The Bat-Family (Batgirl | Batwoman | Jason Todd | Robin) | Extended Bat-Family & Other Supporting Cast (Azrael | Huntress)
Bane | Catwoman (Selina Kyle) | Clayface | Harley Quinn (Harleen Quinzel) | The Joker | Lady Shiva | League of Assassins (Ra's Al Ghul | Talia Al Ghul) | Mr. Freeze | The Penguin | Poison Ivy | The Riddler | The Scarecrow | Two Face | A-H | J-R | S-Z
Batgirl (2000) | Batman and the Outsiders | Dark Nights: Metal (The Batman Who Laughs) | I Am Batman | Nightwing (Dick Grayson) | Red Hood and the Outlaws | Robin (1993) (Tim Drake) | Robin (2021) (Damian Wayne)
Alter Ego: Sandra Wu-San
First appearance: Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter #5 (December 1975)
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 or just barely 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 whose warrior prowess she respects, especially those 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.
She is instrumental in the origin story of Victor Sage, otherwise known as The Question. After Vic pried into a corruption scandal, Shiva was hired to eliminate him. Impressed with his spirit, Shiva rescued Vic after he was dumped in a river and brought him to train with Richard Dragon, who taught Vic most of his lifestyle choices. She also has Friendly Enemy status with Vic's successor, Renee Montoya.
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. She later also appears as an adversary of the Secret Six.
DC's Rebirth event reintroduces her in a manner closer to her pre-Flashpoint counterpart, though with the major difference that this version of the character is the leader of the League of Shadows, a secret organization that Batman believes is only a myth.
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.
Lady Shiva Appears in:Notable Comic Books
- Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter Vol 1 (1976 - 1977)
- The Question Vol 1 (1987 - 2010) intermittent appearances
- Batman Vol 1 (1988 - 2003) intermittent appearances note
- Robin Vol 1 (1991 - 1991)
- Robin Vol 4 (1994 - 2009) intermittent appearances note
- Batgirl Vol 1 (2000 - 2006) intermittent appearances note
- Birds of Prey Vol 1 (2003 - 2007) intermittent appearances note
- Richard Dragon Vol 1 (2004 - 2005)
- Li'l Gotham Vol 1 (2012 - 2013) intermittent appearances
Live Action TV
- Birds Of Prey (2002) played by Sung Hi Lee
- Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009) voiced by Rachael MacFarlane
- Beware the Batman (2013 - 2014) voiced by Finola Hughes
- DC Super Hero Girls (2015 - 2018) voiced by Tania Gunadi
- Young Justice (2019-) voiced by Gwendoline Yeo
- Batman: Soul of the Dragon (2021) reprised by Kelly Hu
Tropes Associated with Lady Shiva
- The Ace: 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.
- Action Mom: She's one of the deadliest and most active martial artists on earth and also a mother to Cassandra Cain. Deconstructed in that she's spent no time whatsoever being a mother and left her daughter with the abusive man who sired her.
- Adaptation Personality Change:
- Post-Crisis she dialed back on her Deadpan Snarker tendencies and became much more serious and menacing.
- Rebirth has her attempt to destroy Gotham with a nuclear bomb. Pre-Flashpoint, she was consistently shown to dislike mass murder for its inelegance and cowardice (though certainly not due to the actual loss of life).
- Adaptational Wimp: Many Batman-centric adaptations that feature her as a member of his Rogues Gallery depict Batman as being capable of defeating her by himself in a straight fight, whereas in the comics the best he can usually hope for is to hold his against her for a bit or very sparingly fight her off long enough to come up with a more unorthodox approach. Sometimes it's moreso Batman receiving the Adaptational Badass treatment (such as in the Arkham games) but even adaptations that put more emphasis on Batman's fallible human nature (like Beware the Batman) have instances of him beating Shiva.
- Affably Evil: If you're a Worthy Opponent. Faux Affably Evil to everyone else.
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: Probably the most infamous example in the DC Universe, thanks to the Bruce Lee craze of The '70s, though her sister was originally an aversion who ended up dead in a situation where she'd have been able to easily escape with even a little martial arts knowledge. Her sister was later retconned to be a natural martial artist like Shiva.
