Daughter of the Demon, leader of the League of Assassin’s, Leviathan; Talia al Ghul is all of these things and more. Heiress to a new world order, master strategist, world-class villain, as well as mother to a superhero. Talia approaches life as a game of skill and cunning, and often ends up coming out ahead. So who is this woman and how did she become one of Batman’s greatest foes and lovers? Let’s find out.
Talia was born to the nearly immortal Ra’s al Ghul and her mother, whom she didn’t meet til much later in her life. The two met at a large concert (Woodstock in the original, now hinted to be Live Aid in the updated version), and after Talia was born Ra’s took her to raise her to be a great leader and warrior. Trained by some of the best people, she had training similar to that of the Batman. Ra’s believed that he had to find Talia a perfect suitor to be the Adam and Eve of his new paradise.
Her first meeting with Batman would be when a man named Dr. Darrk was leading the League of Assassins. This was because Darrk had failed Ra’s, and it was up to Batman and Talia to take him down. Talia shoots and kills Darrk to rescue Batman.
Batman would meet Talia again after she and Ra’s tricked Batman into believing that she had been kidnapped along with Robin. Talia had not anticipated falling for Batman, and would begin a rocky ally/enemy relationship with him and help as often as she’d betray him.
After the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd, Talia would get involved with the resurrection of the young man. Originally he was brought back due to reality-altering punches from Superboy-Prime (yeah, really). In more recent times it was Ra’s who’d take the corpse of Todd and revive him with a Lazarus Pit. Talia would try to help Todd gain some semblance of sanity back after Ra’s and the League of Assassins’ attempts to mold him in their image. She helps Todd escape and tells him how Batman refused to kill The Joker, his killer, helping spurn Jason on toward his new path as a deadly vigilante.
Tired of Batman’s refusal, her father believed that Bane, the man who broke the Bat, was a possible suitor for her. Talia didn’t think Bane was anywhere near as capable as Batman, and she found this new suitor to be a beast of a man. The relationship was short-lived when Batman beat Bane in front of Ra’s, and Talia was disillusioned by the whole event and left her father.
Talia would go by an English translation of her name, Talia Head, to head LexCorp while Lex Luthor would become President of the United States of America. During this time Talia would work with Superman to give him data necessary to show that Lex was at least one of the top three worst presidents ever. She’d also sell LexCorp over to the Wayne Foundation, leaving Luthor to be defeated both politically and financially.
Family was never one of Talia’s strongest areas of expertise. This would shine as she’d meet her older sister, Nyssa, who had been abandoned by Ra’s to have to survive the Holocaust where she’d lose her family and everything else in her life. Taking her vengeance out on Talia to reforge her as her own weapon against their father, she’d repeatedly kill Talia and dunk her into a Lazarus Pit to resurrect her. The pit has mental side effects and so the repeated use was meant to break her through this torture. While Nyssa would fail in trying to kill Superman so as to unite the planet in tragedy, she would succeed in killing Ra’s. Talia would join her sister and the League of Assassins in running the Demon, Ra’s main organization.
The Secret Society of Super Villains would have Talia as their recruiter, and she’d end up fighting with fellow daughter of an immortal, Scandal Savage. She nearly won in a one-on-one fight until Scandal was assisted by Knockout; mind you, Talia was winning while unarmored and with only a sword. That’s really cool. Talia and her sister fight to take control of Cassandra Cain, Batgirl, but Nyssa fails as Cassandra kills her. Talia becomes the new Demon’s Head while Cassandra takes the League of Assassins and leaves the Demon organization.
It is revealed that in a time when Batman and Talia were effectively married in an early adventure (Batman was under the influence of some sort of drug, while his love may have been real it was warped by the drug) that the two conceived a child. Talia would use her advanced technology to improve the child, Damian. He’d been trained by the League of Assassins and groomed as the heir of the Demon.
While letting Batman learn of their son, she’d begun a plot to test the boy and Batman both. Meanwhile, an old associate of Ra’s, the White Ghost, would arrive to attempt to make Damian the new body for a return of Ra’s al Ghul. Batman would stop this and take his son in as he realized the boy was spoiled and murderous due to his time with his mother and the League of Assassins.
Learning of a plot to kill Batman by an organization called the Black Glove, Talia teams up with her son to stop them. They are unsuccessful, and Batman is seemingly killed (in reality, he’d end up lost in time, punching his way back to the present; Batman is awesome in case you didn’t know). Talia leaves Damian with Dick Grayson, where the two would become the new Batman and Robin.
To ensure her son’s devotion, Talia had implanted control of his body when he’d required surgery earlier. She’d use this tech to allow Deathstroke to kidnap her son and return him to her. Upon learning that Damian was now very much devoted to Batman over her, she cast him out of House al Ghul and he promised to be a worthy foe. Talia has a clone of Damian in the works so that she will always have a devoted son in her war against the Batman.
The return of Bruce Wayne as Batman has him bring about Batman Incorporated, a world-wide organization of vigilantes funded by Wayne Enterprises. To counteract this, Talia begins to integrate Leviathan, an organization to take apart Batman, his ideals, and the organizations he has made. Infiltrating the entire planet, especially Gotham, Talia leads with an iron fist. She even has her cloned son kill Damian; that’s just cold. Talia is currently in charge of the League of Assassins, the Demon, and Leviathan. Her end game against Batman is fast approaching at the time of this article.
Detective Comics #411
Batman: Son of the Demon
Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1
Batman and Robin Vol. 2