DC Nation interview with Sean Murphy

Justice League Odyssey
September 2019
Issue #11

What can you tell us about the story?
If you think Jack Napier was unhinged in Batman: White Knight, that’s nothing compared to what Joker does with Azrael in Batman: Curse of the White Knight. As Bruce struggles with the idea of telling the identity of Batman, Joker threatens to expose a hidden truth about the Wayne family. Something that Bruce isn’t even aware of. Something that goes all the way to the founding of Gotham Village in 1685.

Why are you excited about this project?
I’m interested in going deep into the past about the Wayne family and how they’ve come into power in Modern-day Gotham. Batman: White Knight focused a lot on the present, Batman: Curse of the White Knight will focus more on the deep past. And if there is a third series, my plan is to focus on the future of Batman.

What’s it like to be both the artist and the writer of the series (along with your collaboration with Matt Hollingsworth)?
It’s a lot of work, but it’s the most satisfying way for me to make comics. Writing the scripts is also a great way to make sure that the artwork is the best that I can make it. I always put 100 perfect into my books, but being a writer makes me strive for 110%.

How does this tie into the current DC Universe?
This book is set aside from the current DCU. It’s marketed like a Batman movie: a familiar Batman with a different spin. One that doesn’t require the reader to be fluent in 80 years of Batman comics.

Why should fans check this out?
Readers should check this out because it’s slightly different to what they’re used to reading about Batman. And there aren’t many ‘single vision’ mainstream books these days (meaning the writing and art are handled by the same person).

Describe the series in seven words or fewer
If you miss this, you’ll regret it.

What should first time readers know before picking this up?
Nothing! You can come into this series without ever reading a comic.

The New 52 – Convergence

The Convergence story line stars heroes from the ‘Zero Hour’ arc under the banner of the
‘Batman: Shadow of the Bat’ title, each with a variant cover.


Batman: Shadow of the Bat
Issue No. 1 – June 2015
The Dark Side of the Street
With the people of Metropolis trapped under a dome, Bruce Wayne decides to go under cover in hopes to work for the crime boss Tobias Whale. Little does he know that Jean Paul had the same idea and is currently working as Whale’s hired muscle under the assumed name, ‘Johnny Valli.’ As a sort of initiation, ‘Valli’ must give Bruce a brutal beating before joining up.
Bruce and Valli then pay Councilman Hall a visit with Bruce under the orders to murder Hall. Days later the duo are in their batsuits working to hijack Whale’s plans. After knocking Whale unconscious the two batman come to odds in their differing ways of achieving their goals. Bruce then feels a shift in time and reality.


Batman: Shadow of the Bat
Issue No 2 – July 2015
Home is the Sailor
The Wetworks team is on a mission as the city’s champions and are on the hunt for Batman and Azrael. If the duo beat Wetworks however, the inhabitants of the aircrat carrier will be killed.
In the end Azrael strikes up a deal for Batman and Wetworks to team-up in an effort to break down the dome and unite with the heroes on the outside.
Azrael has other plans though and decides to stay with the people of the aircraft city to be their defender.


Red Hood And The Outlaws

Red Hood And The Outlaws
Bizarro Part 2: Knight Knights
Issue No 15 – December 2017
Led by Batwoman, the Gotham Knights team of Azrael, Orphan, Clayface, and Batwing are baited with a holographic message from Bizarro to stand down on the fight against crime in Gotham. The Knights confront Bizarro on his message only to combat the team in battle they easily lose.


Annual No 3
Who Is Agent 37? – The Savior
In this issue, Dick Grayson – Agent 37 in disguise as the Spectre, gathers Harley Quinn, Azrael, John Constantine and Green Lantern Simon Baz together to discuss their run-ins with a mysterious spy whose face none can recall. Azrael’s story titled, ‘The Savior’ sees Agent 37 in the village of Khortamor in the land of Khandaq, where he assists Azrael in guarding ‘The Abraxas Stone.’ The people referred to Grayson as, ‘Almanqidh Majhuli Alhuia,’ or ‘The Faceless Savior.’
After everyone recollect their stories they all realize that they know that the faceless stranger is none other than Dick Grayson, only it is too late as their minds are being wiped of all recollection of their encounters and are left unconscious with no memories of how they were compiled here.

Justice League Odyssey

Issue No 1 – September 2018
Ghost Sector – Part 1
Operating outside of the Justice League, Cyborg and Starfire go on a mission to into the Ghost Sector following a mysterious voice that has called them. Along for the ride is Azrael who also heard this voice calling him to the stars. The team takes in Green Lantern Jessica Cruz when she falls into a radiation gap that Starfire saves her from, pulling her into this unknown mission. The team comes to find that the voice calling them actually belongs to Darkseid as he was calling forward ‘The Goddess, The Machine, and The Angel,’ the ‘New Gods.’



Issue No 2 – October 2018
Ghost Sector – Part 2
The heroes face Darkseid in a battle where he tries to inform them of destinies they are unaware of as ‘the New Gods.’ Darkseid leads the team to a place that appears to be a shrine surrounded y death. A priest reveals to Koriand’r how his people came to this fate before passing along his language to her and dying. The team starts to believe that Darkseid was right and there are different worlds now freed from the Ghost Sector that worship each of them as gods.



