|“||You go in dead. You come out insane.||„|
|~ Batman about the Lazarus Pits.|
The Lazarus Pits (sometimes called "The Pits") which are the natural phenomenon in the DC Comics Universe, are mysterious fluid-filled pools with mystical and alchemical properties in the earth that would regenerate and even revive the dead or dying and kill the healthy, though with some side effects, most famously bouts of insanity, though other long-term effects include dependency. They are commonly used by Ra's Al Ghul, founder and leader of the League of Assassins, for their restorative powers and used to save the lives of those close to death.
Lazarus Pits were accidentally discovered by Ra's al Ghul in an effort to cure a dying prince of the sultan he worked for. Ra's al Ghul dug a pit where he discovered the restorative chemical pools that he dubbed Lazarus Pits for their abilities to heal those at death's door. After using the pit to save the life of the prince, a side effect of the pit's restorative abilities revealed itself as the prince went mad and killed Ra's al Ghul's wife, Sora. Blamed for his wife's murder, Ra's al Ghul was left to die, buried in the desert, but was soon rescued by his own tribe and a boy named Huwe. Afterward, he used the tribe to gain vengeance for what happened to him and proceeded to call himself the "Head of the Demon".
For centuries, the pits served the purpose of prolonging his life as well as the lives of his uncle and the boy Huwe. However, he eventually killed the boy and his uncle went missing. From that time he alone used the pits until he eventually fathered two daughters, Nyssa and Talia. Nyssa has used the pits from time to time but it is unknown if Talia has utilized them.
It was not until he met Batman that others who were not close to him learned of the existence of the Lazarus Pits around the world. Others who have either discovered or used the pits include: Jason Todd, the second Black Canary (Dinah Laurel Lance), the Riddler, Cassandra Cain, Lady Shiva, the Joker, Kobra, Nora Fries, King Snake, Duela Dent, Wonder Woman, and Bane. Ra's al Ghul, during a hospitable period, revived Dr. Brian Bryan, a close friend of Azrael.
Kobra analyzed and duplicated the chemical composition of the pits and used this information to build his own network, something Batman would discover during their very first meeting. The unique chemical composition of Kobra's Lazarus Pits enabled him to control the minds of those he resurrected.
Beyond him, however, Bane and Batman together also served an important role in the history of Lazarus Pits as they destroyed nearly all pits on Earth. Now while supposedly only one pit exists, there are actually five remaining. The first belongs to Ra's al Ghul's daughter, Nyssa, who also discovered a way to use the pits indefinitely — whereas before a pit could only be used once. The second is located in the Batcave, created by Batman after he learned that the Pits were necessary to maintain the stability of the world, but wanting to ensure that Ra's could never use the pit to return from the dead again. A third seems to exist high in the Himalayas, used by Black Adam to revive his wife Isis. A fourth Lazarus Pit was revealed to exist in the Australian outback; and the fifth in Tibet.
In "The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul", it is revealed that Ra's al Ghul has access to a "Fountain of Essence," which has similar longevity, rejuvenation, and youth restoration abilities, but it does not appear to have the insanity side effect. Having returned to life in a crumbling body, Ra's seeks a permanent young one to take as host, which he decides to be his grandson, Damian. After a fight with the Sensei, who declares himself to be Ra's al Ghul's father, Batman is stabbed with a cane in the chest and pulls the Sensei down into the pit with him. Sensei is killed for being an unsick user, but Batman is healed to full health and slightly de-aged.
In the 52 limited series, week 6, Booster Gold enters Rip Hunter's lab to find a chalkboard filled with cryptic clues on different aspects of the DC Universe. One of them was the clue, "The Lazarus Pit RISES".
Powers and Composition
Lazarus Pits are composed of a unique unknown chemical blend that bubbles up somewhere within the Earth's crust to the surface at key points on Earth, typically at the junction of ley lines. The substance possesses the ability to rejuvenate the sick and injured, and even resurrect the dead. The pits also decrease the age of the user depending on how long they stay submerged in the pit. If a healthy person goes into the pits, they will be killed in most instances.
In addition to the pits' regenerative uses, their power has also been used as a weapon. When Nyssa confronts the Injustice Society, she claims that the staffs wielded by her soldiers "channel the power of the Lazarus Pits" and have the ability to destroy both Solomon Grundy and Gentleman Ghost.
Though Lazarus Pits are undeniably powerful and useful, they come with side effects, both of which happen immediately after the user emerges. The user both becomes temporarily insane (although when it was used on the Joker, it temporarily rendered him sane) and gains increased strength for a brief period.
