The League of Assassins
The League of Assassins(pop culture)
The League of Assassins, a group of highly trained killers-for-hire, first came to light when Batman saved a wealthy shipping magnate from one of its number in a story penned by Denny O'Neil and rendered by Bob Brown in Detective Comics #405 (1970, although oblique references to the organization began, in connection with its agent, the Hook, in Strange Adventures #215, 1968). Later its leader, Dr. Ebenezer Darrk, a tall, lean, lantern-jawed figure, kidnapped Talia, the daughter of the criminal mastermind Ra's al Ghul, due to “a falling-out” between the two. Batman foiled Darrk's plan, which inadvertently resulted in the death of Darrk. Later, Batman learned that al Ghul had been the original leader of the League of Assassins, but that the League had split from his influence when al Ghul and Darrk came to a parting of the ways (perhaps the “falling-out” cited above). Later the League began to operate solely on its own, under its new leader, the Sensei, a deceptively frail-looking Asian martial artist of indeterminate age. To join the League, a prospective member had to perform a successful assassination. However, if the would-be member failed the test, he would die. That so many criminals have joined the League and many more wish to, despite this draconian penalty for failure, speaks to the fear—and the respect—the League and its members have achieved in all corners of the world. The League is by definition a secret order, so a complete list of their victims may never be known. Among their more famous kills was Kathy Kane, aka Batwoman. Over the years, other agents of the League of Assassins have included the Hook, the murderer of Boston Brand, whose spirit became known as Deadman; Ben Turner, aka the Bronze Tiger, a friend of martial-arts master Richard Dragon who was kidnapped by the League and programmed to become one of their operatives (the Tiger later joined the Suicide Squad); Merlyn, a deadly archer who later quit the League and, having failed his assignment to assassinate Batman (Justice League of America #94, 1971), was for a time on the run from them; and Kirigi, a supreme martial artist who has become the League of Assassins' trainer. The League's name was used to identify a group of nondescript martial artists appearing in a comic-book advertisement for Hostess baked treats; the ad, starring Batman, was published in the late 1970s. In comics' pages in the mid-2000s, the League of Assassins can be found, doing their job with their usual efficiency, in Batgirl, the series featuring the mute assassin turned Gotham City crime fighter. The League's appearances in the pop-culture limelight include the television cartoon Batman Beyond (1999–2001), five episodes of which featured Curaré, an operative of the organization; a Vs. System card game featuring the group, in which players choose or discard a League of Assassins character card from their hand; and inclusion into the subtext of Batman Begins (2005, though with a name change, to the League of Shadows), in which viewers learned that Bruce Wayne's transformation from frustrated victim to hero-in-the-making was thanks in part to training he received from the League.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.