Issue No 3 – November 2019
Ghost Sector – Part 3
Leaving the planet that Koriand’r was worshipped, the team finds them selves on a planet covered in snow. Azrael and Jessica Cruz explore for parts to fix Brainiac’s Skull Ship while Cyborg and a mysterious alien medic tend to the illness plaguing Koriand’r. Once cured they help their friends embattled with this planet’s race while the mysterious ‘Rapture,’ a character dressed in Azrael’s non bat armor, observes.



Issue No 4 – January 2018
Ghost Sector – Part 4
Now on the machine world, Cyborg meets the race that worships him as one of the New Gods, however he must first prove that he is not an imposter by facing Azrael in combat. Rapture shows himself to Starfire and Jessica Cruz, pledging his allegiance to Azrael while the planet’s race empart that they are are a people who model themselves after Cyborg with body modification and worship with an in progress working Mother Box.



Issue No 5 – January 2019
Ghost Sector – Part 5
While the team battles the machine army, Darkseid cuts a deal with Starfire’s sister Blackfire in an exchange for the Otherbox he has hidden on Tamaran he will never return. Meanwhile Cyborg plugs into his followers Mother Box to find out the secrets of the Ghost Sector, the reasons why it was hidden, and the effects of it being released from his chambers. Rapture reveals that it was he who killed the followers of Starfire. Now with bitterness that Azrael is not the God he thought him to be, he and his legion of Azrael inspired garb wearing disciples are ready to wage a war to kill the ‘Old Gods.’



Issue No 6 – February 2019
Ghost Sector – Things Fall Apart
In an attempt to get the next piece for the Other Box, Darkseid battles fail safes set in motion by Brainiac to stop him. Greatly weakened though, Darkseid succeeds. Meanwhile on Tamaran, the team finds the planet in ruins and faces the Queen of the planet, Darkfire who plans to take out at least one of the members thinking it will stop Darkseid’s plan to use the components and the Other Box to create a new Apokilips.

The New 52 – Batman & Robin Eternal

Jean Paul Valley makes his official return to the DC Universe as Azrael in the New 52 series
Batman & Robin Eternal. See below for the issues he appears in. Additionally the entire series
was collected in two separate trade volumes.

Issue No 9 – February 2016
The Last to Die
Red Hood and Red Robin ditch Red Robin’s plane and chute down to Santa Prisca where they run into Bane. After a brief battle, they strike a deal to take down the Order of St Dumas and their angel who has been striking many down with Bane having his island back. What the trio find is that the Order have built their church atop the Pena Duro prison. Once inside they are caught with the Order’s angel of death, Azrael. We see flashbacks to years prior where Bruce seeks out ‘Mother’ who knows his identity as Batman, and that he seeks a better Robin.








Issue No 10 – February 2016
He Whom God Helps
Red Hood, Bane and Red Robin take on Azrael. Bane is show the light, as is Red Robin, but not before he and Red Hood hack the system of the Order to find records that show the man under the guise of Azrael was man made by Mother for the order. Azrael uses his tricks on Red Robin and shakes him up, leaving the two Robin’s barely a chance to get out with their lives.
Flashbacks of Bruce’s meet-ups with Mother for a new Robin, and an old quarrel with Dick from his time as a Robin.






Issue No 15 – March 2016
The Deception of St. Dumas
Azrael’s faith is starting to waiver as he meditates and ask for forgiveness at his sanctum in Gnosis. Red Robin comes to the city with an unconscious Red Hood as his gift, asking to join the order. Azrael brings him to meet the current St. Dumas who wants him to become the new Azrael. In doing this Azrael must fight Red Robin to keep his place but is taken down by an electromagnetic pulse and a concrete solution. Meanwhile Jason is caught and has to face his own mental nightmare, reliving his death against the Joker.






Issue No 16 – March 2016
The Dying Joke
Held captive, Azrael and Red Robin learn the truth about how Jean Paul Valley was shaped into the instrument that becomes Azrael. With this knowledge, and anger, he is able to break free and fight back choosing to be his own truth. Through this Tim must try to break through the trauma programming of ICTHYS that Jason is going through reliving his death at the hands of the Joker in his mind. Once free, the trio team up with the info they need, and a plane, and flee the secret land while Azrael destroys it to go on his own journey.






Issue No 24 – May 2016
All Out
The Batfamily and company have their hands full as Mother has released her children all around the world to attack. With Cassandra captive, she has Harper right where she wants her with the promise of giving her the life she could have had if Batman let her if she kills Cassandra. Azrael goes to the Arctic Circle and Meets Agent 37, Dick Grayson, who is also there to take down Mother.







Issue No 25 – May 2016
The batfamily presses on against the children of the world under the control of Mother’s ICTHYS. With Scarecrowe’s new toxin completed, they administer it around the world through the doors to knock the children out of Mother’s hold. Dick is tries to talk sense into Azrael that he can find a better way for himself outside of Mother’s rule.







