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Comic Book: Lady Shiva

Lady Shiva is a DC Comics character created in the short-lived Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Master series in 1976 (notably, during the kung-fu craze kicked off by the popularity of Bruce Lee). She was an archetypical Dragon Lady, complete with sinister motivations and exotic sex appeal. From the start, she was set up as Richard's rival in martial arts ability, and the two even teamed up from time to time. Usually, however, she works as a Professional Killer, selling her fighting skills to the highest bidder. She's not in it for the money, though—she simply enjoys battle.

Lady Shiva is best known for her reputation as the single greatest martial artist in the DC Universe, in terms of pure skill. Other masters, such as Batman, Nightwing, Black Canary, and others, are usually depicted as being inferior to her on equal terms. But while Shiva craves a fair fight against a Worthy Opponent, most crimefighters encounter her as an obstacle hired by the current Arc Villain, whereupon they have to figure out a way to deal with her without being lured into a fair duel. Despite her abilities, she has been defeated on several occasions by numerous characters, but almost always with some kind of Hand Wave to explain it.

Though she began as the Arch-Nemesis of the aforementioned Richard Dragon, she is FAR more famous than he ever became, and thus is more known as the antagonist of Batman, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, and the Birds of Prey. She's developed into something of a Noble Demon, showing Villain Respect to characters whom she thinks may be able to succeed her as the top fighter in the DCU. She's usually willing to train anyone (hero and villain alike) on the condition that a year or so later, they hone their skills and face her in a fair Duel to the Death.

Later stories also revealed Shiva to be the biological mother of Cassandra Cain, to whom she passed not only her fighting ability, but Shiva's "instincts" and insight to read body language and fight with speed and precision. Thanks to her "upbringing" by her father, Cassandra is capable of using this ability on a level beyond what a human should be capable of. This greatly pleases Shiva, as she sees her own biological daughter as the natural choice to be her heir. Having defeated Shiva twice, Cassandra has largely supplanted her in being considered the DCU's strongest martial artist, although Shiva still has the title on a technicality. (Cassandra has adopted Batman's code against killing.)

During DC's One Year Later event, Shiva and Black Canary switched places for a time, with Shiva using the Code Name "Jade Canary". Since then, she's made several turns from villain to anti-hero and back again.

After DC's 2011 reboot into the New 52, there is little known about Shiva's status in the new continuity, other than a brief appearance opposite Nightwing.

Shiva made an appearance as an optional side-boss in Batman: Arkham Origins as one of the eight assassins hired by Black Mask to kill Batman.

