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Talia has all the earmarks of a “Bond girl”: Beguiling beauty, dubious motivations, an eco-terrorist father, and a pipeline to the hero's libido— only she exists in the world of Batman, not 007. The beloved daughter of Ra's al Ghul, the international criminal mastermind aka “the Demon's Head,” Talia al Ghul (aka Talia Head) first appeared as a damsel in distress in DC Comics' Detective Comics #411 (1971), by writer Denny O'Neil and penciler Bob Brown. After being felled by assassins under the command of Dr. Ebenezer Darrk, a severely beaten Batman is unmasked and cared for by Talia, a fellow captive. Forced by the baleful Darrk into a bullfight to save Talia's life, Batman is astonished as the exotic young woman reveals her resourcefulness by shooting Darrk, sending him flailing to his death before an oncoming train. When next seen in Batman #232 (1971), by O'Neil and artist Neal Adams, Talia has been kidnapped, along with Batman's teenage aide Robin, and the Caped Crusader is lured by Ra's al Ghul on a perilous Himalayan rescue mission. The dual abduction is a ruse, a test of Batman's worthiness to marry his daughter, who loves him. As their complex story slowly unfolds over the next few years, the altruistic Batman is offered but refuses al Ghul's throne, but finds Talia irresistible, stealing kisses from her as he upends her father's machinations, forming one of comics' most compelling relationship triangles. Talia may love Batman, whom she knows to be Bruce Wayne, but her loyalty remains to her father, who raised his daughter single-handedly (not counting al Ghul's surfeit of servants) after her mother died. Under al Ghul's tutelage, Talia became an expert warrior, marksman, and businesswoman (Batman: Birth of the Demon, 1992). Her father's contrariety with Batman led al Ghul to encourange a reluctant Talia into coquetry with Bane, the brutish crimelord who temporarily crippled Batman by breaking his back. Talia's business acumen inspired Lex Luthor to tap her as CEO of LexCorp upon his 2000 election to the U.S. presidency, but she proved to truly be her father's daughter by later duplicitly working against Luthor. Talia discovered the existence of her venomous half-sister Nyssa in Batman: Death and the Maidens, the 2003–2004 maxiseries in which her sibling killed her father. Talia resurfaced once again working for Luthor in 2005, this time as one of his inner circle of criminals called the Society in the miniseries Villains United. With perfidy as her family credo and a doomed love affair as her heart, Talia can only be trusted to guarantee surprises. In the 1987 graphic novel Batman: Son of the Demon by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham, Talia was revealed to be carrying Batman's child; she claimed to have lost the baby but an epilogue showed the infant in an orphanage. Son of the Demon was later deemed out of continuity by DC, but the adult life of the child, named Ibn al Xu'ffasch, has been explored in “Elseworlds” tales. Movie Supergirl Helen Slater voiced Talia in episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995); a tie-in action figure followed from Kenner.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.