Issue No 26 – May 2016
New World
The batfamily and all allies take down Mother’s infrastructure base finding that it was built atop an active volcano just in case Mother ever had to erase her tracks. Azrael takes out the main satellite communications from the base to all world coms. It’s the end of the line for Mother as she is killed by her right hand man, David, Orphan.
Harper decides to put the costume away and carve her own niche, Cassandra renames herself Orphan and joins in the mission with Batman.












Detective Comics (Rebirth)

Issue No 934 – August 2016
Rise of the Batmen Part 1: The Young and the Brave
An unknown enemy is taking on crime better than Batman and also targeting vigilantes, starting with beating Azrael within inches of his life. Batman enlists his cousin, Kate Kane, Batwoman, to aid him in training young vigilantes as a team and prepare them for this unknown threat.





Issue No 935 – August 2016
Rise of the Batmen Part 2: Apocalypse Now
Three months have passed and Batwoman is training Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface in ‘the Mudroom,’ a training facility in the Belfry, a place that Red Robin describes as a Batcave in the heart of Gotham City. Batman takes Red Robin to where Jean Paul has been in critical condition under the care of Dr. Leslie Tompkins. Jean Paul gives the duo the tip that it was ‘the Colony’ who bested him. Afterwards Bruce comes face to face with an army of 50 of the Colony for the first time.







Issue No 943 – December 2016
The Victim Syndicate: Part 1 –  Saw the Devil
Everyone on the team is coping with the loss of Red Robin in their ow ways. Batman avoids the team and occasionally interrogates Jacob Kane at the Belfry, Stephanie is withdrawn from the group and spends time with Harper at Leslie Tompkins Free Clinic where Jean Paul also volunteers. In Tim’s absence Batman wants to bring in Lucas Fox, Batwing, into the fold to work with the tech that only Tim could operate.




Issue No 945 – January 2017
The Victim Syndicate: Part 3 – Unforgiven
After being taken to Leslie Tompkins free clinic to discuss Tim’s apparent death her attack by the first victim, Stephanie unleashes her frustrations on Batman. Meanwhile the first victim revisits the clinic again, this time volunteer Jean Paul is ready for them.





Issue No 946 – February 2017
The Victim Syndicate: Part 4 – Death Wish
Stephanie has heart to heart conversation with a program of Tim in the Belfry that only she can access while Batman goes face to face with the first victim. Jean Paul defends the patients of Leslie Tompkins clinic while Harper gets as many as she can to safety.





Issue No 950 – April 2017
Higher Powers
Of the three stories in this ‘Oversize Anniversary Issue,’ The Azrael story focuses on Jean Paul and Lucas discussing the inner workings of the ‘Suit of Sorrows,’ and it’s internal AI that enables Jean Paul to be the perfect ‘angel of death’ to do the Order’s biddings. Meanwhile the suits helmet seems to be transmitting a signal to a robot elsewhere called ‘Ascalon.’





Issue No 951 – April 2017
League of Shadows: Part 1 – Unleashed!
Lady Shiva assassinates Mayor Hady and Batman is framed for it. Many of Gotham’s citizens have been seemingly drugged with a toxin similar to the one that the Joker uses and the team has to diffuse the riots at Adams Square Park.






Issue No 952 – May 2017
League of Shadows: Part 2  – Five Fingers of Death
Thanks to a tip months ago by Ra’s Al Ghul, Lady Shiva now knows where her daughter Cassandra is. During the effort to contain the riots in Adams Square Park both Azrael and Batwing are stabbed and taken by the League of Shadows while Orphan meets her mother, Shiva, in hand to hand combat and, uable to fight her own mother, loses. The GCPD are about to go on a manhunt for Batman thinking he is responsible for the assassination of the Mayor.




Issue No 955 – June 2017
League of Shadows: Part 5 – Fists of Fury
A captured Azrael, Batwoman, and Batwing are chained and naked, watched by a rather large number of he League of Assassins. After coming to from her last battle, Orphan infiltrates the league with precision, frees the batfamily and is ready to take on her mother, Shiva.






Issue No 956 – July 2017
League of Shadows: Finale – The Duel
It’s Cassandra against her mother in a fight that only ends due to Ra’s Al Ghul’s shooting Shiva. The Colony almost uses a new ‘swarm’ tool to kill the League of Assassins but is stopped once Colonel Kane realizes that one of them is Kate in disguise as one of them.






Issue No 958 – August 2017
Intelligence: Part 1
Jean Paul, Kate and Lucas take a night off to see a Gotham Guardsman game when Nomoz from the Order of St Dumas appears looking for Jean Paul. Bringing Nomoz back to the Belfry to tend to his wounds they are alerted of the threat of Ascalon in Gotham. Across town Bruce is seeking Zatanna at the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge when Ascalon crashes the party.





Issue No 959 – August 2017
Intelligence: Part 2 – Transcendence
The Batfamily take on Ascalon when it suddenly disappears after coming face to face with Azrael. Nomoz is now being examined by a Docto who specializes in sentient beings and Bruce asks Zatanna for a favor pertaining to Tim. After the encounter with Ascalon Jean Paul needs to meditate when something is awakened inside of his mind.





