al Ghul" and "Batman" series because she cannot be tied to either side.
  • Ubu is the name of the bodyguard and assistant to Ra's al Ghul. The character was first featured in Batman # 233 from 1971 (Author: D. O'Neil, Illustrator: N. Adams). Strictly speaking, Ubu is not an individual, but just the "official title" of Ra's bodyguard, who often changes as a person.
  • Whisper D'Adaire
  • Lady Shiva , aka Sandra Woosan (or Sandra Wu-San) is an American mercenary of unclear Asian descent who, as a member of the terrorist organization League of Killers, is in the service of Ra's al Ghul as the leader of the league. As a hired murderer, Shiva carries out assassinations for the league (Shiva, literally "the benevolent", in Hinduism stands for the divine principle of destruction and renewal). The character made his debut in the martial arts comic series Richard Dragon: Master of the Kung Fu # 5 from December 1975 (Author: Dennis O'Neil, Illustrator: Ric Estrada). Within the DC universe, in which the stories about al Ghul and Batman take place, Shiva is considered to be one of the best martial artists and "deadliest woman in the world". Sung Hi Lee played Shiva in the American TV series Birds of Prey .
  • Arrow , aka Oliver Queen, is a superhero from the fictional city of Starling City. In the series of the same name, Oliver is repeatedly associated with the League of Assassins, more specifically with Ra's al Ghul and his daughter Nyssa.


American editions

  • Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham: Son of the Demon (1987).
  • Dennis O'Neil / Neal Adams et al .: Tales of the Demon TPB (1991).
  • Mike W. Barr and Tom Grindberg: Bride of the Demon (1990),
  • Dennis O´Neil and Norman Breyfogle: Birth of the Demon (1992),
  • Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan: Bane of the Demon (1997).
  • Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson: Death and the Maidens (2004), ISBN 1-4012-0234-9 .
  • Devin Grayson and Paul Gulacy: Year One: Ra's al Ghul (2005).

German editions

  • Batman Superband # 3, Ehapa Verlag, 1978.
  • Batman Superband # 10, Ehapa Verlag, 1980.
  • Batman classic. The saga of Ra's al Ghul # 1-4, Norbert Hethke Verlag, 1990.
  • Batman: Neal Adams Collection , Panini Verlag, 2003.


  1. The name is an allusion to the biblical figure of St. Lazarus of Bethany
  2. This is a clear deviation from the comic model: In this one, Ducard is not a camouflage identity of al Ghul, but a separate character
  3. Cain is a speaking name: It alludes to Cain, who, according to the Old Testament, was the first murderer in human history.