The Tao of Lady Shiva

Any conversation about the greatest soldierly artists in the DC Universe inevitably turns to the schoolmarm of soldierly arts : Sandra Woosan, the insuperable Lady Shiva. Batman and Oracle ’ s files alike have listed Shiva as a potential menace best avoided if possible, as her skills in single combat excel even the Dark Knight ’ s own. Based on this, one might imagine that Lady Shiva could be counted among Batman ’ s greatest villains, but the accuracy is much more complicated—it would be just as faulty to call Lady Shiva a villain as it would be to call her a hero .
Since the 1970s, Shiva has worked alongside some of the greatest heroes and villains on Earth, from the Birds of Prey to the League of Assassins. As a number who doesn ’ thyroxine hang within the traditional spectrum of good and malefic, Shiva has always been a difficult character to define in distinctive DC terms. Lady Shiva is not motivated to protect or subjugate others, but by a lone quest of self-betterment. Wherever Shiva can find a new gamble or experience, wherever she can find a newfangled skill to further her double interests in creation and end, that ’ s where you ’ ll find her—no matter whether Batman or Ra ’ s aluminum Ghul is pulling the strings .
Shiva has been many things under many writers, but despite what you may have listen, her most important trait is not that she can defeat even the greatest fighters with one finger. It ’ s the experience of being humbled by an insurmountable foe and the position gained from that loss. Shiva is a woman on a neverending quest for self-definition. And, in that summons, those whose lives she enters gain a better understanding of themselves .
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dame Shiva was primitively created to fill a void. In the 1970s, Denny O ’ Neil and Jim Berry authored a pulp novel borrowing heavily from the tropes of contemporary kung fu films of the day called Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter. As a writer for DC, O ’ Neil and Berry adapted their short novel into the beginning four issues of a martial arts comedian of the same name. The merely problem was that by the end of emergence # 4, they were out of fib and down a precede lady. The hero Richard Dragon ’ s love interest, Carolyn Woosan, had been killed by the end of the bible .
immediately alone on the championship, Denny moved the report advancing by introducing Carolyn ’ s sister—the avenging Sandra Woosan, who placed the incrimination for Carolyn ’ s death on Richard himself. By the end of her beginning appearance in Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter # 5, Shiva and Richard had hashed out their differences and a genial personality came out that was wholly unlike her reserved and bookish sister. The Lady Shiva of the 1970s was a daredevil thrillseeker, joining Richard and their ally Ben Turner ( who would late become Bronze Tiger ) on an international mission of spycraft and gamble fair for the playfulness of being there. She called herself Lady Shiva after the Hindu god of destruction and creation, and was always promptly with a wry, dry antic about her feminine infirmity before beating anyone fool adequate to oppose her to a sensitive pulp .
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When Richard Dragon ended in 1977, Shiva vanished along with him for a wax ten. She wouldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate return until a fresh serial written by Denny O ’ Neil in 1987, DC ’ s sword newfangled take on a faceless hero they had just acquired from Charlton Comics, The Question.
In the years which had passed since Kung Fu Fighter, O ’ Neil had turned from a superficial pastime in chinese natural process movies to a deeper yearn to explore Eastern philosophy, and the spiritual quest to become a better man. Before O ’ Neil ’ s shape with the question, Vic Sage was an ideologically rigid emblem of the ideals and politics of his godhead, Steve Ditko, who insisted on the being of objective morality. In Ditko ’ south earth, the difference between well and evil was simple to understand. And if you pretended it wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate, that just meant you were probably trying to get away with something you know you shouldn ’ triiodothyronine be .
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In The Question # 1, Denny reintroduced a more mature Lady Shiva into the Question ’ second populace as an about mystic emblem of a world he couldn ’ t even comprehend. She was there, apparently, to seek modern challenges and adventures as a materialistic for hire. But in her beginning confrontation with a bona fide superhero, Shiva found something more matter to : person she could build, possibly someday, into a proper rival. All she had to do first was expand his mind .
She began with a two-step serve. First, she destroyed him, in both body and self, in a one crusade. then, using an matchless ( and honestly, underutilized ) skill in the bring around arts, she returned him to biography, leaving him in the worry of her erstwhile acquaintance Richard Dragon. Presented with a foe who would not only slay him without a second think, but resurrect him with everything he needed to realize a better animation, Vic understood for what may have been the first gear fourth dimension that people were more complicate than he had ever imagined. Under Richard and Shiva ’ mho watch, the question grew into a more complex hero than he had always been earlier .