Issue No 960 – September 2017
Intelligence: Part 3 – Short Circuit
Zatanna warns Batman of the dangers in using the Gnosis Sphere to find out what happened to Tim. The header of the Order of St Dumas who is only referred to as ‘Father’ by Ascalon instructs him to seek his answers, removing any roadblocks in his programming. Jean Paul tries to gain answers from Nomoz as to why the System seems to be regaining control of his mind. Batwing and Batwoman head to his workshop to find his army of AI soldiers but are interrupted by the entrance of Ascalon which sends them literally running.




Issue No 961 – September 2017
Intelligence: Part 4 – Ghost In The Shell
Batman and Zatanna discuss the power of the Gnosis sphere and remember the first time she told Bruce about it when they were teenagers. Jean Paul is now under the control of Ascalon once more as Azrael and taking on his teammates while a battle rages between himself and Ascalon in his head. After Zatanna makes Azrael go to sleep, Lucas proposes an idea to allow Jean Paul to regain control of himself and still access the same abilities he has with the Suit of Sorrows.



Issue No 962 – October 2017
Intelligence: Finale – Judgement Day
The final battle is on as Jean Paul, now wearing a specialized batsuit with an AI designed as Batman, faces Ascalon. During the fight Nomoz is slain by Ascalon. Still having control of Lucas’ automated batsuits, Ascalon taps into the mainframes and minds of the entire city and is ready to kil all until Zatanna gives him the Gnosis sphere, opening his eyes and disappearing into an abyss to learn more. Before leaving Ascalon reveals to Batman that Tim is still alive. Two days later Jean Paul reveals to Batman that he still feels the Batman AI in his head, posing the question if he may soon think he is Batman as he did when he awoke in his batsuit.


Issue No 965 – November 2017
A Lonely lace of Living – Chapter 1
Tim sits through a interrogation with a man Mr. Oz who eventually reveals himself to be Jor-El. Tim uses his suits onboard computer to send an SOS to Batman and ends up coming face to face with the future version of himself as Batman with a gun.







Issue No 967 – December 2017
A Lonely Place of Living – Chapter 3
Tim and his future self have escaped and are now in Gotham. Beaten pretty bad, Tim makes it to the hospital where Bruce meets him and takes him back to the Belfry. Meanwhile future Tim visits Alfred and faces off against Nightwing, Redhood and Robin before activating Brother Eye in the Batcave.





Issue No 968 – January 2018
A Lonely Place of Living – Conclusion
Future Tim reveals that what makes him who he is are the actions of Batwoman in the not too distant future. Using Brother Eye, Future Tim uses The Colony’s drones to destroy the Belfry, but Batwing is able to override the programming. The time stream needs to realign itself and Future Tim returns back to his time.




Issue No 969 – January 2018
Fall of the Batmen – Part 1
The standard cover is the only place that Azrael appears in this issue.






Issue No 970 – February 2018
Fallen of the Batmen – Part 2
Tim starts to immerse himself in the inspiration left in the wake of meeting his future self. The batfamily go against ninja robots programmed to know each of the members moves. Dr. Victoria October believes she is onto a cure to make Clayface Basil Karlo again, but he wants the cure to be used on his first true victim first.





Issue No 971 – February 2018
Fall of the Batmen – Part 3
Batman gives into the Victim Syndicate and heads into Arkham Asylum alone. Basil faces his first real victim and takes her out. With his dampener off and destroyed he seemingly becomes the villain he once was again.





Issue No 972 – March 2018
Fall of the Batmen – Part 4
It’s Clayface against the batfamily, from Arkham to the Belfry, but what happens when the excess clay from the mudroom recombines with Basil?







Issue No 973 – March 2018
Fall of the Batmen – Finale
The Belfry is destroyed and Clayface is literally terrorizing the city. Tim is in a coma and Azrael is controlling an army of mechanized Batwing’s to battle Clayface. Cassandra is able to temporaryily administer Dr. October’s cure and Batwoman shoots him in the head with a weapon given to her by her father.




Issue No 974 – April 2018
Knights Fall
With Clayface dead the batfamily grieves, but none more than Cassandra who tears the bat symbol off of Batwoman in a rage. Azrael and Batwing take Batwoman’s side and are told they can leave along with her if they would like. Dr. October cures Mudface, Stephanie leave the batfamily and Tim as he contemplates to Batman if he is in fact the one putting his own future into the motion of the wrong path.



Issue No 975 – April 2018
The Trial of Batwoman
The Batfamily of Batman, Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl, Red Hood, and Damien have a round table discussion of what exactly should be done in regards to Batwoman’s actions. Batwoman has a talk with Lucas about bringing him and Azrael into a new strike force team as part of The Colony.




Issue No 976 – May 2018
Batman Eternal – Part 1
With the loss of Clayface, Cassandra is having grief therapy sessions with Dr. Leslie Tompkins and Batman wants Red Robin to see her o next visit as well. Batwoman, Azrael, and Batwing’s new partnership with The Colony has them facing the Court of Owls in South America. Sealed out of the Batcave, Ulysses confronts Tim and wants to strike a bargain.




