The League of Assassins (renamed the League of Shadows or Society of Shadows in other media) is a group of fictional comic book villain, an organization of killers led by Ra's al Ghul, an enemy of Batman in the DC Comics Universe.
The League of Assassins was founded by Ra's al Ghul (exactly when is unknown) to be "the fang that protects the head" (Batgirl #67, 2005). Members of the League demonstrated willingness to die at a word from Ra's. They have included some of the most dangerous assassins in the world including Lady Shiva, David Cain, and Merlyn. For much of its current history, any member who failed in an assassination was in turn targeted by the League. Indeed, one of its best-known members, the master-archer Merlyn, was eventually forced to flee from the League, fearing for his life, having failed to assassinate Batman. In more recent years, this policy has apparently relaxed somewhat.
Ebeneezer Darrk, aka Doctor Darrk, was the first known individual assigned to head the League of Assassins by Ra's al Ghul. Darrk himself was seconded by The Sensei, a martial arts master from Hong Kong. Although many of the League's leaders over the years have been accomplished martial artists, Darrk himself did not depend on physical prowess, and as an assassin he instead relied upon careful planning and manipulation, ambushes and death traps, as well as a variety of cleverly concealed weapons and poisons. Although the League apparently had an inner circle of elite fighters as well as a large number of warriors trained in the martial arts, the League during Darrk's tenure as leader reflected his personal methodology. Following a "falling out" with Ra's (the exact details of which were never made clear) Darrk kidnapped Ra's daughter, Talia Al Ghul. Batman became involved in this matter while attempting to bring the League to justice for a number of recent killings. Although he had connected the League to several assassinations over the years, all previous attempts to investigate had met dead-ends. 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.
Under the direction of the organization's second known leader, the villainous Sensei, the League became more brutal, and rebelled against Ra's' rule. Although The Sensei's methods closely resembled Darrk's, and the majority of the League's operatives showed little to no real skill in personal combat, 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', and 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 earlier training at the hands of O-Sensei (not to be confused with the leader of the League) proved too strong for the League to fully break, and when he refused to kill Batman he 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.
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