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The League of Shadows

In the new world, all peoples will be united, every race, every faith, every creed will find common purpose... our world is not for everyone. Only those who prove their worth will enter it. The rest will be purged... and if nine hundred and ninety-nine must perish for every one who lives... so be it.
– Ra's al Ghul

The League of Shadows is a secretive international organization known by many names throughout its history. They have developed a reputation for deadly warriors who kill and vanish like ghosts. Led by the enigmatic Ra's al Ghul members trained trained in multiple forms of combat with emphasis placed on silent weapons that maximize speed and stealth. The League is more than just a hit-squad, their ultimate goal is to spread their master's view of "true justice" throughout the world.

The History of the League

The history of the League is muddled and cryptic. Intentionally so. Tracing their exact linage is said to be impossible though most agree their heritage dates back hundreds of years at least and thousands at most. In the late nineteen-sixties the League came to the attention of the superhero community and many believe it is no coincidence that their appearance heralded the death of The Authority.

The Forgotten History

The history of the League is tied closely to the history of it's founder, Ra's al Ghul. The events written below were known to Ra's at one point, but after centuries of life most have been forgotten. What you are about to read is an accounting of a history that none remember. 

The Birth of Ra's al Ghul

Timespan: c.699 – c.726

Ra's al Ghul was born around 700 CE into a tribe of Egyptian nomads living in the Arabian Desert near 'Eth Alth'eban, a city whose inhabitants' ancestors had journeyed to from China. Ra's interest in science from an early age lead him to abandon his tribe to live in 'Eth Alth'eban, where he could conduct scientific research. 

The biggest breakthrough of Ra's scientific career happened by accident. He was tasked with finding a cure for the dying prince of 'Eth Alth'eban. While digging beneath the city Ra's uncovered a pool of restorative chemical. Although the Lazarus Pit saved the prince's life, it also drove him mad and into killing Ra's al Ghul's wife, Sora.

Ra's took his revenge on the Prince by means of understanding the germ theory hundreds of years before anyone else. Ra's infected the prince with a deadly virus by sending him contaminated fabrics. However, the virus spread and began to ravage the city. When the ruler came to ask Ra's for the cure it was only his son the king asked Ra's to help. Instead, Ra's killed both him and his son, then razed the city to the ground, killing all of its inhabitants.

Leaving the charred remnants of 'Eth Alth'eban behind, Ra's sets forth to uncover a new Lazarus Pit and ensure his immortality.

The An Lushan Rebellion

Timespan: c.755 – c.763

Nearly thirty years later Ra's finds himself living in Nanda Parbat, Tibet, having uncovered a new Lazarus Pit beneath the city. When Tibetan emperor Me Agtsom is assassinated Ra's, fearing that the Tang dynasty would invade Tibet and uncover his Lazarus Pit, travels north to speak with General An Lushan. Ultimately Ra's urges the General to declare himself Emperor of the new Great Yan dynasty and rebel against the Tang dynasty.

Around 755 General An Lushan revoltes against the Tang dynasty, declares himself emperor in Northern China, and establishes the rival Yan Dynasty. The rebellion spanned the reigns of three Tang emperors before it was quashed, and involved a wide range of regional powers; besides the Tang dynasty loyalists, others involved were anti-Tang families, especially in An Lushan's base area in Hebei, and Arab, Gokturk, and Sogdian forces or influences, among others. The rebellion and subsequent disorder resulted in a huge loss of life and large-scale destruction. It significantly weakened the Tang dynasty, and led to the loss of the Western Regions. 

As An Lushan grew paranoid and dangerous, Ra's urged his son, An Qingxu, to assassinate him. When reflecting upon the past, Ra's has commented that in some ways An Qingxu was the first member of the League of Shadows, though that name was not being used. Eventually, An Qingxu fell, executed by Shi Siming. Shi Siming was a childhood friend of An Lushan who sought revenge for his friend's death. In turn, Ra's turned Shi Siming's son, Shi Chaoyi, against his father. However, Shi Chaoyi could never gain the allegiance of his father's subordinates, and was defeated by joint forces of Tang and Huige. After Shi Chaoyi's suicide, Ra's abandons his machinations on China and sets out to reclaim 'Eth Alth'eban.

However, upon his return to 'Eth Alth'eban, Ra's discovered it had become a holy site for the growing Islamic faith of Saudi Arabia.

The Crusades

Timespan: c.1084 – c.1291

In order to secure 'Eth Alth'eban for himself, Ra's knew he would need to weaken the Saracen hold on the Arabian Peninsula. To that end, in 1084 Ra's set out to become friends with Otho de Lagery, a recently appointed Legate in Germany. Otho, formerly a Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, was on track to becoming the next Pope and Ra's hoped he could use the Catholic Church to do his work for him.