- Ambiguously Human: Shiva and her daughter have both accomplished feats that should be impossible for a normal human. While Cassandra's Training from Hell was thought to be the source of these abilities, the reveal that her mother is Shiva, who has them without such intense training, raises many questions.
- Ambiguous Situation: Exactly where she ranks in terms of martial arts ability post-New 52 is something that has been extremely glossed-over. Many of her appearances have claimed her to be "one of" the strongest fighters on Earth, but due to the Broad Strokes canon, it has been left unclear exactly what the rankings are. Further complicating matters was the unknown canonicity of other contenders such as Richard Dragon, Ben Turner, Cassandra Cain and Connor Hawke. DC Rebirth and, later, DC Infinite Frontier somewhat addressed these by Canon Welding most of the Post-Crisis continuity back into the DC Universe, but there's still never been a truly definitive answer.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: What caused her Start of Darkness.
- Anti-Hero: From time to time.
- 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.
- Arch-Enemy: She's been one to Richard Dragon, the Question, and Batgirl, though with the former two she tended to team up as often as she fought them. In terms of personal hatred, Cheshire is probably the only person that Shiva actively despises.
- 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 Normal: Just barely. Some of her feats (like bringing back the dead) are very nearly in the territory of Supernatural Martial Arts and Charles Atlas Superpower. Regardless, she is a world-class martial artists, with few equals and fewer still who can claim to surpass her.
- Badass Longcoat: A look she adopted from the 90s onward.
- Berserk Button: Don't intervene in a fight with her to help her, or she'll kill you on the spot. She takes having a level playing field very seriously.
- Blood Knight: The only thing she cares about is finding a Worthy Opponent that will one day defeat and succeed her (And by "defeat", she means kill).
- 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 Character: Of the team of three which she debuted in, she's massively surpassed Richard Dragon and Ben Turner in popularity. The trio are meant to be the top-three greatest fighters in DC, but because of the latter two's relative obscurity, she's gained infamy as the best fighter in the DCU, with a wide margin between her and the rest of the competitionnote .
- Breakout Villain: More people have likely heard of her than Richard Dragon.
- But Not Too Foreign: She's Asian, but grew up at least partially in Detroit.
- Canon Discontinuity: Her New 52 appearances, which chose to make her around Dick's age (seen in an attempt to write out Cassandra Cain, who was seen as a Creator's Pest by Dan DiDio) and gave her an appearance that was ridiculed by fans for the inclusion of spikes in her hair. Following Cassandra's reintroduction in Batman and Robin Eternal and DC Rebirth happening, Shiva's restored to her previous appearance and history, and zero reference is made to how she was depicted in the interim.
- Characterisation Click Moment: Shiva was originally portrayed as a Skilled, but Naive Blood Knight who was certainly a great fighter, but nothing that Richard Dragon or Bronze Tiger hadn't seen before. In the late 80s, she began making appearances in Batman, The Question and Robin books (most frequently in Bat Family Crossovers), which depicted her current "hobby" of challenging top martial arts masters and killing them in a Duel to the Death in front of their students. This, in addition to her displaying a sort of "inscrutable Eastern wisdom" quickly gave her the reputation of a martial artist that even Batman and his partners wanted to avoid. Nowadays, she is reputed as being the world's greatest martial artist, and basically in a league all her own.
- Chosen Conception Partner: For David Cain, in the pre-Flashpoint continuity. He decided he wanted her to be the mother of his "ultimate assassin" after seeing her at a martial arts tournament in Detroit, and killing her sister Carolyn was part of his plan to make it happen. She accepted after he used the League to help him defeat her in exchange for her life, and it was this incident that inspired her to become Lady Shiva. And thus, that is how Cassandra Cain, the future Batgirl, was born.
- 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:
- 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.
- Deadpan Snarker: Towards anyone she sees as beneath her respect (which is most people) and to Richard Dragon.