Each of the Lazarus Pits can only be used one time by a user. However, Ra's al Ghul's daughter, Nyssa, discovered a way to make the Lazarus Pits last indefinitely, though it has been known to backfire. Nora Fries was transformed into a lava-based being and driven permanently insane after using one of Nyssa's pits.
The Lazarus Pits have been used by multiple characters throughout the Batman universe, which include:
- Ra's al Ghul, the most notable user of the pits, who has used them to cheat death and stay in his prime for centuries.
- In the seventh issue of Batman and Robin, Dick Grayson, the current Batman, put Bruce Wayne's corpse into a Lazarus Pit located in England, only to learn that the corpse was that of an insane clone created by Darkseid.
- Ra's al Ghul's daughter, Nyssa was at first allowed to use her father's Lazarus Pits due to his respect for her ability; and even after her dissent from him, she was allowed to keep one for her use. Later, she found a way to reuse the pit indefinitely, whereas before a pit could only be used once for each person.
- After being restored to life by Superboy-Prime's disruption of reality and following his murder at the hands of the Joker, Jason Todd becomes an amnesiac vagrant. Later he is recognized by Talia al Ghul, who restores his health and memory by immersing him in a Lazarus Pit in which her father, Ra's Al Ghul, also bathed. (Following Jason's original death, Batman had briefly contemplated using a Lazarus Pit to restore him, but rejected the option on the grounds that the cranial trauma Jason had suffered prior to his death made it unlikely that he would ever be mentally stable after such an ordeal.)
- In Birds of Prey #34, the second Black Canary (Dinah Laurel Lance) was put in a Lazarus Pit after being seriously wounded. In Birds of Prey #35, the pit was shown to also restore her metahuman ability, the Canary Cry; and though not explicitly stated in the issue, it was implied that she also gained the ability to have children again. Both abilities were previously hindered before her exposure to the pit.
- The Riddler, in the 12-part storyline "Hush". was revealed to be suffering from cancer in the form of a brain tumor. He used one of Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits to cure himself of the disease, also managing to work out Batman's identity in the process. Batman promised Riddler that he would alert the League of Assassins to his use of the Pit if Riddler ever revealed his identity.
- Cassandra Cain was killed by her "adoptive brother," the Mad Dog, while heroically saving one of the students under her leadership. She later was revived by Lady Shiva in the Lazarus Pit, who then answered Cassandra's questions of her parentage.
- Lady Shiva, after battling with the newly-resurrected Cassandra Cain, was killed and assumed to have fallen into the Lazarus Pit, as she later was found to be alive.
- Kobra, after learning of the existence of Lazarus Pits, learned to build modified pits that allowed him to control the minds of those he killed and resurrected with them. Because of this, like Ra's al Ghul, he too has a hidden network of Lazarus Pits and is also credited as the only person to ever decipher the formula of the composition that makes up the pits.
- In return for creating a machine for Nyssa Raatko and her group, Mr. Freeze was given access to her Lazarus Pit to restore his wife, Nora Fries. However, due to her years of being altered, she had absorbed the pits alchemical properties, giving her the power to conjure flames and reanimate the dead. Now calling herself Lazara, she claims to hate Mr. Freeze, though he still seeks her with the hope of the two being reunited.
- When King Snake rebelled and declared himself the next Naja-Naja, he healed his eyes in a Lazarus Pit, restoring his eyesight.
- Duela Dent claims to have been resuscitated by a Lazarus Pit in a short story contained in Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files #2.
- Bane saved Batman from being shot by King Snake, although he was mortally wounded in the process. To return the favor, Batman then saved Bane by bathing him in a Lazarus Pit and left him to his own devices.
- In Black Adam: The Dark Age, Black Adam is seen using a Lazarus Pit located in the Himalayas in order to resurrect his dead wife, Isis. This is an atypical use, since Isis was severely decomposed.
- In Batman Annual: Head of the Demon, a servant of Ra's al Ghul known as the White Ghost attempts to trick Talia al Ghul into allowing her son, Damian Wayne, to sacrifice his body in the Australian Lazarus Pit in order to provide Ra's al Ghul with a new body for his displaced soul to inhabit.
- In Batman & Robin, Kate Kane Batwoman and a Bruce Wayne Clone use the pit for resurrection, assisted by Dick Grayson and Knight and Squire.
- During an alternate timeline where the original members of the JLA had been killed, Superman and Batman used the Pit to resurrect Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter using their skeletons. Though the resurrections were imperfect, creating undead copies of the men they had formerly been, rather than complete resurrections, due to short exposure time and the length of time that they had been dead.
