Azrael (DC Comics)
|First appearance||Batman: Sword of Azrael #1|
|Created by||Jean-Paul Valley:|
Azrael is the alias of multiple fictional characters appearing in comic books published by in the DC Comics. The first character to assume the identity of Azrael is Jean-Paul Valley, who was introduced in Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (October 1992) and was created by Denny O'Neil, Joe Quesada, and Peter Milligan. The second one is Michael Washington Lane, in Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #1 (May 2009). Both iterations are vigilantes and members of an assassin group created by the Order of St. Dumas, a secret organisation bent on restoring justice to Gotham City. Azrael is usually depicted as an antihero and ally of the superhero Batman, though the two have also been adversaries due to the former's violent nature and twisted sense of justice indoctrinated by the Order.
The character appeared in the Batman: Arkham series of video games, voiced by Khary Payton. In the FOX television series Gotham, the Azrael alias is used by original character Theo Galavan, portrayed by James Frain.
Jean-Paul Valley was the first character to assume the identity of Azrael, debuting in the four-issue miniseries Batman: Sword of Azrael in 1992. He later briefly assumed the identity of Batman in the Knightfall story arc (1993-1994), after Bruce Wayne was left paralyzed following a fight with Bane.
Michael Washington Lane
Michael Washington Lane originally appeared as Bat-Devil in Batman #665 (June 2007), before later taking on the identity of Azrael in Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #1, published in May 2009.
A number of characters besides Valley and Lane have assumed the identity of Azrael in the DC Universe:
- Valley's father (Jean-Paul/Ludovic Valley) was the previous Azrael, as seen in Batman: Sword of Azrael (referenced by his son as having the same name) and, with more detail, in Azrael Annual #1 (identified as just Ludovic Valley).
- A Chinese man, supposedly given the same training as Valley and an identical costume, is briefly under the control of the Order. Also, the position of the Order of St. Dumas' enforcer has been passed on since medieval times.
- Earlier on in the Azrael series, another man is supposedly selected and trained in the same way as Valley and the Chinese man to be Valley's replacement. He is defeated by Valley and supposedly falls to his death, only to resurface in Gotham early in the Underworld Unleashed crossover event wearing one of Valley's 'Batman' armors and engaging in underground fights after having made a deal with Abra Kadabra (acting on behalf of Neron) for his soul in return for his life.
Powers and abilities
As Azrael, Jean-Paul has enhanced physical abilities. He has been shown to fight at heightened levels even when fatigued, a fact exemplified when Azrael was able to defeat Bane, despite suffering from both extreme exhaustion and Venom withdrawal. He has also been shown to be able to resist an even more potent version of the Venom drug, having been able to break its vast addiction in only one night. Azrael is also a superior fighter; although he lacks technique and style in his fighting moves, he makes up for it with his inhuman speed, reflexes, and agility. Azrael has been able to match Deathstroke in a sword duel and has even defeated Batman in hand-to-hand combat. This is not only due to his martial arts skills, but also due to his inhuman physical abilities.
The original Azrael costume worn by Jean-Paul Valley consists of red and gold armor. After becoming an "Agent of the Bat", he dons silver and black armor with a red cape and a stylized red bat symbol on the chest. Later on, he dons red armor with golden gauntlets, boots, shoulder pads and a blue cape. He sometimes carries a flaming sword, and also uses two retractable daggers hidden in the gauntlets of his costume that can be charged with thermal energy to increase their destructive power. In Batman: The Ultimate Guide to the Dark Knight, Scott Beatty implied that Azrael's changing costumes were reflections of the changes in Azrael's life from an agent of St. Dumas to an agent of the Batman to his own man. The gauntlets were taken by Kate Spencer, the current Manhunter, and are used in her outfit. The New 52 version of Jean-Paul wears a similar costume, and his weapon is a flaming knight sword called Murasame. He also possesses the familiar gauntlet blades as well.