- When Tim Drake trains with her in Robin Vol 1 4, and chooses a non-lethal retractable staff, Shiva mocks the decision as very "Christian" and "white" of him.
- Depending on the Artist: Whether she has long hair or short hair varies a lot.
- Depending on the Writer:
- Is she a Professional Killer? A wandering Blood Knight? Or someone so Above Good and Evil that her motivations are incomprehensible? It really depends on the day.
- Her level of ability also shifts drastically, especially when it comes to fighting superhumans. She's helpless against a low-level psychic in one miniseries, but in Joker's Last Laugh she issued a Curb-Stomp Battle to Supergirl.
- Death Seeker: Was portrayed as one when she battled Cassandra in their final duel, and she was also furious at a mook for saving her from what would have almost assuredly been a fatal bout with Richard Dragon and killed them for their trouble.
- Dragon Lady: Asian, sinister, exotic, and sexy.
- The Dreaded: Just mentioning that she's in town is usually enough to scare the shit out of any skilled martial artist. Not even Batman is fond of facing her in a fight.Mr. Combustible: Oh Oswald... you're scared of a "mob killer"? Really?
The Penguin: It's not a mob killer. It's Lady Shiva.
Mr. Combustible: Come, girls. Let us find better accommodations for tonight.
Girl #1: What? Where?
Mr. Combustible: Anywhere but Gotham.
- Duel to the Death: She LOVES these, but that doesn't stop her from being forced into an Involuntary Battle to the Death every now and then. Usually, people use her to get others into them. She'd rather choose her own targets.
- Everyone Has Standards: Shiva might be eager to test herself against the Bat-Family in combat, but when she was approached for training by the likes of Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, or even Bruce Wayne (currently suffering a crisis of confidence after his recent back injury), she accepted the request and never tried to kill them while they were weak. She also mentions that she had such respect for her old teacher, Sensei Otomo, that she never uses the skills he taught her in fights where her goal is the death of her opponents.
- Evil Former Friend: Shiva was never a hero, and he eagerness to kill meant that she Richard and Ben butted heads back when they used to regularly go on adventures together, but these days she's much darker and would be ecstatic to fight Rich to the death and unconcerned with Ben's well being. Of course their friendship was always tenuous at best anyway, but she did go out of her way to pull Rich out of a funk when he thought Ben had been killed, though it's implied she was part of the plot that resulted in Ben's disappearance.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Several characters have attempted to manipulate her for their own ends. It never ends well for them.
- Evil Mentor: To several characters, such as Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain and even Batman himself (although in that case she was more helping him get his skills back rather than teaching him from the beginning).
- Fad Super: She was created to cash in on the 1970s Bruce Lee Kung-Fu craze. She debuted within the pages of Richard Dragon, but her popularity outlasted that series. She's still a martial arts master, but no longer looks like a 1970s Dragon Lady.
- Fair-Play Villain: As stated, what she really wants more than anything is a fair fight against someone on her level.
- Finishing Move: The Leopard Blow. What it is varies from time to time, but one of the most gruesome versions involves ramming two fingers into a weapon point through the eye sockets, killing the target in one hit. Another version is smashing the nose and forcing the small bones of the nose into the brain. When later writers realized that was a physical impossibility, it was changed to the former version.
- Flanderization: She was originally written as a wandering thrill-seeker, often tagging along with heroes as part of her own agenda. However, most modern depictions tend to draw from the one time she was hired to kill The Question, and make her a straight-up Professional Killer.
- Her skill level is also an example of this. Once upon a time, she wasn't any better than Turner and Dragon, and they weren't treated as being particularly special fighters. After kicking Question's ass and then teaching him, she's been slowly exaggerated until she's now the deadliest fighter in the world by a huge margin, and her only competition is her own daughter.
- 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. Its actual nature is unclear, since Cassandra is known not to have a meta-gene.
- Glowing Eyes: The New 52 version of Shiva has eyes that occasionally flash green. It's not yet been revealed why, and likely never will be, due to that incarnation of the character being Hand Waved away in Rebirth.
