Ra’s Al Ghul and Vandal Savage share a common niche as long-lived villains who routinely battle Batman. Despite this common ground, the two immortals have never been officially connected and rarely interacted.
This changed with a preview of Batman #138, by Chip Zdarsky, Jorge Jimenez, and Tomeu Morey. The comic confirms that Ra’s Al Ghul and Vandal Savage share a common power source. The meteor that made Savage immortal is revealed to be one of many, which decayed to form the Lazarus Pits utilized by Ra’s Al Ghul.
Vandal Savage first appeared in Green Lantern #10 in 1943. He was originally presented as a million year old caveman made immortal by a glowing meteor. Recent stories set his age at fifty thousand years old. In either case, Savage was a continual enemy of the Justice Society and Justice League.
Ra’s Al Ghul is a more recent creation and younger than Vandal Savage in the DC Universe. Ra’s first appeared in Batman #232 in 1971. The founder of the League of Assassins, Ra’s extended his life through the use of special alchemical pools. These Lazarus Pits can heal the sick and raise the dead, but their repeated use brings insanity.
The madness sparked by the Lazarus Pits is one way that Ra’s immortality is more limited than Savage’s. While the Lazarus Pits can prolong life, they do not make the user invulnerable to physical harm. There is also a limit to how many times a Lazarus Pit can be used. By contrast, Vandal Savage is blessed with accelerated healing as well as a long life, making him nearly immortal.
Is Vandal Savage Dying?
However, the Batman #138 preview suggests this may be changing, as Ra’s allows Vandal Savage to make use of a Lazarus Pit. This should not be necessary if Savage is truly immortal. Ra’s also implies this with his declaration that Savage is “less than you once were” and a warning the Lazarus Pit might not be enough to save him. This sudden mortality may explain Savage’s interest in Gotham City and his involvement in the Gotham War event.
Batman #138 releases on October 3rd, 2023.