Tropes Associated with Lady Shiva

  • The Ace: As stated above, she's considered the single greatest martial artist in the DC Universe, in terms of pure skill. Only Richard Dragon can be considered her equal, and only her daughter, Cassandra Cain, is considered overall superior.
  • Affably Evil: If you're a Worthy Opponent. Faux Affably Evil to everyone else.
  • A God Am I: Not by Shiva herself, but there's a cult that worships her as a goddess. She finds them sometimes quaint, sometimes annoying, and often useful as Cannon Fodder.
    • In The Question #27, Charlie literally prays to her for help on the streets of Hub City.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Probably the most infamous example in the DC Universe, thanks to the Bruce Lee craze of The Seventies.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: What caused her Start of Darkness.
  • Anti-Hero: From time to time.
  • Anti-Villain: She has a personal code, a sense of honor, and a warped sense of loyalty.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: During her final duel with Richard Dragon, Richard had finally managed to corner her and was poised to deliver his signature attack, the Leopard Blow (which is fatal). One of Shiva's goons saved her life, and the angry Shiva felt insulted and killed the intruder. She and Richard resumed their duel, and this time she won (killing him). She was very upset that their final duel ended this way, when Richard technically should have been the winner.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Has a deep superiority complex due to her mastery of martial arts. She can be very amiable to someone she considers an equal, though.
  • Asian Baby Mama: Inverted. She knew of the pregnancy and childbirth, but David Cain walked off with her daughter at birth while she went about her own business for 17 years before laying eyes on her again.
  • Badass
  • Blood Knight: The only thing she cares about is finding a Worthy Opponent that will one day defeat and succeed her.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Claims she cannot kill anyone unless "they permit [her] to" and despite a general disdain for people, she shows unabashed respect for those who are good at their jobs, whatever they may be.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: During the "Public Enemies" storyarc in Superman/Batman, Shiva is one of several villains to show up to fight the Duo. She's defeated rather easily by Batman, and this is later explained by her being mind-controlled by Gorilla Grodd.
  • Breakout Villain: More people have likely heard of her than Richard Dragon.
  • But Not Too Foreign: She's Asian, but grew up in Detroit.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: She and her sister were born with this ability, which is what makes her a natural genius at martial arts. This gift was also passed along to her daughter Cassandra, and David Cain enhanced it through an abusive Training from Hell.
  • The Corrupter:
    • David Cain was this for her, murdering her sister to Teach Her Anger, and awaken the Blood Knight within.
    • In turn, she herself attempts this for several other characters, when she feels like their morals are holding them back from their true potential.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: When David murdered her sister, Carolyn.
  • Dark Action Girl: One of the best examples in the DC Universe.
  • Dark Is Evil: When she's not wearing green, she's typically clad in black.
  • Death Seeker: Was portrayed as one when she battled Cassandra in their final duel.
  • The Dreaded: Not even Batman is fond of facing her in a fight.
  • Dragon Lady: Asian, sinister, exotic, and sexy.
  • Evil Mentor: To several characters, such as Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain and even Batman himself.
  • Fair Play Villain: As stated, what she really wants more than anything is a fair fight against someone on her level.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Somewhat to Richard Dragon.
    • But very much this toward Black Canary...and Shiva doesn't like it, because Black Canary is trying to use it to reform her.
  • The Gift: Her ability of Combat Clairvoyance. Only she, her sister, and Cassandra are known to possess it.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: She may try her hand at heroism now and then, but her Blood Knight tendencies usually call her back to the dark side.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: David Cain, towards her.
  • It Only Works Once: If you use a move she's never seen before, you better hope it takes her out, because that's the only chance you're getting.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: She's Cassandra Cain's biological mother.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Let's see:
    • Attempted to trick Batman into killing someone by secretly teaching him a fatal attack, then killing the master of a ninja clan and framing Batman for it. Batman caught wise and used a non-fatal version instead, but not to Shiva's knowledge.
    • Attempted to corrupt Richard Dragon, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, and Black Canary on several occasions.
    • Likes to trick martial arts masters into teaching her what they know, killing them after they've fulfilled her wishes.
  • Martial Medic: Taken Up to Eleven in that she's brought people Back from the Dead by punching them in the chest.
  • Meaningful Name: Shiva, as in both destroyer and creator; she's killed hundreds of people with her bare hands, but almost all the superheroes she's trained or mentored actually got good enough to neutralize her. Tim Drake became a competent fighter, but more importantly a Combat Pragmatist. Batman got a He's Back moment from her training, and remains one of the few people she respects on a professional warrior level. Black Canary Took a Level in Badass under her, which combines with her meta human powers for a powerful package.
    • Her daughter emphasizes this even more. Shiva approves of Cassandra's aversiveness to killing (most of the time) and she had Cassandra as much to have someone who would stop her rampage as much as anything else. And she personally retrains her to ensure Cassandra emails in fighting form.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow:
    • Her enmity with Richard Dragon.
    • Her entire villainous career was essentially caused by David Cain, and she later had a child with him as "thanks".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Everyone wants Lady Shiva.
  • The Obi-Wan: Becomes one to Batman in Knightfall.
  • Odd Friendship: With Black Canary to some extent.
  • Old Master: Her godfather, "O-Sensei".
  • Pregnant Badass: She was still capable of curb-stomping David (a world-class martial artist), even while heavily pregnant.
  • Professional Killer: Her day job. She doesn't really care about it, though. It's just good for thrills, and for finding good opponents by luring heroes to protect her targets.
  • Retcon:
    • In her original appearances, she trained in martial arts to fight Richard Dragon and avenge her sister (Richard was framed for her death). Post-Crisis, this was changed by saying that David Cain, a member of Ra's Al Ghul's League Of Assassins, killed her sister.
    • In the A Death In The Family storyline, Shiva was one of the possible candidates for Jason Todd's real mother, him having found her name in an address book of his fathers'. When they subdued her, they asked her if she had ever born children. Amused, Shiva sarcastically told them that she had dropped litters all over the globe, but a shot of a truth serum made her say that she hadn't. This was changed with the reveal that she was Cassandra Cain's mother. However, since it was a fairly minor moment, it's just as likely that this was a simple continuity mistake instead of an intentional retcon.
  • The Rival: Several.
    • Her big one is Richard Dragon.
    • She also considered Black Canary to be one. Although they do have Friendly Rivalry with each other to an extent.
    • Cassandra Cain is the person she most wants to succeed her, as she's her daughter.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Began as Richard Dragon's nemesis, but is nowadays more associated with Batman and his family of crimefighters.
  • She's Got Legs: As the Jade Canary, she even gets to wear Black Canary's fishnet stockings much to Shiva's dismay.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Writers tend to forget whether her last name is spelled Woo-san or Wusan. Probably because very few people think of her as Sandra Woo-san/Wusan, knowing her only as Shiva, and as a result, issues in which her given name is even mentioned are few and far between.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: David was this for her. Eventually, she gave him what he wanted, and thus came Cassandra.
  • Start of Darkness:
    • Pre-Crisis, it started when she learned martial arts strictly to kill Richard, became friends with him, and then became addicted to danger after they began traveling.
    • Post-Crisis, it began when David killed her twin sister.
  • Stocking Filler: As the Jade Canary.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: What she tries to get her Worthy Opponents to do, so that they will adopt her philosophy and succeed her.
  • That Man Is Dead: She hasn't gone by the name "Sandra Woo-san" in decades.
  • They Were Holding You Back: The reason David killed her sister. The two of them were both good fighters, but Shiva needed the extra push to become great.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Constantly. When she shows up in your life, things are about to get interesting, whether you want it to or not.
  • Willfully Weak: When she and Carolyn sparred, Sandra held back out of fear of hurting her. David noticed this and saw how much potential Sandra had, so he killed Carolyn so that Shiva would realize her full strength.
  • World's Best Warrior: In the field of martial arts only.
  • Worthy Opponent: All she wants is to find one.
    • In Birds of Prey after Huntress fights her in place of Black Canary (who is sporting a broken arm and thus guaranteed to die) as a distraction until they can locate Canary's adopted daughter Sin and stop the fight, Shiva is so impressed that she gives Helena the name Iron Owl. Here, she wasn't impressed by Helena's skill (which she admits isn't up to par with Shiva's) so much as the sheer guts it took to challenge her.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • She originally appeared chasing after Richard when he was framed for murdering her sister.
    • In a Birds of Prey story, she mercilessly hunted down the person who killed one of her favorite senseis.
Krypto the SuperdogDC Comics CharactersLana Lang
NovaThe SeventiesMs. Marvel

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