|“||I'll tell you something I never admit, even to myself... I'm confused. I don't know exactly who I am, or where my place might be. But I am sure of one thing... I am nothing like you.||„|
|~ Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley) to Bane.|
|“||You have no secrets from me because you have no secrets from God! I am his righteous blade, the last to die, his Angel of Death... I am Azrael!||„|
|~ Prime Earth Azrael.|
Azrael (real name Jean-Paul Valley, Jr.) is a fictional character, and a comic book anti-hero appearing in publications by DC Comics.
Having been genetically altered for the Order of St. Dumas, Jean-Paul took on the mantle after his father's death, but rejected the order and decided to become an ally of the Batman. Though he often battled against his violent behavior given to him by "The System", Jean-Paul continued to help the Dark Knight and his allies fight his rogues gallery, and briefly took on the mantle of Batman after Bruce's back was broken by Bane. Azrael has also been a member of the Justice League Task Force, Outsiders II, and the Justice League Odyssey.
He was created by Denny O'Neil, Joe Quesada, Peter Milligan, and Grant Morrison, and first appeared in Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 in October of 1992.
Jean-Paul Valley, Jr. is the son of Jean-Paul Ludovic Valley, Sr. and an unnamed mother, and was genetically engineered by scientists who altered his DNA with animal species. Not knowing of his origin of being a test tube baby, Jean-Paul would grow up and later become a student at Gotham University. Jean-Paul would learn that his father the original Azrael when he came to his apartment badly injured, and gave his son money to travel to the Order of St. Dumas. Unbeknownst to Jean-Paul Ludovic, the Order tricked him into having his son go there when he attempted to prevent Jean-Paul Jr. from falling under their influence.
Traveling to Switzerland, Jean-Paul was trained by Nomoz and took on the mantle of "Azrael" after learning of "The System", and met Batman and Alfred Pennyworth there. Having learned that his father's death caused a riot, Jean-Paul came at odds with the Dark Knight until he had to rescue him from LeHah. After dealing with LeHah, Azrael decided to not be influenced by the Order and returned to Gotham City, and started to work with the Batman Family. Batman tasked Tim Drake with helping Jean-Paul control "The System", but Azrael found himself unable to control the violence that the system brought, but continued helping Batman and his allies, such as saving Lucius Fox.
When Batman was out of action, Jean-Paul was given his mantle and went out to battle Killer Croc, but failed and started to train himself to increase his strength. Jean-Paul started to become more aggressive, and started to patrol the streets of Gotham to atone for his failure to stop Killer Croc. When Bane broke Bruce's back, Azrael helped Alfred and Robin retrieve him and later bring him a special medicine to quickly recover. Bruce then asked Jean-Paul to return his mantle as Batman, and the latter agreed and started to work with Robin to stop the Dark Knight's rogues gallery. Jean-Paul first started by trying to find Scarecrow, who used his gas on Anarky and Jean-Paul to fight. However, Jean-Paul wasn't entirely affected by the gas because of "The System", and defeated Anarky and had Scarecrow arrested.
Having become confident for stopping Scarecrow, Jean-Paul became a more brutal and vicious Batman, and started his fight against Bane. After being defeated by Bane, Jean-Paul escaped and decided to use "The System" and create a new suit of armor, and returned and defeated the man who broke the Bat. Jean-Paul earned the respect of the people of Gotham City, having earned the Dark Knight's title. Though humble to receive the title, Jean-Paul started to become even more brutal, nearly killing most criminals he ran across, closing all of the opening of the Batcave to drive out Robin, and starting a gang war. When he fell for one of the Joker's schemes, he nearly beat the criminal to a pulp, but was stopped by GCPD officers.
His delusions and further break from reality from visions from the Order caused Jean-Paul to let the villain Abattoir fall to his death, which caused Commissioner Gordon to break ties with the vigilante. He was confronted by Bruce, who had recovered from his injuries, and demanded that Jean-Paul return his mantle to him. However, Jean-Paul managed to subdue Bruce, and warned him to not claim his mantle. While searching for Lehah, Jean-Paul was confronted by Batman, Nightwing and Robin, and was defeated by Bruce in the Batcave after he defeated Wayne's two proteges. Admitting to defeat, Jean-Paul took off his armor and gave the mantle back to Bruce, and went to the streets as a vagrant.
Redemption and Death
Becoming one of the many homeless of Gotham, Jean-Paul was approached by Batman, who offered to give him the funds to find out of his true origins. Jean-Paul agreed and traveled across the world, where he confronted and destroyed a faction of the Order that led to his creation. Returning to Gotham, Jean-Paul decided to return to his mantle as Azrael, and focused on being loyal to Batman until he could become independent. Azrael would help the Bat family on numerous occasions, such as when the United States government left Gotham to become it's own after an earthquake. He also developed a brother-type relationship with Cassandra Cain, who also grew up around violence at a young age.
Azrael was eventually killed by Biis and Scratch, and his body had perished while his armor was left. Five years after his death, the Order of Purity decided to create another Azrael, and chose Michael Lane to be the next iteration. During the "Blackest Night" storyline, Jean-Paul was revived as a Black Lantern, and attempted to murder Scarecrow.
On Prime Earth, Jean-Paul was the cloned son of the original Azrael, and was created by "Mother" and given the "System" within his fetal state. Learning that the Order of St. Dumas was planning, Jean-Paul Sr. decided to protect his son from them, but Jean-Paul would become the next Azrael. As the Angel of Death, Jean-Paul was tasked by the Order to steal advanced technology to return it their island, and was confronted by Red Hood and Red Robin. After dealing with the two, Azrael worked with Dick Grayson, who was under the alias "Agent 37", and learned of his past with "Mother". Deciding to become a hero, Azrael left the island to Gotham City, where he was added to the Bat Family after Red Robin's apparent death.