Issue No 977 – May 2018
Batman Eternal – Part 2
Ulyses offers Tim a glimpse of the future culled straight from his future selfs batsuit, and it’s unsettling. Tim considers his offer and meets up with batman to confess his insecurities since their visit. Ulysses uses Brother Eye to take control of two Colony members.





Issue No 978 – May 2018
Batman Eternal – Part 3
Batman meets Batwoman and Colonel Kane at Kane manor, not knowing they are being set up by Ulysses. Back at the Batcave, Tim figures out that Ulysses has used nonotech in the Colony’s soldiers to control hem against their will. Not only that, he has also installed the nanotech into Tim to control him as well.




Issue No 979 – June 2018
Batman Eternal – Part 4
Tim is now under Ulysses control through the nanotech and brother eye, with a battl raging in Tim’s psyche as Ulysses uses his body to begin ushering in The Belfry 2.0. Cassandra fights off the soldiers in the Batcave until Batman shows up to seek out Stephanie for help.





Issue No 981 – July 2018
Batman Eternal – Finale
With Stephanie’s help, Tim is able to fight back as he is seen the real reason Kate shoots Bruce dead in the future and the truth about brother eye is revealed. Ulysses is taken down and the batfamily goes it’s separate ways. Lucas has decided to step away from being Batwing to ensure that brother eye cannot come back online. Azrael is in talks to join Cyborg for a task force mission. Cassandra joins Leslie Tompkins as a volunteer and tutoring by way of Barbara Gordon. Clayface is revealed to be alive and leaving the city with Dr. October. Batwoman adds the bat back to her suit. Tim and Stephanie leave Gotham for an adventure of their own.

Azrael History Lesson

Below is sort of a crash course in Jean Paul Valley as Azrael. Instead of doing a separate bio/about for the original, and the current version, I decided to write about both in a sort of compare/contrast way, discussing their similarities and differences. Be warned it can get confusing!

Post Crisis Earth – New Earth (1992-2003)
New 52/Rebirth – Prime Earth (2014-current)

The new/current iteration of Jean Paul Valley as Azrael was brought into the New 52/Rebirth continuity by writer James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder due to Tynion’s love of the late 90’s Batfamily. Particularly Tynion’s favorite era of the Batfamily from the No Man’s Land arc which featured Batman, Robin (Tim Drake), Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Azrael (Jean Paul Valley), Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Batgirl (Cassandra Cain), and Huntress (Helena Bertinelli).

Tynion reintroduced Azrael during the 26-issue limited story run, Batman and Robin Eternal. This series arc went into back stories and reintroduced Jean Paul Valley as Azrael, a product of a partnership created by Mother for The Order of St. Dumas as their secret weapon; an ‘Angel of Death,’ who is dubbed ‘Project Azrael.’ There were major differences between this Azrael and the original version created by the characters original creators, Dennis O’Neil and Joe Quesada.

This new Azrael by Tynion was not a ‘test tube baby,’ like the original New Earth version, but instead was actually taken from his family at an early age after made to witness his own parents deaths. Going by the thought that tragedy created the will from inside, such as that with Bruce Wayne, this theory was proved to generally carry true in many of the persons who would be manipulated by Mother. From there, Jean Paul was brainwashed and reprogrammed by Mother of his prior familial bonds and placed with The Order of St. Dumas on Santa Prisca.

Placing the Order of St. Dumas on the island of Santa Prisca is most likely a nod to Bane as both the original New Earth and New 52/Rebirth version was born and bred at the prison which held its base there. The original New Earth version of the Order of St. Dumas however was based in the coldest region of Switzerland, not the tropics, with the Order being incredibly secretive and somewhat along the lines of the Illuminati. This Prime earth version of the order however was known somewhat as a worldwide conglomerate with its hands in technology and business affairs. Additionally, the New Earth Azrael and Bane are two characters who are generally synonymous with each other as they were both created for the sole purpose of inclusion for a single game changing extended story arc.

The original New Earth version of Azrael was of a long line of subjects who had taken the mantle of Azrael once its predecessor/father, had failed fatally in combat.
Men who were to become Azrael were subliminally trained from birth with the knowledge of ‘The System,’ which would give the person the means to be a skilled expert combatant and assassin for The Order of St Dumas should their bidding need to be done. As for the physical prowess, once able to be incubated, the subjects would be put into a tube and fed with specific animal proteins and hourly electro shock therapy to create the ‘rage’ that would drive an Azrael in battle.

Though the New Earth version of Azrael was from the Order of St. Dumas, which was very often referred to as a religious sect, it was never truly reflected. However, throughout the first quarter of Azrael’s solo series there were indications that he was learning more about the Order’s background from both Sister Lilhy and, when appeared, the dwarfling trainer Nomoz. That however changed with the New Earth version which was more along the lines of the Order being a faith that its followers believed and worshiped that could perform miracles. This was demonstrated once showing a mute given the ability to speak.

