34 years ago - Sandra Wu-San is born in a remote village, the daughter of the village protector.
30 years ago - 4-year-old Sandra is forced to begin training to keep her sister safe from her own cruel instructors.
20 years ago - 14-year-old Sandra's sister dies. She abandons her village to pursue her art & joins the League of Assassins, quickly becoming one of Ra's Al Ghul's greatest prodigies. She takes the name Shiva.
18 years ago - 16-year-old Shiva is chosen by the League of Assassins to bear David Cain's child. she gives birth to Cassandra Cain, giving her up to Cain for training.
15 years ago - 19-year-old Shiva acts as the League of Assassins agent in Gotham, testing Batman. She is attacked and tested by the monkey cult, which causes her to question the supremacy of the training of the League. after she fights Richard Dragon & Ben Turner, she concludes that she will learn more with them, and joins them.
13 years ago - 21-year-old Shiva parts ways with Richard Dragon & Ben Turner. She continually travels to expand her skills, working as an assassin.
5 years ago - 29-year-old Shiva helps train Tim Drake, challenging him with his choices regarding the application of violence.
2 years ago - 32-year-old Shiva meets Cassandra Cain. She challenges her to a battle to the death to push her to her full potential.
Lady Shiva was originally a character in the pages of Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter. The series is intrinsically seventies; a white kung-fu master with two sidekicks; a powerful black man and a lethal asian woman. It's clearly a send up of Enter the Dragon and other kung-fu-sploitation cinema of the era, and the obvious ethnocentrism of the premise probably looked pretty forward thinking at the time. Whatever shortcomings the premise might have had, every character in the series has gone on to have a profound impact across the entire DC landscape, none moreso than Sandra Wu-San, the infamous Lady Shiva. She has long been recognized as one of the greatest martial artists on the planet, and is very often used as a benchmark by which other character's prowess is measured. The instant Lady Shiva shows up, you know things are about to get intense.
In researching her backstory, particularly her childhood history and her relationship to David Cain and the League of Assassins, we kept discovering this rather disturbing trend of very acute victimhood. She is almost CONSTANTLY being made the victim of the people around her, sexually or otherwise.
On some level, We can understand the thinking that might lead to this. A character like Shiva is an intensely strong one, powered by a lethal moral compass. It might be easy to imagine that this is the result of her overcoming a variety of victimizations that have backed her into a place of intense moral rigidity, but we can't shake the idea that this seems to rob her of some of her own strength. She isn't allowed to be the author of her own power. She does it as a reaction the the actions of others.
We prefer our intense martial arts assassins to be fueled by their own choices. We've made a deliberate effort to make every major event in her life a product of her own choosing. It's a small change in the long run, but giving her complete control of her life and the directions it took to make her the deadly assassin she became makes her, in our minds, a much more exciting character.