In The Multiversity: The Just, which takes place on the alternate Earth-16 (where the grown sidekicks and children of superheroes live on an Earth free of crime), Damian Wayne, the new Batman, has a variation of Jean Paul's Azrael suit in a glass display in the Batcave.
In other media
- Azrael made his live-action debut in the second season of Gotham, portrayed by James Frain. This incarnation's alter ego is Theo Galavan, a billionaire industrialist who is secretly the heir apparent of the Order of St. Dumas, and uncle of Silver St. Cloud. Galavan is the power behind a group of insane criminals called "The Maniax" who terrorize Gotham, but betrays them by killing their leader, Jerome Valeska, making him a public hero. He is elected Mayor of Gotham with the reluctant help of Oswald Cobblepot, whom he blackmails into killing the other mayoral candidates by holding his mother, Gertrude, hostage. When Galavan's assassin sister, Tabitha kills Gertrude anyway, Cobblepot swears revenge and enters a tenuous alliance with Detective Jim Gordon to bring Galavan down. The two of them eventually expose Galavan's corruption, prevent the Order of St. Dumas from sacrificing Bruce Wayne, destroy his criminal empire, and kill him. In "Wrath of the Villains: Pinewood", Galavan under the alias of "Patient 44" is revived by Hugo Strange, who gives him enhanced physical abilities. Strange's experiments warp Galavan's mind, however; he has no memory of his past life, and believes himself to be Azrael, an ancient immortal warrior who vanquished the Order's enemies. Strange takes advantage of Galavan's delusions by ordering "Azrael" to kill Gordon, gifting him a sword, mask and medieval armor. Galavan attacks the Gotham City Police Department, killing several police officers and wounding its captain, Nathaniel Barnes. In "Wrath of the Villains: Unleashed", Galavan is poised to finally kill Gordon, Alfred and Bruce Wayne at Wayne Manor, when Cobblepot and his henchman Butch Gilzean blow him up with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
- Azrael's name is mentioned in Lucius Fox's journal in the Batwoman episode "A Secret Kept From All The Rest".
- Both the Jean-Paul Valley and Michael Lane versions of Azrael, as well as the Jean-Paul incarnation of Batman are playable characters in Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure.
- The Jean-Paul Valley version of Azrael is a playable character in the Nintendo DS version of Lego Batman: The Videogame, unlocked after achieving "True Hero" on all levels. Additionally, LEGO pieces can be unlocked and used to build Azrael in the character creation feature of the main version of the game.
- The Michael Lane version of Azrael appears as a playable character in the handheld versions of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.
- The Jean-Paul Valley version of Batman appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, via the 75th Anniversary downloadable content.
- Azrael first appears in Batman: Arkham City, as the focus of the "Watcher in the Wings" side mission. After events in the game's main storyline, he can be seen on the rooftops of certain buildings within Arkham City's districts, watching over Batman. When approached, Azrael will disappear in a cloud of smoke, leaving a symbol for Batman to scan. After scanning all the symbols and combining them to reveal a location, Batman meets Azrael, who tells him about the Order of St. Dumas and warns him of their prophecy of future events and the Dark Knight's end. Though Batman doubts this, Azrael tells him that, regardless of his belief, there are parts of it that are becoming true and they will meet again, before disappearing into a cloud of smoke.
- The PlayStation 3 edition of Batman: Arkham Origins features the Knightfall downloadable content, containing an alternate Batman costume based on Jean-Paul Valley's Batsuit, as well as challenge maps based on Batman: Knightfall.