Bringing the character more into this century, his suit was more of a living entity with A.I. that fed the wearer, Jean Paul, information. The new suit, dubbed ‘The Suit of Sorrows,’ is actually the name of the suit worn by the Michael Lane iteration of the character introduced by Fabian Nicieza in 2009 during the ‘Battle for the Cowl’ story line. The New Earth versions of Azrael wore a suit which had remained unchanged until Nomoz, an acolyte of the Order who acts almost as a welcome host when a new Azrael is awakened, creates a new armor for Jean Paul to combat in current times in the second issue of Sword of Azrael. This time, the suit is able to withstand most types of bullets, and is fireproof. Also, due to Jean Paul’s constant loss of the sword as a weapon, gauntlets fed by flames in the gloves replaced the weapon.

Lane was not of the Order of St. Dumas, but the Order of Purity; a fact that is often mistaken due to his inclusion in the Arkham video games, and the suit was pieced together by previous templar warrior’s armors that fell during the Crusades. This suit was also considered to be cursed and drove the wearer mad with guilt over previous deaths from combat.

Both the New and Prime Earth versions of Jean Paul are highly intelligent individuals. Though the Prime Earth Jean Paul is mainly fed his information through his suits programmed A.I., the New Earth Jean Paul was a Graduate student of Computer Science from Gotham University. Jean Paul’s background in understanding of algorithms, engineering and even A.I., sans growing Detective skills, put him in the same league as Oracle as far as digital intelligence is concerned.

Not long after becoming Azrael, Jean Paul would be taken under the wing of Bruce Wayne to ensure that his training could be properly focused. Wayne knew that the young hero could potentially be a major threat from his previous encounter. Jean Paul would work for Wayne Industries by day and train by night. However, due to an encounter with Bane leaving Bruce unable to continue as Batman, the cape and cowl were passed onto Jean Paul. Eventually Jean Paul would redesign the bat suit, fusing it with some of the artifacts of his Azrael suit, the most noticeable being the upper body armor. Eventually Bruce would take back the mantle of the bat once more after ‘The System,’ would start to manipulate Jean Paul’s mind and drive him to do things, most notably kill, that the Batman would not do.

The Prime Earth version of Jean Paul Valley seemingly did not take over as Batman as evidenced by the reaction to the ‘KnightsEnd’ style suit that he dons in the Detective Comics story arc, ‘Intelligence.’ However, in Batman and Robin Eternal it is somewhat alluded that Jean Paul did take over after Bruce fell at the hands of Bane. This is one of Tynion’s mistakes that often gets overlooked. Most likely the writers were not sure if they were, and if so, which parts of the New Earth history would be ret-conned into the current Prime earth.

Tynion may have been a fan of the ‘No Man’s Land’ era of the batfamily, but did not do his research on Azrael as much of the information he used was more of an amalgamation of back story for the Michael Lane Azrael character that was created by Rocksteady games for the popular Arkham video game series. Rocksteady did not do their homework as they used Lane but referred to him as an agent from The Order of St. Dumas, whom he was not. As the game was very popular it has caused much confusion with fans who did not realize that there are two different Azrael’s and Lane is not the one who became Batman during the popular Knightfall story arc.

Knightquest – The Crusade

detective667coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 667 – October 1993
Wild, Wild East
It’s official, Jean Paul is now the Batman and taking to the mean streets of Gotham. However, getting bored with common criminals, he starts to tweak his suit and uncovers one of Harold’s creations, the subway rocket! This new vehicle uses long abandoned Gotham City sudway roads that date back to a literal underground railroad connected throughout the city.  Meanwhile the Trigger Twins come to town and join a local mob ring.






detective668coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 668 – November 1993
Still new to the subway rocket, JPV almost gets into a head-on collision with an actual train while trying to stop the Trigger Twins from robbing a money train! Due to his father’s condition, Tim is able to receive his license early and heads down to the batcave to pick up a car that was promised to him by Bruce. Showing up in his Robin uniform he has an altercation with Jean Paul who informs him that this Batman does not need a partner. Almost strangled to death, Robin escapes Jean Paul and is locked out of the cave.






shadowbat19coverBatman: Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 19 – October 1993
The Tally Man: Part One
After handling some routing street crime, Batman sees a building with isolation chambers and decides to try one out, wondering if it may help him discover more about himself. Across town the Tally Man is collecting life debts. One of his trails leads him to the warehouse district Batman is at and decides he may as well take out the new dark Knight as well.







shadowbat20coverBatman: Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 20 – November 1993
The Tally Man: Part Two
With both Batman and the Tally Man dealing with the effects of the isolation chamber, they  attle their minds and each other. Thanks to a falling water tower and the system kicking in, Batman is able to take down the Tally Man, beating him inches away from death before leaving him for the police to take over.







Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 501 – November 1993
Codename: Mekros
Batman gets a vision from St Dumas, telling him he must continue his crusade as Gotham’s dark angel. After breaking up a mob meeting, the bosses get together and hire a former government agent to down Batman. After a meeting Commissioner Gordon notices that something is very different about Batman.







Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 502 – December 1993
Phoenix In Chaos
Batman survives his first formidable encounter and defeats both Mekros, as well as anothet hisman who was hired to take out Mekros. Batman goes on to form an unlikely alliance with Mayor Krol.








detective669coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 669 – December 1993
Town Tamer
The Trigger Twins are back again, this time they have hijacked the Public Transit Authority System’s train that collects all money from public transportation. Batman chases down the stolen train and brings them in to justice.








detective670coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade (Mislabeled as part of ‘The Search’
Issue No 670 – January 1994
Cold Cases
The body of Mr. Freeze washes up on shore from his last encounter with the Joker. He is brought into the Gotham City morgue by Bullock and Montoya when it is thawed out, temporarily bringing Freeze back to life. Batman and Montoya take down Freeze, but she is left shaken after witnessing the brutality of Batman.







Knightquest – The Crusade (Mislabeled as part of ‘The Search’
Issue No 6 – January 1994
Animal Rites
Catwoman and a group of animal rights activists set out to stop a group of corporate developers who have developed a neurotoxin to be rid of protected species. The notes for this toxin are stolen and must be acquired.








Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 503 – January 1994
Night Becomes Woman
Believing that Catwoman is the thief of the Xylon-C neurotoxin, he tracks down and encounters her, only to find that she can very easily tell via pheromone that he is not the Batman she has faced all these years. While in the Batcave, Jean Paul researches her through the files Bruce kept in the batcomputer, trying to figure out why she has gone free all these years. He also wrestles with ‘thoughts’ of her.






Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 504 – February 1994
Dark Dance
Jean Paul has another vision of St. Dumas while he chases Catwoman. The Gotham PD find Catwoman with the canister of the Xylon-C neurotoxin, believing her to be involved in terrorism as the docks catch fire.








Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 7 – February 1994
Body Chemistry
Catwoman escapes the police and displays that what she has is in fact a decor. With Batman’s help, they rescue the scientist who initially concocted the toxin and save the attendees of an international conference from being poisoned.








detective671coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 671 – February 1994
The Cutting Room Floor
The Joker forces Hollywood big wigs to fund his movie, ‘The Death of Batman,’ and begins to stage crimes to get footage of Batman in action. While checking on a mugging victim, Batman witnesses her falling to her demise from a window.








detective672coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 672 – March 1994
Smash Cut
Batman moves into  save Robin who turns out to be the mugging victim he saved the previous night dressed up as Robin as part of one of his staged acts for his film. Captured by the Joker, the Gotham PD decide to step in after receiving a poster for Joker’s film in progress.








detective673coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 673 – April 1994
Losing The Light
Chained into a situation he can’t quite get his way out of, Batman wrestles with himself and the demons of the system. Watching batman’s actions, the Joker is infuriated when he comes to the realization that this is not the Batman he has faced all of these years. Once Batman breaks free it takes the Gotham PD to stop him from permanently taking the Joker out.







Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 505 – March 1994
Blood Kin
Jean Paul begins to embrace the detective side of Batman as he investigates a murder scene and begins to have a vision of St. Dumas and his father battling over the direction of his life. The murderer Abattoir kills five members of his family and is now going after his cousin and a bus full of children. This encounter sees Jean Paul redesigning his cape.







shadowbat26coverBatman: Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 26 – April 1994
Creatures of Clay – Diary of a Lover
While checking in on the survivors of Abattoir’s school bus attack, Batman is attacked by Lady Clayface who begrudgingly wants to kill him. Meanwhile, Clayface III kidnaps Abattoirs cousin, Graham Etchison, who is being counseled by Leslie Thompkins.








sotb27coverBatman: Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 27 – May 1994
Creatures of Clay – Child’s Play
After being defeated by Batman, Lady Clayface reveals that she is only going to these measures because Abbatoir has kidnapped her and her lover’s child. Batman instead meets at the rendezvous point to save the baby and brings Clayface III to justice. Abbatoir however escapes and straps Graham Etchison to the death machine while Batman wonders if this baby will turn out as its parents did.







Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 506 – April 1994
Malevolent Maniax
Batman joins Ballistic who comes into town under contract to kill Abbatoir.









Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 507  – May 1994
Also in town on contract to take down Abbatoir, Batman and Ballistic take down the Maniaxe in a Gotham city nightclub. After taking out the lawyer who set the contract in motion, Ballistic collects his fee and leaves town.







Comic Talk: Mike Manley

Comic Talk Magazine
August 1993
Issue #7

First off, can you tell me how you ended up getting involved with Batman?
After issue 25 of Darkhawk, I decided that I was going to leave the title because I had done 25 issues straight. I figured 25 issues in a row is a pretty long run by today’s standards. I was getting a little burned out and didn’t want to start doing poor quality work. So I wanted to leave after issue 25, which was the biggest selling issue, probably since the first issue.
I’d known Archie Goodwin for several years, so I decided to go over to DC to see if they had any Legends of the Dark Knight for me to do. I figured what I would do was float around and see what else I could pick up. Archie gave me the Legends of the Dark Knight annual to do, which, in turn led to other people seeing samples of my work – specifically Neal Pozner and Dennis O’Neal.
Than one evening at around 7:30 at night, Dennis calls me up and goes, ‘Would you like to do Batman?’ I thought about it for about 30 seconds and said, ‘Yeah, sure!’ It was great because they asked me, so I felt very flattered.