Otho became Pope Urban II in 1088 but it wasn't until 1095 that he proclaimed the First Crusade with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to holy places in and near Jerusalem. The impact of the crusades were far more profound than Ra's could have estimated. Following the First Crusade there was an intermittent 200-year struggle for control of the Holy Land, with six more major crusades and numerous minor ones. In 1291, the conflict ended in failure with the fall of the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land at Acre, after which Roman Catholic Europe mounted no further coherent response in the east.

Feeling a personal responsibility, Ra's does everything in his power to control the Crusades and curb the violence. For over a hundred years Ra's learned everything from personal combat to siege tactics, all in a vain attempt direct the Crusades. In 1291, when Acre fell, Ra's returned to the Arabian Peninsula and the city of 'Eth Alth'eban.

The Rise of 'Eth Alth'eban

Timespan: c.1291 – c.1341

While the Crusades were a blow to Ra's ego, they did manage to still serve his purpose. Saracen hold of the Arabian Peninsula had slipped enough for him to rediscover 'Eth Alth'eban and turn it into a utopian paradise. The city itself is hidden in a labyrinthine series of canyons in the middle of the desert. It’s entrance is reminiscent of the entrance to the Al Khazne temple near Petra, except with accents of copper and a snake motif throughout. However, beyond the gigantic copper doors is another story altogether. The city has transformed into a underground eco-paradise, with the architectural styles of a pre-Islam Arabia.

Eventually the city would grow into an unprecedented technological achievement, including utilizing an artificial sun in the roofs of the cavern, in the early days 'Eth Alth'eban acted as more of a refuge than a metropolis. Ra's gathered those who had remained loyal to him over the centuries; the scattered members of his birth tribe, his allies from the fallen Yan Dynasty or the current Yuan dynasty, his connects within the Catholic Church or any Islamic sympathizers he saved from the Crusades, and other wayward souls Ra's had attracted to his cause over the years. 

It was here, over the fifty years he spent building 'Eth Alth'eban that Ra's decided what he wanted to do with the world. He saw 'Eth Alth'eban as a place in perfect balance. A place of magic, advanced technology, and nature, all together. Everything and everyone co-existing with luscious, tropical vegetation and wildlife, hanging gardens, tropical birds, and crystal clear waterfalls. 'Eth Alth'eban became a beautiful city built into a nature preserve.

When Ra's felt satisfied with the foundation he'd built in 'Eth Alth'eban he set out to spread his vision to the rest of the world. There way only one problem, much like 'Eth Alth'eban when he first arrived, it was a corrupt and misguided place that needed to be burned to the ground. It was in the ashes of the old world that Ra's would build his paradise.

The Black Death

Timespan: c.1343 – c.1353

His first attempt to cleanse the world was similar to the way he cleansed 'Eth Alth'eban. Ra's brought the same virus he used over six-hundred years before to the arid plains of Central Asia. This time he bread the virus into fleas that could find homes in the black rats that were regualr passengers on merchant ships. Using the Silk Road, Ra's managed to spread his Black Death from Crimea throughout the Mediterranean and Europe.

The Black Death became one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53. Estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population. In total, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century.

The was only one problem, humanity survived. Ra's returned to 'Eth Alth'eban and considered the problem. Only emerging a hundred and seventy-five years later with a new plan.

Rome, London, and Chicago

Timespan: c.1527 – c.1938 

Instead of setting his sites on all of Europe, Ra's focused on building individual utopias similar to what he had accomplished with 'Eth Alth'eban. His first attempt came in 1527 when the mutinous troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in Rome, sacked the city. In 1666 Ra's set fire to the bakery of Thomas Farriner in London, leading to the conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London. Then in 1871 he used fire again in a small barn that bordered the alley behind 137 DeKoven Street in Chicago.

Despite these various attempts, and more smaller and less successful endeavors like the 1769 Church of San Nazaro Explosion, Ra's was unable to recreate the success he had with 'Eth Alth'eban. Undaunted, Ra's continued these methods until 1938, when the Superman arrived and the world changed forever.





The Silent Era

Timespan: c.1938 – c.1967

For thirty years, Ra's sat quitely aside and waited to see what these new beings would do to the world. Where he could he would direct them to his cause, but for the most part he remained silent. 

Deadman and The Hook

Timespan: c.1967 – c.1968

The first known encounter in modern history with any members of the League of Shadows took place in 1967 when The Hook, an operative of the League, killed Boston Brand. Brand, formerly a circus acrobat, was murdered during a trapeze performance as part of The Hook's induction into the League of Assassins. The League of Assassins being Ra's new group of killers and assassins. 