It wouldn ’ thyroxine be the end meter Shiva would change a hero ’ s life .
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At the lapp clock Denny O ’ Neil was writing The wonder, he was besides becoming the Group Editor for DC ’ s Batman titles. When Shiva crosses Batman ’ s way in A Death in the Family as a likely candidate for Jason Todd ’ s give birth mother, she fights Batman to a stand for the first time. From this detail on, comics would recognize Shiva as not merely a great fighter, but one of the best—a legend which would only grow with time .
As all outstanding non-powered DC characters finally do, Shiva was folded into Batman ’ randomness scope. When the Dark Knight was broken by Bane in Knightfall, it was only Shiva who could retrain him back to his prime. When Batman finally acquiesced to Tim Drake ’ s imperativeness that he needed a Robin in his life, it was Lady Shiva who got the new Boy Wonder ready for the challenges to come. Shiva would even, for a abbreviated fourth dimension, join Oracle ’ s Birds of Prey, with a like eye on Black Canary as a student and rival as she once had for the Question, and Richard Dragon before him. But her most crucial connection, and the kinship which has come to define her for the past twenty years more than any other, was to Cassandra Cain, heir of the Batgirl blanket .
At first, Lady Shiva ’ sulfur interest in Cassandra was apparently no unlike than her interest in other give martial artists in whom she saw electric potential. By challenging Cassandra in her skills and ideals, Shiva brought out the best hero she had always been—once again, as she had done with the wonder, through end and resurrection. finally, their familial bail rose to the forefront, as Shiva was revealed to be the parturition mother to one of Batman ’ s adopted children after all .
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From this luff forth, the question of who Shiva was, where she came from, and what she represented became a matter of debate. Gail Simone wrote of a young Sandra in Birds of Prey from a small chinese village, raised in a tradition of violence to claim the name of Shiva as a title of her ferocity. In Batgirl, Andersen Gabrych developed the picture of a profoundly disturbed Shiva whose thrillseeking drive for dangerous challenges and rivals worthy of her skill covered an across-the-board deathwish. Beginning around Batman : Hush, and continuing until quite recently, Lady Shiva was deployed as a Heavy for the League of Assassins, fiddling more than a threat to punctuate an natural process scene which could raise the stakes for those who remembered the importance her presence once carried .
This vogue would be bucked in 2019 ’ randomness Batman and the Outsiders, when Shiva is once more obviously under control of Ra ’ s aluminum Ghul, alone to defect at the first opportunity and join her own daughter on Batman ’ s black ops team. Without dulling Shiva ’ randomness edges, writer Bryan Hill used this story to bring Shiva a little closer to her roots as an ally to the likes of Richard Dragon and Ben Turner, and as an opportunity to bridge the gulf between Cassandra and her mother. Unlike Cassandra ’ sulfur father, the truthful Shiva, as silent by O ’ Neil on The doubt in the ‘ 80s, felt no motivation to see her daughter become the ultimate weapon—only her best, amply idealized self. And in her company, Shiva was proud to discover that her daughter had about become precisely that. All that was left to Cassandra was a choice : either embrace the identity she craved as Batgirl or find a new aim away from Batman ’ s pluck. It was Shiva ’ s insistence, and her pride, which helped Cassandra make her decision. And surely adequate, you can find Shiva ’ s daughter veracious now as the ace player of Batgirls .
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The true bequest of Lady Shiva international relations and security network ’ t the people she defeats, but the people whose lives she changes through their kill. Richard Dragon, the question and Cassandra Cain would never have achieved true cognition of themselves if they had not been confronted with an obstacle they could not surmount—and who, in their end, would provide the tools to build themselves back into something more. As James Tynion IV wrote of Shiva in Detective Comics, she only serves any arrangement for vitamin a long as she requires to learn what she needs. And then, she moves on .
Shiva is a seeker of cognition, going to any lengths to improve upon the skills for end and creation, that hertz of change and rebirth, which keeps the global moving. indeed, no. lady Shiva is not a Batman villain. Nor is she a hero. lady Shiva is a destroyer. A therapist. A student and a teacher of life.

She ’ mho besides the baddest beget to always walk the earth. Watch yourself should you cross her path, or she precisely might beat your ass then heavily that it changes your entire worldview. And once your bones last reset and your muscles reknit, mark these words—you ’ ll thank her.
Alex Jaffe is the writer of our monthly “ Ask the question ” column and writes about television receiver, movies, comics and superhero history for Follow him on chirrup at @ AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion .
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.

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