- A God Am I:
- The Greatest Style: She uses an unnamed martial art that takes full advantage of her natural gift in Combat Clairvoyance to push her speed and reactions to borderline superhuman levels. She can also fight without it, but why would she?
- Hates Being Touched: In the first issue of The Question, a Mook tries making the moves on Lady Shiva and she applies some specific force to his wrist. After he finishes yowling in pain, Shiva gives a most explicit warning:"If you touch me again, I shall shatter three bones in your arm: the Humerus, the Radius and the Ulna. I shall shatter them in such a way that shards will protrude into the nerves causing intense pain. I shall shatter them in such a way that no western doctor will be able to repair them. Your arm will thereafter dangle from your shoulder like a dead fish. Do you understand?"
- 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 fact, they're usually what motivated her to start working with the heroes to begin with.
- Hero Killer: When she shows up, people die. She's personally killed The Question, Batgirl, and Richard Dragon, not to mention countless masters of martial arts. Of course, this being comic books, the people she kills rarely stay dead, and she even resurrects some of them herself.
- Honor Among Thieves: She rarely tolerates anyone breaking it.
- Humanoid Abomination: At her most powerful and inhuman she most definitely comes across as this. This quote in particular:
- Ice-Cream Koan: She is often portrayed as a mysterious, inscrutable character who offers the heroes whom she's working with "advice" which makes no sense to them. This was often used to illustrate her "exotic Asian wisdom", but has become more downplayed in later appearances, as her Yellow Peril aspects have fallen out of fashion.
- In Love with Your Carnage:
- David Cain, towards her.
- She has a (probably) platonic version towards Richard Dragon. She admits that she helps him because of his tendency towards violence.
- Invincible Villain: Within the Badass Normal milieu of the DC Universe, there is only a very rare selection of characters that can defeat her. For most others, Lady Shiva is an undefeatable antagonist that is more like a puzzle to solve or a force of nature to survive. In such cases, the challenge is not whether or not the hero will defeat her (usually, they won't) but whether they can avoid her long enough to complete their mission or find a way To Win Without Fighting. The most common way around this is to either appeal to her sense of fair play or promise to face her in a Duel to the Death in a year or so.
- 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.
- It's Personal: Do not harm her sensei or her students. The latter is her job.
- Killing Intent: Several characters feel her presence before they see her, usually as a sudden chill in the air.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: For all of her ability, she is, at the end of the day, just an ordinary human functioning at her absolute peak. As such, she knows full well that no matter how good a fighter she may be, she has absolutely no chance against the vast majority of superpowered individuals in a straight fight. The woman may live for nothing but fighting and has made it clear that she wants to die in mortal combat, but she's going to back down from a fight with the average person with superpowers because she's neither stupid nor suicidal.
- Lady of War: Her fighting style is a masterpiece of elegance with no wasted motion whatsoever.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: While Shiva is definitely a Combat Pragmatist that believes in using everything at one's disposal to achieve victory, when she does agree to specific rules or conditions, she will stick to her word. She wants the better fighter to win, which means allowing her opponent to play to certain strengths. This has bitten her in the butt a few times, because said opponents often aren't interested in such a contest and will cheat to avoid it.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: She's Cassandra Cain's biological mother.
- Navel-Deep Neckline: The outfit she was introduced in on Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter bore this.
- 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. Though she at least gives them a fair fight.
- Martial Medic: 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 remains in fighting form.
- Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow:
- Mistaken for Superpowered: Lady Shiva is a legendary martial artist (and biological mother of Cassandra Cain). She has an instinctive ability to read other peoples' body language, can copy any technique she sees even once, and possesses several other gifts and abilities that are incomprehensible to other people. She has multiple cults dedicated to worshipping her as a goddess.
- Morality Pet:
- Black Canary deliberately tries to be one for her in Birds of Prey. Shiva allows it because she wants to break Dinah of that habit.
- Her godfather, the O-Sensei, was an actual one for her, and she expended quite a bit of effort (and showed far more than her usual restraint) bringing him home when he was dying.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- Especially in Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter.
- In the Novelization of Knightfall, Bruce tells a naked Shiva she's probably the sexiest woman alive, but he has no interest in having his limbs snapped and just wants to train with her.