Superman & Batman: Generations
In Superman & Batman: Generations, Ra's al Ghul offers Batman a chance at immortality as he discovered a means of gaining true immortality (without the madness) from one Lazarus Pit. In the process, two souls enter and the Pit destroys one while imbuing the other with youth and immortality, Batman accepting the offer as Ra's cannot predict which of them will come out of the Pit and his only alternative is to be killed by Ra's's men. Batman survives this process, subsequently becoming immortal (Although, he is not a true immortal as he ages one year for every century that passes). With Ra's al Ghul gone, he uses his criminal empire to set up an anti-crime information network, subtly changing the organization's goals so that the rest of the members would assume that it was a cover for a criminal plan until the 'cover' became the real organization.
Batman Begins novelization
In the Batman Begins novelization, a reference to "The Pit" appeared in Ra's al Ghul's journals. The Pit's history (chronicled in a manuscript Bruce photographs at an Olympus Gallery in New York City after returning home) matches its history in the comics. However, there appears to be only one. The side effects of being immersed in the Pit (madness and violence) are still present.
In Other Media
In Batman: The Animated Series, two Lazarus Pits appear in the two-part episode "The Demon's Quest". One is in Ra's al Ghul's mountain lair and the other in his desert lair. The first is used to rejuvenate Ra's al Ghul after he falls ill; the second is shown as the stage in an apparent battle to the death between him and Batman, where Ra's al Ghul appears to die after plunging into the pit afterward.
In Superman: The Animated Series, a Lazarus Pit appears briefly in a flashback in the episode "The Demon Reborn".
In Batman Beyond, a Lazarus Pit appears in the episode "Out of the Past". It is used to rejuvenate an elderly Bruce Wayne back to his prime. However, this all turns out to be a ruse by Ra's al Ghul to transfer his mind (which is currently in his daughter, Talia, where he transferred himself after his last battle with Batman left him too badly injured for even the Pit to heal) into the now-youthful Bruce's body. In the Batman Beyond future timeline, the process of using the Lazarus Pits has become much safer; however, although the pit's restorative powers make Bruce's body more youthful, because of his age in the series, he would require multiple doses for the effects to be long-lasting. That is why Bruce reverts back to his elderly state within about a week after using the pit.
In the film Batman: Under the Red Hood, Ra's al Ghul successfully uses the pit to revive Jason Todd, the second Robin, who was killed by the Joker. However, Jason returns "damaged" and goes on a rampage, killing several servants of Ra's al Ghul's and escaping into the mountains. Later, Jason resurfaces as the murderous vigilante Red Hood and during his final confrontation with Batman, he theorises if it was his bath in the pits that turned him "rabid" or if the pits merely brought out his true nature.
A Lazarus Pit is featured in the video game Batman: Arkham City. Ra's al Ghul first used the "Lazarus Chemical", the source of the Lazarus Pits to power Wonder City with natural, clean energy, and realized the medical capabilities of the Lazarus chemical, predicting it could even ward off death. This was proven after the dead Solomon Grundy was resurrected after being thrown into a swamp filled with the chemical, and Ra's studied the phenomenon by repeated murdering Grundy, only for him to rise again as his body has absorbed the Lazarus chemicals completely. Eventually, the inhabitants of Wonder City were sent to the newly built Gotham City and Arkham Asylum, as the maddening side effects of the chemical became obvious after several weeks of exposure to Lazarus. Ra's later returned to Wonder City years later and began using it to revive himself (and later his daughter) for several centuries, though it appears that this is the world's only Lazarus Pit, explaining why Ra's had to return to Gotham. When Batman finds Ra's and Talia's base in Wonder City, a horribly wounded and near-dead Ra's uses the Lazarus Pit to duel the Dark Knight himself, rising in perfect health to fight Batman. The Pit is surrounded by large machinery that connect to a massive lightning rod which apparently powers the Pit. Ra's reveals after the fight that he has become addicted to the Pit's chemicals, and has become afraid of what will happen to himself if he keeps using it, though this dependency has not happened to Talia. Later on, Talia al Ghul offers the Joker immortality in exchange for Batman's life, and during Batman's fight with Clayface in the Monarch Theatre the Joker destroys the Theatre's floor, sending the combatants into the chamber that contains the Lazarus Pit. After Clayface is beaten Batman destroys the Pit by cutting a cord holding machinery over the Pit and knocking both the machine and Clayface into the Pit, causing a large explosion and effectively destroying it. This is the first version of the Lazarus Pit that requires any mechanical device to support it, and is also responsible for the origins of the immortal zombie Solomon Grundy.