July 23, 2010

DC Reviews: Azrael #10

Azrael #10
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: David Hine
Art: Guillem March
Cover: Francesco Mattina
Price: US $2.99
Release Date: July 21, 2010

***CAUTION: This Review Contains Spoilers!***

The Killer of Saints,  Part One: The Hand That Burns

A man known as the Crusader is going around and picking off the five members of the inner circle of the Order of Purity. Father Garrett tells Azrael that each of the inner circle are privy to an ancient secret.  The Crusader is after that information.  Not giving up that secret, they are being brutally murdered in reenactments of the martyrdom of various Christian saints.  Father Garrett is worried, as he is one of the five members of the inner circle of the Order of Purity.

The first victim met his demise in the fashion of Saint Christopher.  The man was beaten until every major bone in his body was broken.  He then had a helmet placed on his head and the helmet was set aflame.  Still unwilling to give up his knowledge, the man was beheaded.  The body was found a day later, hanging from a hook on the ceiling in the bookstore he owned.  His head, still in the helmet, was found sitting on a table next to the body.

Next was a woman murdered in the fashion of Saint Christina.  This was the most violent of all the saints’ deaths.  She was bitten by vipers then had her skin ripped to shreds with nails.  She was then burned and pierced with arrows.  After that, her breasts were cut off.  To end it all, the Crusader tore out her tongue and left her to bleed out.

After hearing of these horrible deaths, Father Garrett finally has the Angel of Vengeance convinced to go hunt this maniac down and make him pay.  Father Garrett has an idea of who may be next to bite it, and the pair head off to London.  They are too late, though.  They find the priest as he has been stripped to his Fruit of the Looms and left arrowed to a pillar with many more arrows plunged into his body.

The Crusader tells the men he has been sent by God and has been given powers.  Azrael has had enough, calls the Crusader a blasphemer, and charges towards him with his flaming Sword of Sin drawn.  Father Garrett calls after Azrael and tells him that the Crusader speaks the truth; that he actually does have supernatural powers.  It is too late, however, because the Crusader took a swig of Holy Water and spewed it upon Azrael, proclaiming it refreshes those who are virtuous but burns the wicked.  We’re left with Azrael covered in flames.

I’ll be honest.  This isn’t my Azrael.  My Azrael was Jean-Paul Valley.  The Azrael who took over as Batman after Bane broke his back.  The Azrael that followed the Order of St. Dumas and eventually went nuts due to his burden of being the Order’s avenging angel.  My Azrael died in issue #100 of his own book, back in 2003.  I don’t think that killing him off was really the way to go; he was and still is one of my favorite DC characters.  That Azrael’s book, however, was really starting to get crazy-weird and lame, so they ended it all.  In my opinion, writer and co-creator (with Joe Quesada) Denny O’Neil was too stubborn to admit that the book needed fresh ideas and wouldn’t turn his baby over to anybody else, so he just took his ball and went home, so to speak.  I was more than thrilled when my Azrael came back as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night #4, but he was quickly disposed of and I was totally bummed when he wasn’t one of the characters that returned to the land of the living in Brightest Day.

No, this Azrael is an ex-cop by the name of Michael Lane.  We were first introduced to Lane in Batman #672.  He was one of the group of Gotham City police officers that went through a program designed by Dr. Hurt to be a replacement Batman if anything were to ever happen to the real deal.  Michael Lane is the third “ghost of Batman.”  He was recruited into the Order of Purity, a sister sect of the Order of St. Dumas, to be their avenging angel.  He wears the Suit of Sorrows, a relic of the Order of Purity that had been stolen back from Ra’s al Ghul.  He also wields the Sword of Sin and the Sword of Salvation.  Talia al Ghul was in possession of the Sword of Salvation when Lane fought her.  She wanted the Suit of Sorrows to give to her son, Damian Wayne, but Lane defeated Talia back in Battle for the Cowl.  Whoever wears the Suit of Sorrows is eventually driven insane by the burden of wearing the suit.  Having already suffered mental effects from Dr. Hurt’s experiments, the Order of Purity knows that it’s just a matter of time before Michael Lane goes completely mad.

The first nine issues of this new volume of Azrael were written by Fabian Nicieza.  It started out pretty awesome, but then soon turned almost pointless.  With this issue, Azrael #10, it begins a new run with David Hine as the writer.  Things are starting to look up again.  The artist, Guillem March, does nothing that I would call my favorite, but he has his moments.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  Michael Lane will never take the place of my beloved Jean-Paul Valley, but Azrael is definitely worth giving a try.

If you have been religiously following our Chirpin’ Tuesday Reviews (of course, you have!), you have noticed that I continuously praise the cover art of Francesco Mattina each month that Azrael comes out.  They are truly a sight to behold.  I’ll leave you with Mattina’s Azrael cover art gallery for you to drool over as you call up your local comic shop and tell them to add Azrael to your pull list.

Aron White



  1. Kristin

    Uh…that actually sounds really cool. Hmmm….

  2. Aron

    Yeah. It’s probably the best book that nobody is reading.

  3. I liked the Jean-Paul Azrael until he became corny and I didn’t give the new one a shot because I lost interest in the character but this does seem like a decent read. I might just wait and pick up the Azrael trade if it comes out.

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  5. Aron

    Yeah, I know. That’s what I mean. It wasn’t really the character that got corny, it was what was going on with him. O’Neil wouldn’t turn him over to a fresh writer. That would have totally saved the character.

  6. billy

    I’ve read about the original Azrael and thought he sounded really cool!

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