Real Name:Jean-Paul Valley
Occupation: Former Assassin
Base of Operations: Websterville
Known Relatives: None
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 210 lbs.
First Appearance: Batman: Sword of Azrael#1 (October 1992)
According to the Koran, AZRAEL is the archangel of death who waits over the dying and takes the soul from the body. He is one of the four highest angels at the throne of Allah. He will be the last to die but will do so at the second trump of the archangel. Azrael is an angel of fiery vengeance -- a paradox of angelic devotion and devestating destructiveness.
Azrael, is an hereditory title passed from father to son, by the Order of Saint Dumas. This order was founded in the 14th century by an offshoot of the Knights Templar, in the Crusades. Over the centuries, the Order became more and more rich, and more and more secretive, so they came up with the idea of Azrael, the Avenging Angel!
This angel would be used to keep the members of the order in check, and to punish anyone that broke its rules. Azrael acts as an Avenging Angel for the Order, and punishes and kills anyone that breaks thier laws, or pisses them off in any way. To ensure that Azrael will do the bidding of the Order, he is trained from birth, and more recently, from even before birth. Animal DNA is mixed in with that of the as yet unborn Azrael, to increase his rage and animal agression. After he is born, he is constantly given electric shocks, and subliminal training to make make him a being of rage, anger, aggression and fury. When the time has come for the new Azrael to take over from his father, his training, known as The System, is unlocked from his mind, and completed by members of the Order, called dwarflings.
In the later part of the 20th century, the treasurer of the Order, Carlton LeHah, embezeled huge amounts of money to start up his own exotic arms busines, run from the penthouse of one of Gotham Cities skyscrapers. Enter Azrael, the Avenging Angel to dispence rightous cruelty! But its a trap! And LeHah and his stooges blow Azrael away, out of the window onto the streets below. Azrael uses the last of his strength to crawl to the door of his son, Jean Paul Valley, who is a graduate computer student at Gotham University. There, he gives his son instructions, and dies.
Following his fathers instructions, Jean Paul travels to Switzerland, and meets up with a gobbliny/dwarf thing called Nomoz. It is Nomoz's job to unleash the subliminal training, or "The System", Jean Paul has been receiving over the years from his father. It is this System, that takes control of Jean Paul whenever he puts the Azrael mask on, and turns him into the next Azrael, capable of merciless cruelty in the name of the Order. Nomoz also designs a new Azrael costume for Jean Paul, making the Angel more up to date.
Meanwhile...Bruce Wayne has been following up on the reports of a "Falling Angel" in Gotham, and has been lead to LeHah, who manages to kidnap and torture him, in an attempt to get at the Wayne fortune. But with the help of Alfred, Jean Paul manages to save Bruce's life. In exchange, Bruce agres to give Jean Paul a job with WayneCorp. as a security guard, and to help him overcome The System.
It was around this time, that the villain Bane, arrived in Gotham, threatening to take out the Batman. His plan was to release all the prisoners in Arkhym Asylum, and watch the Batman wear himself down trying to re-capture them all, and then step in at the last minute, and defeat him. His plan worked like a charm, and he broke the Batman's back in their fight in the Batcave.
Obviously unable to be the Batman anymore, Bruce Wayne thought that someone else should take over. And his choise was Jean Paul Valley. So Paul went out into the streets with good intentions, hoping to make it as the new Batman, with Robin watching out for him, and helping him develope. Unfortunatly, whenever a crisis developed, The System kicked in and took over Jean Paul. Azrael was never meant to be a protector, but a merciless assassin, and so Jean Paul slowly got more and more out of control, and more and more violent and dangerous, as The System tightened its grip. While under its influence, Jean Paul started to modify the Batman myth. First, he designed himself a pair of evil looking gauntlets, that had blade like claws, and could fire bat shaped razor blades.
Then, he went one step further, and redesigned the whole Batman costume, making it more a suit of armour. Tooled up like this, "Az-Bats" went looking to take down Bane, which he did after a fight all across Gotham.
Now, having established (mainly to himself) that he is truly the Batman, Az-Bats takes on a Crusade to clear up the remaining Arkhym escapees, which he does in his new, violent and brutal way. While Az-Bats follows his crusade against the criminals of Gotham, he is constantly plauged by visions of St Dumas and his father, who accuse him of failing in his role of both Avenging Angel, and as Dark Knight of Gotham. Because of these visions, Az-Bats gets more unstable, and throws himself futher into the role of Batman, becoming more violent and excessive in his crusade, and further redesigning the Batman costume, adding more bullet proofing, fire proofing, more sharp edges than you could think possible and a flame thrower, among other things.
