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A Lazarus Pit is a natural phenomenon in the DC Comics universe. They are primarily found in the Batman titles and are commonly used by Ra's al Ghul for their restorative powers.
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 an experimental chemical pit where he discovered the restorative chemical pools that he dubbed a Lazarus Pit for its 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, 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. Both have used the pits from time to time.
It was not until he met Batman that others who weren't 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 Black Canary II (Dinah Laurel Lance), The Riddler, Cassandra Cain, Lady Shiva, Kobra, Nora Fries, King Snake, Duela Dent, and Bane. Ra's, 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: the destruction of nearly all pits on Earth. Now while supposedly only one pit exists, there are actually four 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 Himalaya mountains, used by Black Adam to revive Isis. In Batman Annual #26, published August 2007, a fourth Lazarus Pit was revealed to exist in the Australian outback.
In Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul, it is revealed that 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 father, Batman is stabbed via 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 deaged.
In the DC limited series 52, 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, 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.
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 survives this process, subsequently becoming immortal (Although he is not a true immortal, as he ages one year for every century). With Ra's al Ghul gone he uses his criminal empire to set up an anti-crime information network.
Batman Begins Novelization
In the Batman Begins novelization (which has more backstory added by Dennis O'Neill), 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 the dunking in the Pit (madness and violence) are still present.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, two Lazarus Pits appear in the two part episode "The Demon's Quest": one in Ra's al Ghul's mountain lair and another 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 afterwards.
- In Superman: The Animated Series, a Lazarus Pit appears briefly in a flash back in the episode "The Demon Reborn".
- In Batman Beyond, a Lazarus Pit appears in "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 Batman Beyond's future, the process of using the Lazarus Pits has become much safer and, 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.
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 how she does this is never revealed.
- Ra's al Ghul, is the most notable user of the pits who has used them to cheat death and stay in his prime for centuries.
- 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.
- In Birds of Prey #34, The Black Canary II (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, but 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", 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 Lazarus Pits which 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 Lazarus 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 alchemic 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 eye sight.
- Duela Dent claims to have been resuscitated by a Lazarus Pit in a short story contained in the Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files #2
- Uncharacteristically, Bane saved Batman from being shot by King Snake however 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 accord.
- 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 named 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 with a new body for his displaced soul to inhabit.