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Cover to Batman: Death and the Maidens #3.
Klaus Janson, artist
|First appearance||Detective Comics #783 (August, 2003)|
|Created by||Greg Rucka
|Team affiliations||League of Assassins
Secret Society of Supervillains
|Notable aliases||Nyssa al Ghūl|
|Abilities||Uses her father's Lazarus Pits to restore life and heal wounds; knowledgeable in the study of alchemy; genius rivals that of her father.|
Fictional character biography
In Batman: Death and the Maidens, it is revealed that Ra's al Ghul had a love child born during his travels in Russia in the 18th century named Nyssa. Enamored by the romantic stories that her mother told her about Ra's as a child, Nyssa sets out to find Ra's and eventually locates him at his headquarters in North Africa.
Impressed by her beauty, her warrior skills, and the fact that she was able to locate him, she is promoted to a position similar to that later held by her half-sister, Talia. As a right hand associate, she accompanies him during his adventures. Ra's is so impressed with her abilities, he even allows Nyssa to use his Lazarus Pits. Like her sister Talia, Nyssa eventually becomes disenchanted with Ra's genocidal plans to "cleanse the Earth", and disassociates herself from her father sometime in the early 20th century. Ra's reluctantly approves this, believing that she will return to him and that she or her children will become his future heirs. To his disappointment, Nyssa refuses to give herself or her family to him, causing him to disown her permanently. He does however allow her to keep a Lazarus Pit for herself and, much to his surprise, she finds a way to reuse it, allowing her to survive until modern times.
The Second World War
During World War II, Nyssa and her family are quickly sent to a concentration camp, where Nyssa's entire family dies and she is rendered infertile by very Mengele-style experiments. At one point she begs Ra's for help, but he refuses her, stating that, while he does not agree with Hitler's ideas, his cause could only be aided by the millions who will be exterminated by Hitler's scheme.
Death and the Maidens
Broken by her horrifying experiences during this time, and enraged that Ra's has abandoned her and her family to die at the hands of the Nazis, Nyssa is finally motivated to act when her great-grandson – her last living descendent - is killed. She plots to kill Ra's by befriending, kidnapping, and brainwashing Talia and using her to kill Ra's. To this end, she captures Talia and, using a Lazarus Pit, kills and resurrects her in rapid succession, leaving Talia virtually broken from the trauma of dying again and again in so short a time. Rendered apathetic by her time in the camp, unable to feel anything, Nyssa then attempts to destroy all hope and optimism in the world by assassinating Superman with Kryptonite bullets she steals from the Batcave, hoping that, by uniting the world in one moment of tragedy, she will manage to rouse herself once more.
While Batman is successful in preventing the assassination of Superman, he is unable to stop Ra's from being killed by Nyssa. This in turn is part of a greater plan by Ra's to ensure that his daughters, both initially dissatisfied with his plans, will realize that he is right, and that they would come to accept their destinies as his heirs. Realizing and accepting this, both Nyssa and Talia become the heads of the League of Assassins. Talia disavows her love for Bruce Wayne, and both half-sisters declare Batman to be their enemy, Nyssa promising that she will not fail her father as Batman departs.
Nyssa is in possession of one of the world's last Lazarus Pits, which has granted her longevity and the ability to heal her wounds; she survives The Holocaust thanks to its powers. She also found the ability to use the pit multiple times. She is also extremely wealthy, especially since she assumes control of Ra's' organization and joins forces with Talia. Like her father and half-sister, she knows Batman's secret identity and the location of the Batcave.
In the Batcave, a Lazarus Pit was created by Batman after he learned that the Pits were necessary to maintain the stability of the world. A third seems to exist high in the Himalayas, used by Black Adam to revive Isis. A fourth Lazarus Pit was revealed to exist in the Australian outback; and a fifth in Tibet.
During "Infinite Crisis", Nyssa and her sister connive to use Talia's membership in Luthor's Secret Society of Super Villains in order to take over the planet. Nyssa tries to recruit Batgirl (as Cassandra Cain) to stand at her side as "The One Who Is All". She attempts to explain why she is working with the villains of the Society to Batgirl:
"Vast stockpiles of food rot, while people starve. Millions die from curable diseases, while drug companies rake in the billions. Our environment chokes on our waste, becoming so toxic that life fails. It's genocide by greed, apathy, and neglect. These are the real crimes. Something must change".
"But. They're evil".
