It’s not always easy to follow the minor characters, especially with all the reboots and rebirths. Jean-Paul Valley who is also known as Azrael just made a comeback and I thought that I’ll dig up where he was during the last few years. That lead me to the beginning.
Who is Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael in the DC Universe?
When we met Jean-Paul Valley, his father just died and made him his successor in the sacred Order of St. Dumas. He became their warrior known as the vigilante Azrael. He was not an enemy of Batman, but he eventually joined him and his allies in their fight to protect Gotham City.
We later discovered that Jean-Paul was created by ‘Mother’, a villain who worked with the Order of St. Dumas. For a time, Azrael did the dirty work the Order needed him to do, but Nightwing put him on the right path so he could help people. He then started to fight crime.
DC’s Azrael Reading Order:
First, this will not be an exhaustive reading order, but more of a roadmap because I won’t list each and every one of Azrael’s apparitions in the DC Universe, only the important story arcs for the characters. So let’s begin with:
I. Batman & Azrael
- Batman: Sword of Azrael – This is where Jean-Paul’s story began with the death of his father and a meeting with Batman that leads to a quest to save the Order of St. Dumas. This storyline is also collected in Azrael vol. 1: Fallen Angel.
- Knightfall – Massive storyline in the Batman history, Knightfall is divided in three parts in which Azrael play a big role. He even ended up fighting as Batman for a short while.
II. The Solo Series
After the events chronicled in Knightfall, Azrael got his own solo series. This one ran for 100 issues between 1995 and 2003, plus some crossovers with Batman. It’s about Jean-Paul’s battles against the Order of St. Dumas.
In order to help the series to be a bigger seller, it was retitled Azrael: Agent of the Bat from issue #47 to the end. From that point, the story became more connected to Batman, with Azrael becoming a part of his team with Robin and Batgirl.
Not all the series was collected in TPBs or Hardcovers. In fact, it’s not easy to find it in that form, but if you can’t put your hands on individual issues, here is a guide.
- Azrael vol. 1: Fallen Angel – Like I wrote in the first part, this one collected Batman: Sword of Azrael, but also Showcase ’94 #10 and Azrael vol 1 #1–7.
- Batman: Contagion – You can find Azrael issue number 15 and 16 in this short storyline about the outbreak of a lethal disease in Gotham City.
- Batman: Road to No Man’s Land – No Man’s Land is a big crossover from 1999 (I talk more about it after). In 2016, after a new edition of the main event, DC decided to also reprint the prologue. There are two volumes called Batman: Road to No Man’s Land and you can find in the volume two issues 47 to 50 of Azrael.
- Batman: No Man’s Land – It’s a big crossover event in which Azrael play a part. The story began with a major earthquake hitting Gotham City. That leads to a city becoming an isolated ‘no man’s land’ for a year. The event is told with the help of 14 series (80 issues). The last edition is divided in 4 volumes, each one collects some issues of the Azrael series, from issues 51 to 61.
It’s not ideal, for sure. If you really want to read the first volume of Azrael, it’s probably better to seek another way.
III. Michael Washington Lane, the new Azrael
In 2009, Azrael came back with a new miniseries, then a new short ongoing series. Nevertheless, it was not the original Azrael, but an ex-cop named Michael Washington Lane. Not for long.
- Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight – This mini was produced as a tie-in to the Battle for the Cowl crossover event.
- Azrael (Volume 2) – The Series ran for only 18 issues.
IV. The New 52
During The New 52, Jean-Paul Valley finally reappeared as Azrael. It was in an arc of the Batman & Robin: Eternal series. After some rare and brief cameos, it was his first real apparition and we find him still working as an enforcer for the Order of St. Dumas. That said, he ends up assisting Red Hood and Tim Drake.
- Batman & Robin Eternal – Azrael did his comeback in issue #09, then came back in issues 10, 15, 24 & 25
V. DC Rebirth
At the moment, Azrael is back and work with the Bat Family in Detective Comics. The Order of St. Dumas is back and Azrael must fight for his own survival.
- Detective Comics – starting with issue #934, Azrael made some cameos, but really joined the team in issue #950 (which must be read, then…). The last storyline about The Order of St. Dumas started in issue #958. It’s when the mythology behind Azrael costume started to become the main subject.