Azrael (DC Comics)

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Azrael
Swordazrael1.jpg
Jean-Paul Valley as Azrael on the cover to Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (1992).
Art by Joe Quesada and Kevin Nowlan.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceBatman: Sword of Azrael #1
(October 1992)
Created byJean-Paul Valley: Michael Lane:
In-story information
Alter ego
  • Jean-Paul Valley Jr.
  • Michael Washington Lane
  • Theo Galavan (Gotham)
Team affiliations
Abilities
  • Master strategist and tactician
  • Rigorous military and police training
  • Peak physical conditioning
  • Skilled hand-to-hand combatant and martial artist
  • Artificially enhanced physiology, intelligence, combat skills, and metabolism given to him through genetic splicing with animals in order to create the perfect weapon by The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas
  • Suit of Sorrows
  • Sword of Sin forces the person struck with it to remember every sin over the course of their life which they must atone for.
  • Sword of Salvation forces the person struck with it to remember every past tragedy over the course of their life all at one time.

Azrael is an alias used by multiple fictional characters appearing in comic books published by in the DC Comics. The original version, Jean-Paul Valley, was created by Denny O'Neil, Joe Quesada, and Peter Milligan, and debuted in Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (October 1992). The second character to assume the alias was 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 secretive organization seeking to restore justice to Gotham City. Azrael is typically portrayed as an antihero and ally of the superhero Batman, though the two have also been at odds 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. An original iteration of Azrael appeared in the second season of the television series Gotham, portrayed by James Frain.

Characters[edit]

Jean-Paul Valley[edit]

Jean-Paul Valley was introduced as the original Azrael in the 1992 four-issue miniseries Batman: Sword of Azrael.[2] He later briefly assumed the identity of Batman in the "Knightfall" story arc (1993-1994), after Bruce Wayne was severly injured in a fight with Bane.[3]

Michael Washington Lane[edit]

Michael Lane was originally introduced in Batman #665 (June 2007) as the alter-ego of the supervillain Bat-Devil. In Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #1 (May 2009), the character was re-introduced as the current Azrael, as part of Battle for the Cowl, a storyline told in a three-issue miniseries format written by Fabian Nicieza.[4][5]

Others[edit]

A number of other characters besides Valley and Lane have assumed the identity of Azrael in the DC Universe:

  • Valley's father was the previous Azrael, as seen in Batman: Sword of Azrael (in which he was identified as Jean-Paul Valley Sr.). In Azrael Annual #1, the character's role as Azrael is depicted in more depth, and he is now 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.
  • Early 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,[6] only to resurface in Gotham City early on in the Underworld Unleashed crossover event wearing one of Valley's 'Batman' armored costumes and engaging in illegal underground fights after having made a deal with Abra Kadabra (acting on behalf of Neron) for his soul in return for his life.[7]
  • An unrelated character also named Azrael was created by Marv Wolfman and José Luis García-López and debuted in Tales of the Teen Titans #52 in 1985. This version, whose origins remained a mystery, appeared as a supporting character in the Titans stories in the late 1980s.

Powers and abilities[edit]

As Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley 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.[8] 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.[9] This is not only due to his martial arts skills, but also due to his inhuman physical abilities.

Equipment[edit]

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 the Sacred Order of St. Dumas to an agent of the Batman to his own man.[10] 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 another flaming sword called Murasame. He also possesses the familiar gauntlet blades as well.

Other versions[edit]

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[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Azrael made his live-action debut in the second season of Gotham, portrayed by James Frain.[11] 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.[12]
  • Azrael's name is mentioned in Lucius Fox's journal in the Batwoman episode "A Secret Kept From All The Rest".[13]
  • Jean-Paul Valley's Azrael costume can be briefly seen on display in Doctor Trap's museum in the episode "Trapped" of the Harley Quinn animated series.

Video games[edit]

Lego[edit]

  • 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. In the other versions, the player can unlock special LEGO pieces to build Azrael in the character creation feature .
  • The Michael Lane version of Azrael appears as a playable character in the handheld versions of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.

Batman: Arkham[edit]

The Michael Lane incarnation of Azrael appears in the Batman Arkham series, voiced by Khary Payton.

  • Azrael first appears in Batman: Arkham City, as the focus of the "Watcher in the Wings" side mission. After certain events in the game's main storyline, he can be seen on the rooftops of various buildings in Arkham City, 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.
  • Azrael returns in Batman: Arkham Knight as the focus of the Most Wanted mission, "Heir to the Cowl", during which he is briefly playable. The character was later made fully playable in the game's challenge maps through an update. During Scarecrow's takeover of Gotham, Azrael contacts Batman to become his successor. Batman puts Azrael through several trails to test his abilities, during which he is unknowingly monitored by Alfred Pennyworth. After all the trials are completed, Alfred reveals that Azrael's fighting style is identical to Batman's, implying that he has been observing the Dark Knight for years. After discovering Azrael's true identity and that the Order of St. Dumas have implanted a microchip in his brain, Batman goes to the clock tower hideout to analyze the chip. The analysis reveals that the Order have been subtly controlling Azrael's actions, and that their ultimate plan for him is to kill Batman, whose moral code prevents criminals from facing "true justice", and become Gotham's sole protector. Azrael then appears behind Batman, revealing that he had been listening to Batman and Alfred's conversation. Now aware that the Order have manipulated him all along, he is torn between completing his mission to eliminate Batman, or regaining his free will.
    • If the player chooses to have Azrael attempt to kill Batman, he is quickly subdued by the Dark Knight and subsequently incarcerated at the GCPD Headquarters, where Lane vows to escape and complete his mission one day.
    • If the player chooses to have Azrael leave the clock tower or destroy his sword, he breaks free of the Order's brainwashing and vows to exact revenge on them for what they have done to him.

Collected editions[edit]

  • 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) [1993] - ISBN 1-56389-100-X
  • Azrael: Angel in the Dark (Azrael (vol. 2) #1-6) [2010] - ISBN 978-1-4012-2874-3
  • Batman: Gotham Shall Be Judged (Azrael (vol. 2) #14-18) [2012] - 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 #1-7)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Interview: Peter Milligan: Rediscovering Nemo, Feeling X-Statix and More - Comics Bulletin
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Booker, M. Keith, ed. (2014). Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 909. ISBN 9780313397516.
  4. ^ "Batman: Battle for the Cowl - Enter Azrael", IGN, December 18, 2008
  5. ^ "Fabian Nicieza Unleashes Azrael", Comic Book Resources, December 29, 2008
  6. ^ Azrael #4 (May 1995)
  7. ^ Azrael #10 (November 1995)
  8. ^ Azrael #39
  9. ^ Azrael #99
  10. ^ Wallace, Dan (2008). "Azrael". In Dougall, Alastair (ed.). The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7566-4119-1.
  11. ^ "Get Ready for Azrael's 'Gotham' Debut with New Synopsis". Comic Book Resources. 2016-04-08. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  12. ^ Gotham EP Promises Comics-Accurate Azrael in Second Half of Season 2
  13. ^ Couch, Aaron (May 11, 2020). "Batwoman Confirms Azrael Exists In The Arrowverse". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 13, 2020.

External links[edit]