So he could search for his murderer and obtain justice, the Hindu goddess, Rama Kushna, gave Brand's spirit the power to possess any living being. 

Ultimately, Boston found out the truth about his murder and came to accept his role as one who intervenes in mortals' lives.

The Hook, real name Matson, is a skilled assassin, so named because of his large gleaming hook for a left hand. He is a member of the League of Assassins and as such has crossed paths with the Batman Family. His most famous deed was his initiation into the League, by murdering the circus acrobat Boston Brand.

It was once believed that he died at the secret headquarters of the League of Assassins when he faced his trial before their leader, the Sensei. [1]

The Sensei declared the Hook a failure in murdering Boston Brand, not realizing that Boston did in fact die. Unbeknownst to the League, Boston had a twin brother named Cleveland, and it was he who was now performing the famous "Deadman" trapeze act at Hill's Circus.

However, it was later revealed that the Hook was never killed by the Sensei at all. Instead, he became a member of the Seven Men of Death,[2] an elite group of assassins led by Ra's al Ghul. With the Seven Men, the Hook continues to carry out numerous assassinations, answering only to Ra's.




Any member to fail in an assassination was in turn targeted by the League and indeed, one of its most well known members, the master-archer Merlyn was eventually forced to flee from the League, fearing for his life, having failed to assassinate Batman.



1346 - The Black Death
1527 - The Sacking of Rome
1666 - The Great London Fire
1769 - The Church of San Nazaro Explosion
1871 - The Chicago Fire
1985 - The Chicago Economic Downturn

1468

1588 - In Cannon Formation of the Hand

1968 - First appearance of the Society of Assassins
1971 - First appearance of Ra's al Ghul
1971 - First appearance of Talia al Ghul
1976 - First appearance of Lady Shiva
1981 - First appearance of The Hand
1981 - First appearance of Elektra
1999 - First appearance of Cassandra Cain
1999 - First appearance of David Cain
2003 - First appearance of Nyssa Raatko


703: Ra's al Ghul born.
1971: First documented appearance of Ra’s al Ghul.
1995: Ra’s claimed age to be between 448-453 but also mentions surviving the Black Plague which places him over 650.
2004: First documented death of Ra’s al Ghul.
2007: First documented resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul.

1971: First documented appearance of Talia al Ghul.
1987: Talia gives birth to Ibn al Xu’ffasch (Damian Wayne).
2001: Talia abandons the League, forms the Society.
2003: Talia documented to have been killed and resurrected in rapid succession over the year.
2003: Talia rejoins the League, merging the Society into their fold.

2000: First documented appearance of Nyssa Raatko.
2001: Nyssa joins the League.
2003: Nyssa abducts Talia and brainwashes her into rejoining the League.

"The Demon's Fang", The League of Assassins
"The Demon's Eye", The League of Shadows 
"The Demon's Claw", The Society of Assassins
"The Demon's Sight", The Society of Shadows

1971: 

For years Batman had been aware of the group, but unaware of who they were. He had been trying to bring the League to justice for years over a number of killings and although he had connected the League to several assassinations over the years, all previous attempts to investigate had met dead-ends. This could be in part due to the League's leader, Ebeneezer Darrk. 

During Darrk's tenure as leader The League reflected his personal methodology, as Darrk himself did not depend on physical prowess. Instead he relied upon careful planning, manipulation, ambushes and death traps, as well as a variety of cleverly concealed weapons and poisons. 

Eventually Ra's and Darrk had a falling out, over what is unknown, but Darrk kidnapped Ra's daughter, Talia al Ghul. 



Batman rescued Talia, the first time the two would meet - laying the foundation for all their future interaction, and Darrk died while trying to kill them.



The Rebellion

Under the direction of the organization's second known leader, the Sensei, the League became more brutal and rebelled against Ra's' rule. Although the Sensei's methods closely resembled Darrk's, the Sensei did show slightly more reliance on skilled martial artists. This version of the League is best known for two assassinations. As part of an initiation process, the operative known as the Hook was assigned to murder Boston Brand (who became Deadman after his death). Additionally, Professor Ojo successfully brainwashed Ben Turner (best friend and partner of Richard Dragon), creating an alternate personality dubbed the Bronze Tiger, turning the master martial artist into a League operative. As the Bronze Tiger, Turner defeated Batman in personal combat while another League operative murdered Kathy Kane (the secret identity of Batwoman in pre-Crisis continuity, and a close personal friend of Batman's post-Crisis). Eventually, Turner's training at the hands of the O-Sensei proved too strong for the League to fully break; when he refused to kill Batman, Turner was forced to flee the League. Not long afterwards, the insane Sensei - no longer motivated by anything but a desire to raise assassination to an art - attempted to cause an artificial earthquake in order to kill a number of diplomats gathered for peace talks. Batman traced Ben Turner to a hospital, foiling a League attempt to assassinate the man. Turner could not fully remember the actions of his alternate personality (although years later, as a member of the Suicide Squad, he would reveal that the League had used him to kill a number of people) but he was able to aid Batman in uncovering the Sensei's latest plot. Although Batman was unable to prevent the earthquake, ultimately it was only the Sensei himself that died in the disaster, and control of the League returned to Ra's.

