“Azrael’s Sword” Changes Everything Fans Know About Its Origins

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Spoiler Alert for Sword of Azrael: Dark Knight of the Soul #1

The one-shot prelude to DC’s new “Azrael’s Sword” miniseries just changed everything Azrael’s fans knew about his origins. Azrael, who once replaced Batman, now patrols Gotham at night and works in a hospice during the day. But Azrael’s new opponent has just revealed the avenging angel’s long-standing connection to none other than Ras al Ghul.

Azrael, also known as the staunchly religious Jean-Paul Valli, is best known for being Batman’s replacement in the 1990s. But Azrael’s origins are much stranger than Batman’s; the Christian group the Order of Saint Dumas brainwashed Valley into believing he was God’s avenging angel, Azrael. The Order is a fictional group that splintered from the historical Knights Templar who operated during the Crusades. More recently, Azrael has been working to overcome his violent tendencies, which the Order taught him, while joining a more peaceful version of Christianity. Meanwhile, Ras al Ghul is once the immortal guardian of the Lazarus Pits, which confer healing abilities and can help avoid death. Lazarus resin has recently been developed — a synthetic version of Lazarus water that can be ingested — which is now used in Gotham.

Related: Azrael Finally Gets the Next Batman Replacement

Azrael is currently learning even more about the DC Comics version of the Knights Templar in the one-shot film “Azrael’s Sword: The Dark Knight of the Soul #1” by Dan Watters, Nicola Chizmezia, Ivan Placencia and Ariana Maher. Azrael is approached by a strange opponent who calls himself a Poor Thing, which is a reference to one of the historical names of the Knights Templar. In the memoirs of 1152, the Poor Man reveals the origin of his mantle — a mantle that predates Azrael, since the Order of Saint Dumas is a breakaway group of Templars. It tells the story of an ancient killer who doesn’t seem to be afraid of death: a man led by none other than Ras al Ghul. The Christian group regards this as complete blasphemy, kills the murderer before he can get to the Lazarus Pit, and dedicates one of his knights to hunt down and destroy the Pits. Now this modern Poor Guy is in Gotham, looking for Lazarus resin to destroy her, just like her ancestors.

The introduction of the modern Poor Man further complicates the already complicated origin of Azrael. Firstly, this historical Christian group has just been associated with Ras al Ghul and the Lazarus Pits, which further strengthened Ra’s influence on world history in the DC universe. Secondly, and even more interestingly, it strongly connects Azrael with Ra’s and the Pits. Azrael was programmed by the Order of Saint Dumas, a breakaway from the Templars. If the Poor Man is one of the original supernatural-oriented knights, and the Order separated after the creation of the Poor Man, then the Poor Man’s mantle precedes Azrael, which means that Azrael may well be modeled after the figure of the Poor Man and the hunt in the Lazarus Pit.

The consequences of this new connection have yet to be seen, but hopefully they will manifest themselves in the current Azrael miniseries – The Sword of Azrael. In any case, with the arrival of his new opponent, Azrael’s background has changed again, and he may have a whole new connection to the Lazarus Pits—and a whole new Christian-style nemesis in the Poor Guy.

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