"The Society's plans are vast. They will succeed. I can't stop them. When the world gets a true taste of violent oppression, and their heroes lie dead and broken – apathy will die. That's when you'll lead my league to sanction key society members. Leaving Talia and I to lead the revolution. A new world will be born, one of peace and equality. Millions of lives will be saved".
Cassandra refuses, and, along with Mr. Freeze, escapes from Nyssa's grasp.
In "One Year Later", Nyssa is seen in Northern Africa, planning an unknown plot with two terrorists. As she gets into her car to leave, it explodes. In the following issue, Lady Shiva reports that Nyssa Raatko is dead where she was probably killed by the League of Assassins.
In other media
- Nyssa appears as a recurring character in the CW series Arrow, portrayed by Katrina Law. Her existence is first hinted at in the episode "League of Assassins", when a member of the League of Assassins refers to "the child of Ra's al Ghul". She first appears in season two, where she is established as having saved the life of Oliver Queen's ex-girlfriend Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), later recruiting her into the League and becoming her lover. She spends much of season two attempting to recruit Sara back to the League, before teaming up with Oliver and his allies to take down Deathstroke (Manu Bennett). In season three, she rages against Oliver when someone is responsible for Sara's murder and trains Sara's sister Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) to follow in Sara's footsteps. She and Oliver are later married as part of Ra's al Ghul's (Matt Nable) scheme to recruit a worthy successor; together they kill him. In season four, she opposes Laurel's reckless scheme to resurrect Sara using the Lazarus Pit, but is delighted when a resurrected Sara is eventually restored to sanity by John Constantine (Matt Ryan). She also gets revenge on Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), Sara's killer, by taking the League from his control and disbanding it, and comforts Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) after Laurel dies.
- Law reprises her role in the spin-off series DC's Legends of Tomorrow episode "River of Time" appearing alongside Lotz as Sara Lance once again. It's also revealed that Nyssa's first meeting with Sara is the result of a Bootstrap paradox as the 2016 Sara becomes marooned in 1958 and rejoins the league until 1960 when her friends come to rescue her, she tells Ra's to send his yet to be born daughter Nyssa to Lian Yu in 2008, where Nyssa met that version of Sara. It's also revealed that Nyssa has a half-sister named Talia.
- Nyssa Raatko is referenced in Batman: Arkham Origins. She is mentioned on Lady Shiva's assassin profile as an associate of Lady Shiva alongside David Cain and Richard Dragon.
- Nyssa Raatko appears in Batman: Arkham Knight, voiced by Jennifer Hale. Like the comics, Nyssa is depicted as Ra's al Ghul's daughter. She leads a rebellious faction of the League of Assassins. She appears in the "Season of Infamy" DLC in the "Shadow War" story. Nyssa is leading a rebellious faction of the League of Assassins. When Batman arrives at a previously-unknown secondary Lazarus pit (separate from the one located in Wonder City) and prepares to blow it up after taking a sample, Nyssa confronts him along with a few of her separatist forces. She takes the detonator and reasons with Batman that each time Ra's al Ghul is resurrected, he becomes less and less of a man, and gives him an ultimatum: deny him the remnants of the Lazarus and she will recall all her forces from Gotham taking the war elsewhere. After detonating the explosive gel that Batman sprayed all over the pit, Nyssa leaves Batman to his own devices. When Batman returns to Elliot Memorial Hospital where Ra's al Ghul is hooked up to a constant supply of Lazarus, Batman can go with one of two choices both of them involving Nyssa:
- Batman can give the Lazarus to Ra's al Ghul at which point Batman is forced to fight Nyssa and her separatists. Not soon after, Ra's al Ghul regains his former strength and remarks that Nyssa is a traitor where he slashes her torso. Batman tries to fight him, but Ra's al Ghul steals one of his smoke bombs and disappears. Batman offers to save Nyssa with the remaining Lazarus, but she refuses. Batman comforts Nyssa in her dying moments and closes her eyes before he leaves.
- Batman can deny Ra's al Ghul and after he takes care of Ra's al Ghul's loyalists, Nyssa arrives to see what her father has ultimately become. As she is about to strike him down, Batman stops her and says that he will take him to the GCPD. Nyssa is sated and lives up to her word, recalling all her forces from Gotham while Batman takes Ra's al Ghul to a special cell and straps him to a gurney.
- Death and The Maidens #8 (May 2004)
- Robin (vol. 4) #148 (May 2006)
- Robin (vol. 4) #149 (June 2006)