Azrael as it Gets

The comic world is a-buzz with the recent news that the brainwashed avenging angel, Azreal, shall soon return:

Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Frazer Irving
Cover by Guillem March

He was a husband and a father. A brother and a friend. A cop and a dark knight. But he had all that taken away. And in return, he was given a suit of sorrows, a quest for redemption and a new name. He is Azrael, avenging angel for the Order of Purity and a new protector for Gotham City's troubled times. But who will protect the citizens from him?

Guest-starring Robin, Nightwing, Talia and the League of Assassins, this miniseries runs alongside BATTLE FOR THE COWL and features the dramatic presence of a strangely familiar, troubled hero with two things on his mind: crazed vengeance for the wrongs he has suffered and salvation for the sins he continues to commit!

On sale March 18 • 1 of 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

It appears a new guy will be sporting the Az-duds this time around, and not the original Jean-Paul Valley. Jean-Paul was killed off a few years ago, so of course it only makes sense that they'd have a new guy - it's not like they can resurrect the dead! Duh!

This upcoming Azrael storyline, along with all that has been going on and continues to occur in Batman comics of late, sounds like a mash-up of the Death of Superman/Rise of the Supermen sagas with the Knightfall/ Knightquest/ Knightlight/ Knightmoves/ Knightrider sagas in order to create one big comic book uber-exstravawonder-ganza-oktoberfest!

I don't know if I have the patience or the energy to follow along very closely this time around, but DC comics had me by the short hairs in the nineties when they broke Batman and replaced him with crazy upstart Azrael.

So take a walk with me down memory lane back to the early nineties. Dust off your flannel, pause the VCR, flip your mullet and pop in a Nirvana cassette as we look at a couple earlier Azrael incarnations.

These two AzBat figures were released by Kenner around 1994 or 1995, and represent Azrael as he altered and evolved Batman's costume through those Knight(insert own joke here) storylines I previously mentioned.

Azrael first started fighting crime as Batman in the standard costume worn by Bruce Wayne, and slowly began adding weapons and shoulder pads and shiny paint until he got to this one...

...which seemed to suit him well, so he stuck with it for awhile. This costume did have some cool features, like a spotlight at the collar to blind criminals...

...and shuriken firing gauntlets with bladed fingers.

I always thought the garter-utility-belt was a nice touch too.

As Azrael slipped deeper into madness and obsession, his costume took on a much more robotic look, borrowing more design cues from his original Order of St. Dumas costume.

If I remember the story correctly, I think this costume was still sporting a black/blue/grey color scheme until the Batmobile, with Azrael in it, exploded. He emerged from the wreckage in red/orange and black and stuck with it for maybe one or two issues until Bruce returned and brung the smack-down. I don't know if that's exactly how it went, but it sounds silly enough to be true.

The costume still has the spotlight and the bad-ass gauntlets, but now the cowl is much more helmet-like and the wings are...well...insane.

Each figure came with a firing weapon, which is appropriate for AzBats. This one shoots a flame engulfed missile...

...and this one shoots a batarang like disk.

Here are the weapons and their projectiles together in case you find these guys at a garage sale and want to be sure you get all the pieces.

Each figure in this series, called Legends of Batman, also came with a cool SkyBox trading card with great painted images and brief bios. (Click the pic for a larger image.)

Okay kids, hop in the mini-van. It's time to get back to 2008 (what's left of it that is,) but before you go...

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