IN RETROSPECT – AZRAEL

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Origin’s of Azrael? Azrael is an urban hero with biblical roots. He was initially introduced in the Batman mini-series penned by Denny O’Neil and Joe Quesada, ‘The Sword of Azrael’, as a newly associated member of a religious sect which policed the world as a biblical crusader (just think of then as a home town Green Lantern Corps whom do bingo on Sundays).


Batman: Sword of Azrael


Next, Azrael was introduced to the rest of the Bat-cast, acting as a strong man for Tim (Robin) Drake, before he was thrust into the whole ‘Knight Saga’ acting as: (1) Replacement-Batman - (2) Naughty Batman – and finally (3) We-don’t-want-this-Batman.

Now you have to remember that this was the first Azrael (Jean Paul Valley), as the second Azrael (Michael Lane) like the first, is from a biblical background. But where as Jean was a reluctant member of the Order of St Dumas who perverted the mantel of the Bat, Micheal is a willing member of the Order of Purity (a fringe group of the first) and was corrupted to pervert the Mantel of the Bat by Dr. William Hurt in ‘Batman: RIP’.


How Many Times Has He Been Cancelled? There have been two Azrael ongoing series so far, with the first one having a slight title change for a period, labelling itself 'Azrael - Agent of the Bat'. There have also been numerous one shot’s, mini-series, and specials for the two – with occasional guest appearances within other Bat-related titles. An though the Jean Paul series lasted a lot longer than the Michael series, both are sorely missed since their absence. Bless you, you religious nut!


Why Do You Think He Was Cancelled? Although their roots and origins may sound similar, the basic sentiment behind both Azrael’s religious attachments are divergent to say the least. Michael is a devout Catholic since birth, where as Jean was only associated to religion through his ‘order’, and didn't really seem to ally himself with any biblical fervor.

Also, their ethnic roots and background in reality are contrasting, as Michael is a black ex-marine / ex-cop with a harsh upbringing, and Jean was a computer programmer with a charmed life and no directions.

Still, spiritually they may both appear to be ying and yang, but where their comic book career is concerned, they were both eventually cancelled.

Why? Well? That’s a difficult one to answer. They both started their ongoing series as the underdogs of the Bat-clan. But were as Jean was giving the scope to flourish in his series, Michael wasn't given that much of a chance. In all honesty, I think that Michael’s series didn't seem to have the same pulling power that Jean’s series had. Jean had Denny O’Neil and Barry Kitson under his belt, and Michael’s creative team’s, even though very good, didn't seem to have the star power that Jean’s had.

Now this is not to say that the people behind Michael were bad in any way shape or form - as in some way what they were trying to delve into thematically was very interesting - but maybe too interesting for some to care. Jean’s series on the other hand seemed to have run its course, with the last couple of issues floundering because of some creative snafu. Listen now, this could have been rectified. But DC didn't see the point.

May Dumas have mercy on their soul.




What would I have done different? I would have made Azrael a door to door bible-basher, threatening would be ‘heathens’ to buy his religious pamphlets or he’d stick them with a knife. At least this way it would be a bit funnier?