- Azrael returns in Batman: Arkham Knight as the focus of the Most Wanted side mission, "Heir to the Cowl", during which he is briefly playable. The character is fully playable in the game's challenge maps via downloadable content. During Scarecrow's takeover of Gotham, the Order of St. Dumas sends Azrael to Gotham on a mission to become Batman's successor. Azrael meets up with Batman once again, who puts him through several trials to test his abilities and see if he is a worthy successor, during which Batman takes away his sword and Azrael is monitored by Alfred Pennyworth, who then informs Batman that the vigilante uses the same fighting style as him, implying that Azrael has been watching Batman for years. After the final trial is completed, Azrael states that he is prepared to become Gotham's next protector, but Batman opts to wait until he says so, causing Azrael to depart. Afterwards, Alfred informs Batman of Azrael's secret identity as Michael Lane and that he has a microchip in his brain planted by that the Order of St. Dumas. Arriving at the hideout inside the old clock tower, Batman analyses the microchip and discovers that the Order have been subtly controlling Azrael's actions, as well as a secret encrypted message that reveals the Order's real plan: have Azrael kill Batman and replace him as Gotham's one and only protector, believing that his moral code against murdering criminals stands in the way of true justice. Azrael, having followed Batman here, then confronts the Dark Knight and prepares to kill him and complete his mission, but Batman tells him how the Order have been in control of his actions all along. He then allows Azrael to take back his sword and do as he wishes with it, which leaves the player with three possible options:
- If Azrael attempts to kill Batman with the sword, he is quickly subdued by the Dark Knight and subsequently incarcerated at the GCPD Headquarters, where Lane vows to escape and kill Batman one day. During this time, Azrael will begin arguing with Deacon Blackfire over who is the true champion of God.
- If Azrael picks up the sword and resists his orders, he breaks it in front of Batman to show that the Order no longer have control over him, before leaving to exact revenge on the Order for their actions. Batman tells him that he made the right choice and Azrael makes no further appearances in the story.
- If Azrael leaves without picking up the sword, the outcome will be the same as choosing to destroy it, the only difference being that his sword will remain on display in the clock tower for the rest of the game.
- Batman: Contagion (Azrael #15)
- Batman: No Man's Land Vol. 1 (Azrael: Agent of the Bat #51-55)
- Batman: No Man's Land Vol. 2 (Azrael: Agent of the Bat #56)
- Batman: No Man's Land Vol. 3 (Azrael: Agent of the Bat #58)
- Batman: No Man's Land Vol. 4 (Azrael: Agent of the Bat #59-61)
- Batman: Sword of Azrael (#1-4)  - ISBN 1-56389-100-X
- Azrael: Angel in the Dark (Azrael vol. 2 #1-6)  - ISBN 978-1-4012-2874-3
- Batman: Gotham Shall Be Judged (Azrael vol. 2 #14-18)  - ISBN 978-1-4012-3378-5
- Azrael: Death's Dark Knight (#1-#3)
- Azrael Vol. 1: Fallen Angel (Batman: Sword of Azrael #1-4, Showcase '94 #10, Azrael vol. 1 #1-7)
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 255. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
Azrael, one of the most important characters of the modern Batman mythos, was dropped right under the noses of an unsuspecting reading populace in the debut issue of Batman: Sword of Azrael by esteemed bat-scribe Denny O'Neil, talented young penciler Joe Quesada, and inker extraordinaire Kevin Nowlan.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- "Batman: Battle for the Cowl - Enter Azrael", IGN, December 18, 2008
- "Fabian Nicieza Unleashes Azrael", Comic Book Resources, December 29, 2008
- Booker, M. Keith, ed. (2014). Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 909. ISBN 9780313397516.
- Azrael #39
- Azrael #99
- Wallace, Dan (2008). "Azrael". In Dougall, Alastair (ed.). The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 33. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5.
- "Get Ready for Azrael's 'Gotham' Debut with New Synopsis". Comic Book Resources. 2016-04-08. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
- Gotham EP Promises Comics-Accurate Azrael in Second Half of Season 2
- Couch, Aaron (May 11, 2020). "Batwoman Confirms Azrael Exists In The Arrowverse". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
- World of Black Heroes: Azrael Michael Washington Lane Biography
- Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley) at the DC Database Project
- Azrael (Jean-Paul Ludovic Valley, the father) at the DC Database Project
- Azrael (Michael Lane) at the DC Database Project
- Azrael Biography at Batman Myth.com
- Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley) at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
- Azrael Annual at the Grand Comics Database