A Lazarus Pit is a fictional natural phenomenon appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Lazarus pits are primarily found in the Batman titles and are commonly used by Ra's al Ghul for their restorative powers.
Ra's al Ghul accidentally discovered natural pools of restorative chemicals while trying to cure a sultan's dying son. He dubbed them "Lazarus Pits", after the Biblical figure who was raised from the dead. A side effect of the pit's restorative abilities revealed itself as the revived 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 prolonged his life as well as the lives of his uncle and the boy Huwe. He eventually killed the boy, and his uncle went missing. From that time he alone used the pits until he fathered two daughters, Nyssa and Talia. Nyssa has used the pits from time to time but it is unknown if Talia has done so.
It was not until he met Batman that others learned of the existence of the Lazarus Pits. 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 Oliver Queen.
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.
Bane and Batman destroyed nearly all the pits. Supposedly only one pit still exists, but there are actually five. The first belongs to Ra's al Ghul's daughter, Nyssa, who discovered a way to use the pits indefinitely (originally each 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 keep it out of the reach of Ra's. A third exists high in the Himalayas, the one used by Black Adam to revive Isis. A fourth Lazarus Pit was revealed to exist in the Australian outback, and the fifth is 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 abilities but does not appear to confer insanity on the user. Having returned to life in a crumbling body, Ra's seeks a permanent young one to take as host, and he chooses his grandson, Damian. After a fight with the Sensei, who claims 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. Because Sensei is healthy, he is killed by the chemicals in the Pit, but Batman is healed fully and rejuvenated.
Powers and composition
Lazarus Pits are composed of a unique unknown green 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 staves 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 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 once for each person. However, Ra's al Ghul's daughter, Nyssa, discovered a way to make the Lazarus Pits last indefinitely, though it has been known to have side effects too. 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 former Robin, puts Bruce Wayne's corpse into a Lazarus Pit located in England, accompanied by Batwoman, Knight and Squire. However, it was soon revealed that the corpse was that of an insane clone created by Darkseid, with its insanity causing it to attack those present at the 'resurrection', forcing Grayson to put Batwoman in the Pit to save her life.
- 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 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); the circumstances of his exposure to the Pits have prompted fan speculation that Ra's's personality affected Jason's.
- 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 aftermath during his Pit-induced madness. 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.
Superman/Batman: Absolute Power
During an alternate timeline where the original members of the JLA had been killed, Batman never existed as the Waynes never died, and Superman was absent while travelling through time after trying to restore history, Ra's al Ghul conquered the world without Batman to oppose him. Seeking to restore the timeline, Superman recruited Bruce Wayne for aid, restoring enough of his conscious memory of his time as Batman, and using a Lazarus 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, the heroes lasted long enough for Superman and Batman to confront Ra's and defeat their enemies to restore the timeline to normal.
Superman & Batman: Generations
In Superman & Batman: Generations, after a retired Bruce Wayne makes his way to the League of Assassins' secret headquarters, Ra's al Ghul offers Batman a chance at immortality as he has discovered a means of gaining true immortality (without the madness) from one Lazarus Pit. The process requires two souls to enter the Pit at once, with one soul perishing while the other is imbued with youth and immortality without needing to return to the Pit. Ra's does admit that it cannot be predicted which of them will emerge from the Pit. Batman accepts Ra's' offer as his only alternative is to be killed by Ra's' men. It is Batman who survives the process, which has now restored his youth and vitality, slowed his aging process and renders him effectively immortal (He is not, however, a "true" immortal; in the year 2919, Wayne tells Superman that the effects of the Pit are wearing off, so that he is now aging again, albeit slowly and only one year for every century that passes).
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. 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 Batman Beyond’s future, 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 to his elderly state within about a week after using the pit.
- On Arrow, the Lazarus Pit is used to heal Thea Queen after she is mortally wounded by Ra's al Ghul. Subsequently, Thea experiences periods of "bloodlust" in which she feels compelled to kill. In the fourth season, Laurel Lance uses the same pit to resurrect her sister, Sara, more than a year after her death. Sara is revived in a feral state in which she violently attacks anyone she sees. Nyssa is disgusted by the result, and destroys the pit. Malcolm Merlyn later reveals that the bloodlust effect can only be permanently alleviated if the victim kills her murderer, denying relief to Thea because Ra's is already dead and with Sara's feral state initially attacking women who resemble Thea after Thea killed her while drugged. John Constantine determines that Sara is violently feral because the Pit retained her soul; he performs a ritual to release Sara's soul and reunite it with her body, restoring her to sanity apart from a slightly increased inclination to lethal force. In the spin-off Legends of Tomorrow, Sara confirms that she still suffers from the bloodlust, but it is less lethal than Thea's, attributed to Constantine's ritual to restore her soul, gaining further control after spending two years training with the League of Assassins between 1958 and 1960 after an attack by Chronos forced the team to leave her behind. In Arrow, Thea's own bloodlust is eventually cured by a potion provided by Nyssa after she reaches a point where her body begins to destroy itself as she resists the urge to kill.
- In the animated 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 that the pit had not damaged him at all and this was who he truly was.
- The film Son of Batman features two Lazarus pits. The first is under Ra's al Ghul's base. Ra's almost makes it to the pit after receiving fatal wounds during Deathstroke's attack. However, he dies on its rim, and Talia states his wounds (severe burns and other injuries from gunship rockets) are beyond it. Another pit is under the sea bottom, off the Outer Hebrides. Ra's built an oil rig above it as a disguise. An entire base was built around it as well, serving as Deathstroke's hideout at the end of the movie. According to him, the pit's substance was being harvested and sold to the highest bidder. At the end of the movie, it is used to revive Talia al Ghul, who was severely tortured and then shot by Deathstroke. Then, damage to the base causes the pit to be flooded with seawater.
- In Justice League vs. Teen Titans, it was revealed that Trigon created the Lazarus Pits.
- A Lazarus Pit is featured in the video game Batman: Arkham City. Ra's al Ghul first used the Lazarus chemical 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 repeatedly 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 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 (however, Ra's and Talia's bodies mysteriously disappear following their deaths later on in the game, suggesting that there may be more than one Pit). 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, 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.
- More Lazarus Pits are feature in the video game Batman: Arkham Knight in The Season of Infamy DLC. Ra's al Ghul had survived the events of Arkham City and was moved to a Lazarus Pit beneath Elliot Memorial Hospital to hide from rebel Assassins led by Nyssa Raatko, the Pit barely keeping him alive. When discovered by Batman, his loyalists demand that he retrieve a sample of pure Lazarus from the rebels, playing on his morality by stating that a civil war amongst the League would destroy Gotham. When Batman find the pure Pit and takes a sample and prepares to destroy it, he is confronted by Nyssa. She reasoned with Batman that each time her father enters the Pit, he becomes less and less of a man, and gives him an ultimatum: deny him the remnants of the Lazarus, and she will recall all her forces from Gotham, taking the war elsewhere. After detonating the explosive gel that Batman sprayed all over the Pit, Nyssa leaves Batman to his own devices. Upon returning to the hospital, Batman can choose either to give the pure Lazarus to Ra's or destroy his life support system.
In the Batman Begins novelization (which has more backstory added by Dennis O'Neil), 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.