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Comicbook: Ra's Al-Ghul

"A criminal mastermind more dangerous than The Joker and Lex Luthor put together."

Ra's Al-Ghul (Arabic for "the Demon's Head") is a DC Comics supervillain and is considered the Arch-Nemesis for Batman.

Er... Except for that...other...guy.

Ra's Al-Ghul first appeared in 1971 to provide a new type of villain, and Worthy Opponent, for the Dark Knight. Though created at the dawn of The Seventies, he is more accurately a product of The Sixties, and was influenced by the popularity of James Bond. Ra's is a archetypical Bond Villain, but slightly tweaked to fit in well with Batman and the greater DC Universe.

As stated, Ra's is second only to The Joker in Batman's Rogues Gallery, and may better fit the mold of an Evil Counterpart than the clown does. Like Batman, Ra's has wealth, skills, charisma, intelligence, and cutting-edge-technology, but unlike Batman, he also has an entire shadow organization at his beck and call which follows him like a devoted cult. Ra's' ultimate goal is to stop the slow death of the planet Earth... by wiping out most of humanity. In its place, he plans to build a new society which will be overall superior.

Ra's is nearly immortal—he is literally Really 700 Years Old. His life is extended by repeated usage of the Lazarus Pit, a mystical spring which can retard the aging process, heal virtually any wound, and even bring back the dead (temporarily driving the subject insane, however). However, repeated use of the Pit has made him addicted, and he has grown more and more reliant upon it as his time grows short. Which brings us to our next point...

The next thing Ra's is most famous for is his beautiful daughter, Talia Al-Ghul. After Catwoman, Talia is Bruce's second great love. And like Catwoman, being on opposite sides keeps them apart. Talia is often conflicted by her loyalty to her father and her love for Batman. She will often pick one over the other, only to change her mind again later.

Ra's whole-heartedly approves of the relationship between Batman and Talia, but only insofar as it will produce him an heir should Batman himself refuse to comply. He finally got his wish when Batman and Talia had a one-night-stand (or she raped him, Depending on the Writer) and she gave birth to Damian Wayne. However, Damian later defected and Talia had him cloned. Then the clone later kills Damian.

Ra's and Batman have a mutual respect for one another, and Ra's has even helped Batman at times as a show of good faith. However, he will just as easily disavow their "friendship" and declare that he and Batman are fully enemies (this has happened at least a billion times), and he's not above using brutal, efficient, and downright inhumane tactics to defeat his nemesis.

And if that weren't enough to make him awesome, Ra's is one of the few Batman villains that is fully aware of Batman's Secret Identity, even knowing the location of the Batcave.

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