I have created this thread as a way to pay homage to one of those characters who most people have seen or heard of, but know nothing of. One of the characters who people know as, "That dude with the flaming sword" when he is oh so much more. I have created this thread so that you may respect Azrael.
Before I get into the scans (Of which I have many) I will help explain to those who do not know anything Azrael who he is, what he does, and why. I'll start with his creation.
"Azrael was born out of the plan to change Batman completely. In an attempt to see whether their concept of Batman was hopelessly outdated the editorial staff felt the need to replace Batman with someone who had a darker edge. This was at the height of the so called "Dark Age" where Marvel heroes such as Wolverine and Punisher were so popular and Spawn was making a splash as a hot new title.
The editorial staff, Denny, Archie, and Scott along with their various assistants knew that they needed some one new to take on his role but had no idea who this character was. Denny proposed a miniseries to bring this character into the DCU with a full blown origin (although later on we found that we only got half the story). That miniseries was Batman : Sword of Azrael and it introduced us to postgraduate computer student Jean-Paul Valley, who had been subjected to psychological programming to make him an assassin for the Order of St. Dumas that he had unknowingly been born into. Jean-Paul valley saved the life of Batman and rejected the Orders control over him.
The miniseries wasn't just slapped together, a lot of thought went into creating something that was more than just a super hero. Denny wanted to give the reader subtle hints that this new hero would have an impact on Batman's world. Denny wanted a name that would reflect a bat's natural predator but couldn't find one that was suitable. instead he looked as Batman as a demon that allied himself with the angels, in this manner Denny found his hook for Azrael.
Denny looked for names of angels in his trusty tomes of mythology. One entry caught his eye, Azrael the angel of vengeance/death. Here was an angel who killed as opposed to Batman, a demon who never killed. Having found his symbolic comparison he moved onto the physical aspect. Commissioning Joe Quesada to do the artwork on Sword of Azrael, Archie and Denny told him that they were looking for "a..uh..kind of high tech knight." integral to this was Azrael's sword, which would burst into flames. Switzerland was chosen as the venue for Azrael and Batman's first meeting on purpose. Physically Jean Paul Valley was the same size a Bruce Wayne but with fairer looks. He was supposed to kill this demon of life as an angel of death and was fighting him in snow and ice with a flaming sword. Azrael was a character who radiated light, seen as a force for good while Batman lurked in the shadows, usually seen as something evil. This role reversal was integral to the story for which Azrael had been created.
The story for which Azrael had been created was Knightfall which followed the breaking of Bruce Wayne's back by the criminal known as Bane, as a result of this Azrael became Batman in a story called Knightquest : the Crusade. In this story Azrael's creation as a knight was played up as he began a crusade against evil. When Knightquest ended Bruce Wayne had found and rescued Tim Drake's father and the woman he wanted to be his wife, Dr. Shondra Kinsolving, Shondra Kinsolving had healed his back and so he went back to Gotham and reclaimed the mantle of the Bat. Azrael then became a hero in his own right."
So, now that we know how and why he was created, a little info on the actual character. The Order of St. Dumas has been using assassins for generations for their own means, they have dubbed them 'Azraels', angels of vengeance and death. These 'angels' are part of a lineage, on the father's side. At birth (Or possibly beforehand, the comics are rather vague, but generally somewhere in or before infancy) the child is subjected to a form of bioengineering where they have animal genes (Primarily higher primates) introduced into their systems. Through a form of electrical shock therapy, the Azrael is ingrained with the 'System'. The 'System' allows the Azrael to process information much more quickly than a human being, as well as to access certain aspects of their training and the experience of prior Azraels when it is activated. However, the 'System' only activates during times of peril, need, or great emotional stress.
Our Azrael is introduced while he is in college, through a series of events, his father is slain and he must take up the mantle of Azrael. Something that he is very unfamiliar with. Once the system starts to kick in, he finds himself fulfilling the role of Azrael beyond anything he could comprehend. After the events of Sword of Azrael and Knightfall, he takes up the mantle of Batman. The System is very delicate, and the change of costumes and identities (Azrael to Batman) drives Jean Paul quite insane. Eventually he relinquishes the mantle to Bruce and returns to his former life. Azrael 1 picks up with Jean Paul living in a homeless shelter, his mind fragmented. A series of events returns him to his place as Azrael, yet, he refuses to work for the Order of St. Dumas and strives to find himself.
Throughout his self-titled series Azrael undergoes many mental and physical changes, going through a total of FOUR major costume changes in 100 issues, engaging in a pseudo-romance with several female characters, battles many of Batman's villains as well as his own, including Bane, and being key in the downfall of the Order of St.Dumas.
Every Azrael has carried a Flaming sword, including the current one. While in possession of a flaming sword Jean Paul generally does not use it instead he makes his weapon of choice the retractable flaming Bundi Daggers housed in the forearms of his gauntlets. Independantly fueled and made from high tech alloys of the Orders invention they are sharp and immune to ordinary wear.
The costume Azrael curently wears was designed by Nomoz after his failed first tussel with Batman. Incorporating the advanced Order technology that created the silent hovercraft, the universal solvent, and the Azraels themselves, Nomoz crafted a fireproof and bulletproof fabric that resembles a weave of Kevlar and Nomex materials.
Azrael's costume has compartments for storing equipment and tools including a flashlight, satalite communications gear and medical equipment, he also has access to equipment from the Batcave. Azrael carries a mobile phone to allow him to contact Oracle as he was never fully trained as a detective and often needs information in a hurry.
A computer science post graduate student Jean Paul Valley's computer skills outstrip Tim Drake's and are possibly second only to Oracle's. He has been desribed as having instinctive genius, but is not as smart or canny as Batman and has limited knowledge with which to apply his intelligence.
Jean Pauls training from Batman added to his wide range of fighting techniques imparted by "The System" making him highly skilled as a hand to hand combatant, possibly as skilled as Batman but lacking Batman's experiance and finesse.
Being a genetically engineered person with the inclusion of certain animal DNA in his own, Azrael has been given greater strength than the human norm, he has been known to hurl large stone alters and steel objects possibly weighing one or two tons, however these powers are only available to Azrael and not Jean Paul. The costume was once a neccessary trigger for "The System" to impart him with his "Angelic Wrath" giving him his strength and enhanced reflexes and speed. Towards the end of his series, however, his strength, speed, and reflexes all skyrocketed, as well as the fact that he no longer relied on the costume to access "The System"
(Special thanks to Gordon Hope-Murray)
This forum sucks.
Last edited by Nataku8188 on Jul 21st, 2006 at 03:55 AM