- Mugging the Monster: Done to her by Bikers. Ended about as well as one could expect.
- My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: It's so good, other characters go to her to enact this trope.
- Noble Demon: She has a personal code of honor and a warped sense of loyalty. Good luck trying to predict what situations that code applies to, though.
- Odd Friendship: With Black Canary to some extent. "Friends" may be pushing it a little far, but they are amicable acquaintances with a shared history and civil interactions. They have, on occasion, gone for drinks together, trained together and worked together. However, they also remain potentially mortal enemies from diametrically opposite sides of the good/evil divide.
- Old Master: Her godfather, "O-Sensei".
- Older Than They Look: The New 52 version of Shiva is implied to be this, as Nightwing notes she still looks rather young even though they encountered each other years earlier and she was a master martial artist even then.
- One-Woman Army: To the point where people started worshiping her as an avatar of Shiva the destroyer. She couldn't care less.
- Pragmatic Villainy: She's considered the world's greatest martial artist but for the most part sticks to fighting Badass Normal characters rather than the superpowered community at large. And in those rare moments she does take on superhuman foes, they're typically the lower tier superhumans that Batman can defeat in any random one-on-one encounter, such as that time she crushed Killer Croc and left his arm and leg in casts.
- Pregnant Badass: She was still capable of curb-stomping David (a world-class martial artist), even while heavily pregnant. Ironically, it was his kid she was pregnant with. Probably what helped make her daughter so badass.
- 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.
- Pungeon Master: Yes, really. In her earliest appearances in Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter, she is constantly making puns, to Dragon's chagrin.
- Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Sandra's chosen name of Shiva is the name of one of the principal deities of Hinduism.
- In her original appearances, she was a martial artist and thrill seeker who first appeared when she fought Richard Dragon to avenge her sister (Richard was framed for her death) with mere hints of her connection to the League Of Assassins, which would have pre-dated her sister's demise. Post-Crisis, this was changed by saying that David Cain, a member of Ra's al Ghul's League Of Assassins, killed her sister and recruited her into the League.
- 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, since Cass is about the same age as Jason. 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. Of course, given the kind of insane stunts that she and her daughter have done, it's entirely possible that the truth serum didn't work on her.
- Revision: In addition to the few straight-up retcons she's received, Shiva's backstory has received a few tweaks to clarify or add connective tissue.
- When first appearing in Richard Dragon, she was a relatively novice martial artist with great inherent skill. This was later altered to explain that Shiva (aka Sandra) had been training alongside her sister Carolyn for years, but neither took it very seriously out of fear of hurting the other. Cain killing Carolyn freed her from that restraint.
- Shiva turning from adventurer to murderous Blood Knight mercenary is explained by Richard and Ben choosing to stop adventuring, leaving the thrill-seeking Shiva to her own devices. She took up contract killing as a means of honing her skills and staving off boredom, and quickly grew addicted to the lifestyle.
- Shiva's reputation as the best martial artist was cemented by her repeated and brutal victories against other skilled masters, usually with witnesses to tell the tale and increase her legend. While roughly on par with the likes of Dragon, Turner and Batman at one time, her skills have grown to the point that none of them are certain if they can take her.
- 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: She started as an enemy/ally of Richard Dragon, before moving to the Question, Batman and eventually her own daughter, Cassandra Cain. As one of the DCU's best martial artists, she often appears in other titles in a similar capacity.
- Shrouded in Myth: To the point where being killed by her is considered to be an incredible honor in many countries.
- Spell My Name With An S: Writers tend to forget whether her last name is spelled Woo-san, Woosan, Wu-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, she even gets to wear Black Canary's fishnet stockings much to Shiva's dismay.
- 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.
- Superman Stays Out of Gotham: An interesting Inversion of this trope is usually in play with Lady Shiva, in that she goes out of her way to avoid getting involved with heroes that hold serious levels of power. She even goes so far as to try to avoid anything involving serious power being thrown around where the participants are straight up Physical Gods. In spite of Shiva's great skills and fighting ability, she fully acknowledges that she's just a Muggle in a world full of beings with power that defy logic and reason. It's telling that most of the comics she appears in are the ones with Badass Normals or superpowers that only give their users a slight edge over normal people.