One of the many escapees Az-Bats goes after, is Kenyan Etchenson, aka Abottoir. Abottoir was a serial killer that preyed exclusivley on members of his own family. He abducts the sole surving member of his family, and straps him into a pulping machine, all ready to kill him. But, Az-Bats shows up just in time, and chases Abottoir onto the roof of a warehouse. Running for his life, Abottoir doesnt see the skylight, and falls through, only just managing to hold onto the edge. Confused by the visions of his father and St Dumas telling him that he must punish, Az-Bats stands and watches as Abottoir's fingers slip, and he falls to his death. Then he hears the screams of Abottoir's relative as he is killed in the pulping machine. Az-Bats had forgotten to save him before taking down Abottoir!
Meanwhile, through events too complicated to go into, Bruce Wayne has fully recovered from his injuries, and heard of Az-Bats from Robin, and decides it's time to regain the mantle of the bat. Knowing that he is up against a dangerous foe, Bruce Wayne goes on a fighting crash-course with the Lady Shiva, to hone his skills. Batman eventually faces Az-Bats just in time to stop him killing the men who killed his father. The two face each other off on top of the same penhouse as Jean Pauls father fell from. Their fight continues even as both are towed through the air by an out of control helicopter, and ends when it crashes on a bridge, and Batman throws Az-Bats off the bridge, engulfed in the flames of his own flame thrower. Realising that it would probably take more than a little drop in a river to stop Az-Bats, Batman uses the Batmobile to seach the riverbanks.......only to discover that Az-Bats had booby trapped it, when it explodes in a huge ball of flame. Luckily, the Batman had been just able to get clear of the blast, and goes back to the Batcave to confront Az-Bats there.
There he finds a madman, swinging from violence to calmness and back. They fight, and not wanting to kill himself, Jean Paul, or destroy whats left of the Batcave, Batman retreats to a narrow tunnel, with a plan.... With the huge armour, Az-Bats is unable to follow him, so he takes it off, but leaves his helmet with its night lenses, on. Az-Bats advances on Batman, and at just the right moment, Batman opens the trapdoor above him leading to the surface, and lets in the sunlight, which blinds Az-Bats with his night lenses. He has to take off his helmet, and in doing so, Azrael, the Avenging Angel, and all his rage and thirst for vengence dissappears, to reveal Jean Paul Valley, the shy Gotham student. The Batman feels sorry for Jean Paul, knowing that it was not him, but The System, that made him do the things he did, and gives him a second chance, and lets him go. With the guilt of what he has done, and his confusion over weather he is Azrael, Batman or a nobody, Jean Paul slips into the gutters.
Recently though, Bruce Wayne has helped Azrael find his true self, by giving him what seems to be unlimited funds and even more recently, access to the batcave.
Jean Paul has been able to control Azrael to some extent, and so he is not as lethal as he used to be. Then he spent some time on the streets, where he met his friend Brian Bryan, untill he went looking for answers about himnself at the Order's HQ.Dr Bryan used to be a psychyatrist, but when several of his patients all killed themselves, he went to peices and hit the streets with his best mate, a bottle.Thats where he met Jean Paul, and has been with him ever since, helping him cope with his split personality. After a dip in the Lazarus Pit, he is no longer an alcoholic.
Sister Lilhy used to be the second in command of the Order of St Dumas, but when Jean Paul came to the Order's HQ looking for answers, she left with him, and has been very useful since. More recently though, since the destruction of the Order, she has been acting a bit odd, and isn't all she seems to be. But, poor old Jean Paul is so innocent that he can't see it yet.
Nomoz is the last surviving Dwarfling. They were bread by the Order to do things. Nomoz finished Jean Pauls training as Azrael, and unlocked the System from in his head. He helped Azrael and the gang destroy the Order when Nomoz found out that Brother Rollo was mad, and wasnt listening to the instructions of St Dumas, but taking over himself. Since then, he's hung around Jean Paul, helping him out of scrapes and stuff, because the only reason Nomoz has, is to help Azrael in his duty.
Batman doesn't trust Azrael, or indeed like him all that much, but he does feel responsible for him. Because of this, he has helped Jean Paul find out about himself, and given Azrael things to do, to try to keep him out of trouble.
In more recent times, Azrael has become more of Batman's ally in that he is often called upon when needed. He has also discovered more about himself and what makes him Azrael. He has changed his costume twice since giving up the Az-Bat armour. The first was to a white and red costume. This was due to being blamed for crimes he did not commit by Nicholas Scratch during No Man's Land.
After clearing his name and taking down Scratch, Azrael came face to face with himself - the Order of St. Dumas' newest Azrael. In this new Azrael, Jean Paul saw himself, but in the end he could not save his "brother".
Jean Paul went into hiding for a short period of time, but eventually resurfaced. With the help of Batman and Oracle, he established himself near the small (population 56) town of Ossaville. There he acts as the people's guardian. He changed his costume (the most recent one) and serves both the town as well as Batman whenever he is needed.