Friday, October 1, 2010

Who You Should Be Reading: Azrael (Michael Lane)

Writer: Fabian Nicieza (former), David Hine (current)
Artist: Ramon Bachs (former), Guillem March (current)
Editor: Mike Marts (former), Rachel Gluckstern (current)
Secret Identities: Ludovic Valley (former-deceased), Jean-Paul Valley (former-deceased), Michael Lane (current)
Ongoing title: Azrael

Bio (from


Michael Washington Lane, currently Azrael had a troubled life. He gained a football scholarship to Gotham University as a linebacker, but lost it his sophomore year after beating his coach unconscious. He then joined the marines and served for two tours in Iraq. When he came back to the states, he joined the Gotham City Police Department to provide for his wife and young son. His son was hit by a car and died at age three. His wife committed suicide within a year. Only six months after her death, Michael's two siblings (his last living relatives) were murdered by an apparent Satanic cult. This broke Michael's psyche, and he was dismissed from the GCPD.

Batman R.I.P

Before his string of tragedies, Michael was selected for a joint Military/GCPD experiment that as designed to create someone who could take over for Batman should anything ever happen to him. Michael and two other police officers with military training were put through a series of experiments by scientist Doctor Hurt, which improved their strength and reflexes. The effects of the experiment combined with his personal tragedies made him go insane. Along with the "Bat-Cop" and "Bat-Bane," who also experienced adverse mental effects of Dr. Hurt's program, Lane, nicknamed "Bat-Ghost," plagued Batman for a short while, haunting him for the inadvertent destruction of the three men's lives. He acted as an agent of Doctor Hurt during Batman R.I.P..

Battle for The Cowl

After the death of Batman during Final Crisis, Lane confessed his perceived involvement in Batman's death to Father Day, who was a member of the Order of Purity. Michael was then recruited by the order to be the next Azrael of their order. He was given the flaming Sword of Sin and the Suit of Sorrows, which had driven his predecessor, Abraham Arlington insane after just six weeks of wearing it.
For his first act as Azrael, Michael had to defend himself against Talia al Ghul and her League of Assassins. Talia, who still had possession of the Sword of Sin's sister sword, the Sword of Salvation, wished to retrieve the Suit of Sorrows so that she might give it to her son Damian. Using the added strength of the suit, and his training as Batman's replacement, the new Azrael was able to defeat Talia and her assassins.

  • Fabian Nicieza started the run, which is the only reason I picked up the title in the first place.
  • David Hine picked up after Fabian and took this title to a whole 'nother level. Fabian's strengths are teenage super heroes... David Hine's are supernatural anti-heroes. 
  • The Crusader is, by far, one of the most interesting villains in comics to date. The only characters I find more interesting are Joker, Riddler, and maybe Professor Pyg (yes, I have to give Grant some props on some of his characters).
  • Michael Lane is DC's attempt at creating a relatively well known African American character.
  • A suit that drives a man insane by taunting him with the souls of those the suit has killed, and those that have died while wearing the suit, is one of the most interesting concepts in comic history. It's also interesting to find out that dying in the suit will unlock the suit's power.
  • The Order Of Purity are one of the more mysterious cults in the comic world. It'd be interesting to see Raven have something to do with this and to have Azrael cross over with the Teen Titans.
  • Azrael kills. 
  • The art is simply amazing, and the covers are even better.
  • The Sword Of Sin and the Sword Of Salvation are two very mysterious, and very fun things to read about.
  • This is a very character driven story.
  • David Hine's writing isn't for everyone.
  • Michael Lane's religious views might bother you.
  • A comic book questioning religion might not be your cup of tea.
  • It has too much Batman for a supernatural type story.
  • Michael Lane is very cynical. 
Overall, this is one of my favorite monthly books. If you're interested in seeing what the hype is about, pick up issues 10-current (12 at the moment) and give it a go. Those issues will instantly tell you if Azrael is for you or not. I started the run with Fabian, but I can agree that his run on the book wasn't the best (sorry Fabian). If you're a fan of the character after 10-12, then I suggest picking up 1-9 for a (very brief) back story about Mr. Lane. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

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