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A villain published by DC Comics. Ra's al Ghul was created by Denny O'Neal and Neal Adams and first appeared in Batman #232 in 1971.

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.

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