I know that this rant may ruffle a few feathers but I am not a fan of the DC reboot but it doesn’t matter if it was this new DCnU reboot or even Marvel’s lame Spider-Man reboot with Peter selling his marriage to Mephisto…it reeks of desparation to me by the publisher. I do, however, understand that how I feel about the situation truly doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things if I am not buying the books. While I do applaud DC for having Booster Gold declare himself Canadian, I am still alittle pissed off with the continued ignoring of one of the most interesting characters that DC had ever created…Jean Paul Valley aka Azrael, The Avenging Angel.
Azrael appealed to me for a variety of reasons but the mythology and history of The Order Of St. Dumas was definately one of them. To have an avatar so steeped in tradition and myth, it just allowed for fantastic potential for great stories. I also enjoyed Jean Paul’s “crazy brutal” side that was explained as “The System,” which was subliminal training that was brainwashed into him as a very young child. It was also revealed that the mantle of Azrael was passed down by Jean Paul’s father to him.
The look of Azrael in his original costume (pictured above) drew me in right away. It is very mysterious but also has a flair that alot of new comic book characters lack when they are introduced. Later they introduced that once Jean Paul put on the mask that “Azrael” took over and he had no control. It could have lead to many unique story telling opportunities and one thing I truly liked was the developing relationship between Jean Paul and Barbara Gordon. The flirting, the banter and the knowledge that Barb was involved with Dick Grayson made the interactions all that more interesting.
I was one of the few (I suppose very very few) that enjoyed Jean Paul as Batman or as the comic book fanbase called him “Azbats.” Jean Paul took the mantle of Batman into places it had never been before, very dark places. His Batman was viscious, unapologetic, ruthless but also he was fighting to save Gotham….just in his own way.
Azbats was the Anti-Batman more or less, as he abandoned everything that made Bruce’s Batman the symbol he was. Jean Paul hated detective work, detested sidekicks and crossed the moral lines that Bruce Wayne would never cross. I knew as well as anyone else that his time as Batman would be short but I wish it would have ended in a better manner. Although I do understand why Bruce defeated him the way he did, it just truly felt anti-climatic.
After the “death” of Batman at the hands of Darkseid, DC had a huge event to replace Batman and a somewhat familiar face showed up in Gotham City. An African American ex-cop named Michael Washington Lane was approached by the Order of Purity to reclaim the mantle of Azrael after the Order of Dumas’ latest Azrael went mad and killed an undercover police officer. On his first night as Azrael he fought Talia Al Ghul and a new team of mercenaries led by Merlyn and Nightwing. After convincing Nightwing that he was not responsible for the murdered police officer, Nightwing persuades Talia to allow Michael to keep the Suit of Sorrows and the Sword Of Sin.
This Azrael became more religiously insane as his career as a vigilante went on, as the Suit Of Sorrows was slowly driving him crazy. As Azrael, he is a raging, violent warrior, an occurence which has plagued many incarnations of Azrael, including the late Jean-Paul Valley. Also, Michael Lane has a somewhat dubious grasp on his religion, frequently performing acts in the name of God that directly contrast the word of Bible, such as slaughtering several criminals and having extra-marital sexual intercourse with his sister-in-law. By his own admission, he has broken every one of the Ten Commandments.