Role in the Creation of Lady Shiva
It was recently revealed that, prior to the betrayals of Doctor Darrk and the Sensei, Ra's had grown tired of the fickle loyalties of his warriors. Ra's assigned David Cain to create a perfect bodyguard ("The One Who Is All"). After early attempts to raise such a person resulted in hopelessly psychotic children, Cain decided that he needed a genetically-suited child and began searching for a possible mother. To this end, he assassinated Carolyn Woosan/Wu-San, one of two astonishingly talented martial artist sisters he had seen fighting in an exhibition. Carolyn's sister, Sandra, swore revenge and tracked Cain down, only to be subdued by the combined might of the League. Both intoxicated and frightened by the levels of skill she was attaining now that she was no longer holding back for her sister's sake, Sandra agreed to be the mother of Cain's child. In return, the League spared Sandra's life and assisted her in further training. By the time Sandra gave birth, she had surpassed the entire League in skill. She left immediately following the birth of her daughter, Cassandra Cain, rechristening herself Lady Shiva.

Other stories would suggest that at some points afterwords. Shiva worked as a member of the League. Eyewitness testimony from former League member Onyx indicates that she kept in contact with the League, although she apparently did not see her daughter. Although most of her appearances over the years show her working independently, she apparently had some degree of League membership and was called upon by Ra's to "rescue" Talia during the Hush storyline.

In keeping with Ra's and Cain's plans, the League attempted to train Cassandra Cain from birth to be the ultimate assassin, unknowingly giving her the skills she would use as the hero Batgirl.

Nyssa al Ghul
After the death of Ra's, his daughter Nyssa formed a new League. Lady Shiva was recruited to serve as Sensei to this incarnation of the League with the intent that Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) would lead the warriors themselves.

Reflecting Shiva's emphasis for martial arts, the known members of Nyssa's League were all skilled in this area and included the warriors Shrike, Kitty Kumbata, Wam Wam, Joey N'Bobo, Tigris, Momotado, Krunk, White Willow, the twin warriors Los Gemelos, Ox, "Mad Dog" Cain, Alpha, and Cristos. The new League was present when Mr. Freeze's wife Nora Fries was brought back to life as the monstrous Lazara, and several members died in the resulting chaos.

Due to the conflict between their loyalty to Shiva and Nyssa and their near-worship of Batgirl as "The One Who is All," the League split at that point with Ox, White Willow, and Tigris pledging themselves to Cassandra. Several more members of the League (including all the defectors except Tigris) died when the insane "Mad Dog" went on a killing spree. It was revealed that the "Mad Dog" had been one of David Cain's early attempts to create Ra's' perfect warrior. The "Mad Dog" had been considered useless as a child since Cain's methods had driven him murderously insane, and Ra's had ordered the child be killed. However, Nyssa knew that the servant ordered to carry out this execution had instead released him into the wild, explaining how it was possible to recruit him. The "Mad Dog" was successful in killing Batgirl (who gave her life to protect the burqa-clad assassin Tigris). She was quickly restored to life in a Lazarus Pit by Shiva in order that the two could face each other in a final battle.

Cassandra Cain
Although many of its members had died or defected, the League survived the Infinite Crisis, and was seen to play an important role in The Society's world-wide prison break.[2] Throughout the aftermath, the League remained under the control of Nyssa until she was apparently killed in a car explosion. Cassandra Cain apparently took over the League as its new leader. All the members thus far seen in Cassandra's version of the League have been unnamed masked martial artists. There is debate as to whether or not Cassandra was really in charge, brainwashed by Deathstroke as she was, but she served as a powerful symbol. After she regained her senses and left the league, it splintered into several factions unsure of who to follow.

Return of Ra's Al Ghul
When Ra's Al Ghul returned, the League of Assassins once more fell under his control.


'Eth Alth'eban - The League
Nanda Parbat - Talia Al Ghul
Chicago - Damien Wayne
Lake Anec - Bruce Wayne
London - Ra's Al Ghul
Moscow - Nyssa Raatko
Santa Prisca - Bane
Detroit - Lady Shiva
Kansas City - Merlyn 
Hong Kong - Sensei
Minneapolis - Cassandra Cain
Cincinnati - David Cain