“Daughter of the Demon” (BATMAN #232, 1971)
Ra’s al Ghul first appeared in 1971. In his first appearance, a group of mysterious kidnappers targeted both Batman’s partner Robin, who was then Dick Grayson, and Talia al Ghul, Ra’s’ daughter. Ra’s and his manservant Ubu approached Batman about joining forces to solve the kidnapping, and in doing so informed him that they knew his true identity of Bruce Wayne.
After following every clue and lead, Batman discovered that the kidnappings were in fact staged by Ra’s, in order to see if Batman was a great enough detective to figure it out and therefore be worthy of marrying his daughter. When Batman rejected this offer, despite having real feelings toward Talia, it began an acrimonious relationship between the two men that continues to this day.
“Contagion” and “Legacy” (BATMAN #529, #533-534, DETECTIVE COMICS, vol. 1, #695-696, #700-701, 1996)
After many conflicts over the years, Ra’s al Ghul came close to his goal of ridding the Earth of the bulk of humanity. His organization released a deadly virus called the Ebola Gulf, or “the Clench,” in Batman’s home of Gotham City. Eventually Batman discovered a cure for the virus, and then discovered that it was Ra’s al Ghul who was responsible for it.
As Batman traveled all over the world in an effort to prevent other outbreaks of the virus, Ra’s teamed up with the man who broke Batman’s back, the criminal known as Bane. It was Ra’s’ hope that Bane could marry Talia and become his new heir. But Talia loathed Bane. Batman eventually discovered a way to completely defeat the Clench virus thanks to an ancient artifact called the “Wheel of Plagues.” This artifact had given Ra’s the knowledge he needed to help create the disease. Although defeated once more by his dreaded adversary, Ra’s al Ghul nevertheless again evaded being brought to justice.
BATMAN: DEATH AND THE MAIDENS #1-9, 2003-2004
Although Ra’s’ beloved daughter Talia was well known to his friends and enemies, he had another child, Nyssa Raatko, whom he had abandoned during World War II. Bitter her whole life toward Ra’s, she began an elaborate plot to destroy her father, which forced Ra’s to call a truce with the Batman. Ra’s made a deal to allow Batman access to a Lazarus Pit to give him superior strength in order to fight Nyssa and her subordinates, while also giving Batman access to a serum that allowed him to make contact with the spirit world and see his parents. Nyssa contacted her sister Talia, and then kidnapped and brainwashed her. Ra’s seemingly died (again), and Nyssa and Talia became the dual heads of the Demon, taking over Ra’s’ vast empire.
“The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul” (BATMAN #670-671, DETECTIVE COMICS #838-840, 2007)
After Ra’s’ death, his daughter Talia revealed to Batman that she had borne him a son, Damian Wayne, who would end up becoming the fourth young man to go by the name Robin. After some time Ra’s al Ghul returned. It was revealed that his consciousness had survived his death, and he’d transferred it to a new host body. That body, however, was dying, and he needed to be transferred to another, even more youthful one—his own grandson, Damian. Although Damian avoided being overtaken by the mind of his grandfather, Ra’s found a way to transfer his consciousness into the body of the White Ghost, the code name for his estranged, albino son, Dusan.
New 52 (2011-2016)
In the DC Universe that was reimagined following the events of 2011’s FLASHPOINT, Ra’s al Ghul was still the founder of the League of Assassins. But in this new reality, Ra’s was also part of an organization that went by the name “the Untitled.” Ra’s al Ghul built a city, Eth’Alth’Eban, over the Untitled’s Well of Sins, which was the very first Lazarus Pit. Through the Well, Ra’s managed to create his own Pit, which was how he had managed to exist for hundreds of years.
Ra’s al Ghul attempted to create a relationship between his League of Assassins and the organization known as the All-Caste. Through that group, the League forged an alliance with the Untitled, the rival organization of the All-Caste. As part of its deal, the League asked the All-Caste to train Jason Todd, the second Robin, who had died at the hands of The Joker, but was later resurrected and trained by Ra’s al Ghul, and who took the name “the Red Hood.” Ra’s ultimately betrayed the All-Caste, and the All-Caste was later killed off by the Untitled.
Rebirth (DETECTIVE COMICS #953-956, 2017)
In the Rebirth era, it was revealed that Ra’s al Ghul had created an offshoot group from the League of Assassins, which he called the League of Shadows. To lead this second deadly team, Ra’s appointed the cunning Lady Shiva. But once Lady Shiva found out about Ra’s’ genocidal purpose for the League of Shadows, she turned against him. When Lady Shiva came to Gotham City with the Shadows, Ra’s met with Batman, apparently trying to help him take them down, although it was later revealed that Ra’s had made a deal with Shiva, in exchange for Batman. Although he didn’t get his hands on the Bat, Ra’s is still at large, formulating his next plan for global genocide.