- 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.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: When working with heroes, they insist she not kill anyone. This often annoys her, but she complies... usually.
- Took a Level in Badass: Back in the 70s and 80s, she was a skilled martial artist on-par with Ben Turner and Richard Dragon, but wasn't remarked as being any more special than any other martial artist hero in the DCU, and her and Batman were much closer in skill level. Then they began billing her as the best martial artist in the DCU, and is set up as clearly well above Batman's level. This would just be a retcon, but it's justified in-universe by the fact Shiva is constantly improving her skills and absorbing more techniques, so it's less that they pretend she was always unstoppable, but more that she became unstoppable over time.
- Training from Hell:
- She puts herself through this and others come to her to get it. Its implied that the name Lady Shiva is a title and that others are going through the same training to become the next one.
- Playing into the more positive aspects of her name, Shiva has also trained an awful lot of heroes, including Tim Drake and Bruce Wayne, and her code of honor has led her to even spare them if she feels they can be a better fight later. She even resuscitated Cass Cain after beating her to death in order to gain a proper rematch!
- The Unfettered: Shiva believes in letting others do as they wish, just as she does. Sometimes, of course, she wants to kill someone and they want to live. "This gives life interest."
- Villainous Cheekbones: One of her most consistent physical traits.
- Villain Respect:
- Naturally, Shiva loves skilled martial artists. If someone genuinely looks promising, she will applaud their ability and even offer to train them to overcome the flaws in their technique. But her ultimate goal is to fight a Duel to the Death; if she does find you to be a Worthy Opponent, she will force you to do so...one way or another.
- Even if someone isn't a skilled fighter, they can still earn her immense respect. She admires skill in any craft, courage, wisdom, and determination. For example, when Huntress challenged her in Black Canary's stead, Shiva nicknamed her Iron Owl because it took massive guts to risk her life in such a lopsided battle.
- Villain Takes an Interest: Constantly. There are several heroes who strike her fancy as Worthy Opponents, and she'll alternate between helping or hindering them for reasons that only she can make sense of. When she shows up in your life, things are about to get interesting, whether you want them 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.
- Not much of a weakness, considering how good she is anyway... But, she did tell Canary she never uses Sensei Otomo's techniques when she's trying to kill, out of respect for his teachings.
- Despite being possibly the greatest hand-to-hand fighter on the planet, her specialty is actually in bladed weapons. She simply finds it more interesting to handicap herself by using only her bare hands.
- World's Best Warrior: In terms of pure skill, she is practically unmatched in the DC Universe. In a fair duel, Shiva can defeat anyone, with only her Rival Richard Dragon and her own daughter demonstrating any actual potential to defeat her, though Batman, Bronze Tiger, Black Canary, and maybe Conner Hawke and/or Catman are all capable of fighting on par with her (though even they will all shy away from such a prospect unless absolutely necessary). However, seeing as she lives in the DC Universe, she doesn't stand a chance against a Superpower Lottery, and whenever a hero is forced to fight her, they typically use an Outside-the-Box Tactic to soften her up first or defeat her outright.
- The Worf Effect: It does happen on occasion, but she often regains herself shortly afterwards. The only person who she did not overcome in the end so far was Prometheus.
- Worf Had the Flu: Detective Comics (Rebirth) has her state that her previous defeats were intentional in order to appear weaker than she really was.
- 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.
- Yellow Peril: She was definitely created to invoke this trope, as well as the Dragon Lady. She was very much played up as a dangerous, exotic Asian fighter in the original Richard Dragon series, and those aspects were dialed up even further when she later appeared in The Question and Robin, where she was fond of using logic or making observations that made no sense, but she claimed were part of some greater "Eastern" wisdom that people of the western world would never understand. This has definitely been downplayed in more modern portrayals.
- 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. She does imply, however, that had he not been deathly ill already, she planned to kill him herself at some point.