Have you always wanted to do Batman?
I would say he was one of the characters from when I was a real fan, back in my teens, that I liked. Specifically, what Neal Adams did on him. I was a super big fan of his stuff; I used to blatantly imitate his stuff. I used to draw so much like Neal Adams that it hurt.
Maybe I’m different from some other people, because it was rare that I would fall I love with a character because the artist that I like is doing the book. Since Neal did a lot of Batman stories, I ended up liking the character.


How do you see Batman? Do you see him more as a grim and gritty Dark Knight, or as a reasonably well-adjusted caped-crusader? Or as something entirely different?
It’s something that I had to ask myself because I hadn’t read Batman comics for a very long time really – besides the ones that Neal Adams and Dennis O’Neal did. Occasionally, I would look at the title of someone like Michael Golden or somebody that I liked worked on it.
That was my reference point, basically, until Frank Miller and then with David Mazzucchelli did Year One. That seems to have set the tone.
Adams came back and established the creature of the night, the dark aspect of the character, being spooky and creepy. I imagine it will take a few issues to get my own feeling of the character because in a way, I’m working off of the inspiration of the artists that I admired as a teenager. That’s what’s firing me right now.
I don’t really know. He’s pretty much a dark, grim character. I think he has a pretty bent personality in some ways. He’s obsessing over this one event so much that he’s willing to put himself through this torture and pain, mentally and physically, to avenge the death of his parents.
It also has to do with what Doug Moench has in store for the character. At this point I have just received the script for Batman issue 500 and I will be starting on it in the next week or so. I’ve talked briefly with Jordan Gorfinkel, Dennis O’Neal’s assistant, and Doug. It’s like everything is speeding along so fast you just have to grab on.


What’s it like coming in at the tail end of a rather exciting timeline?
There are four or five Batman books right now, so different parts of the story take place in different titles. I get a script from Doug Moench and it’s like a telephone book. It’s huge compared to the plots I usually get from Marvel.
So there is a big of an adjustment working from a full script. That’s going to take a rearranging of the creative process at the beginning.


Are there any other differences you noticed in making the switch from Marvel to DC?
Well, I would have to say that for me, I would say that DC wants me to be the best Mike Manley on the character. They all seem to be very encouraging and very excited to see what I’m going to turn out. I hope I don’t disappoint everybody and send the sales into the dumpster.
I think there is a difference in personalities of the people that I’m working with, just like when you change any job. You go from one job to another. You have to get to know the people at the job and then you develop a rapport and a routine with them.
I’m really looking forward to collaborating more closely with Doug Moench and Dennis O’Neal on this stuff. It’s hard to say how things are going to turn out because at this point, I have drawn only seven pages for Legends of the Dark Knight Annual. I am also inking an issue of Shadow of the Bat that my good friend Bret Blevins is doing. In fact, he’s the guy who recommended that I go see Archie. Bret Broke his contract at Marvel, went to DC and got a good reception there. They gave him Legends of the Dark Knight issue 50, which is retelling the first meeting of Batman and the Joker. He was very ecstatic about the way things were going, so he said, ‘You should go. You should call Archie, you should go see him!’
So I did, although it did make me feel a bit strange because I did know Archie to a degree socially. I felt like, ‘I don’t want to call him up and ask for a job.’ [Laughter] That’s what I did anyways.


You mentioned that you want to collaborate with Moench. Do you want to write any Batman stories on your own?
At this point it’s too soon in the creative process for me. I think what I really want to do now is concentrate on the art side of it. I think that they have the plot for the next eight or nine stories at this point. I would imagine to Batman issues 510 to 512. I just want to concentrate on the artwork right now. I think if I was to concentrate too heavily on the plotting, it would become too much.
Sure, I would like to do a Batman story myself somewhere down the road or stories with other characters. But I’m quite happy at this point to be able to pencil and ink my own work on a monthly basis and I’m trying to take my work up a level or two. That’s very difficult when you have to produce a certain amount of pages per day. Day in and day out, week after week, you can’t fall behind work or books start missing shipping.
I think if I was to try and write…I’m so booked now, even besides Batman, with other special projects, I really don’t have the time.


So you’re going to ink Batman as well?
That’s a goal I made for myself after doing that on and off with Darkhawk. Nothing against other people that I’ve worked with, Ricardo Villagran is a great guy. I have had other people from time to time on the book, but there is a certain satisfaction that you have when you finish the artwork yourself. If you mess it up, at least you mess it up. If it’s successful, then you feel good. I look at the inking really as the drawing.
The way comics are set up today, they specialize everybody so that you have guys that just pencil, guys who just ink. You have guys who pencil who, if you asked them to ink their work, would be absolutely lost. I try to take after more the old school where most of the guys inked their own work. Besides the layout, the inking is the most important stage. Because after you erase the page, the pencil is gone and all you have left is the ink. If the inker isn’t very good, if the inker you’re working with loses your drawing or the emotional quality of your work, it can seriously alter the impact that you’re trying to give the reader on the page, besides destroying the drawing.
I guess you’re aware Batman gets a new costume as you come on the book.
Yeah, he’s getting a new costume. I’ll be working on that now. Issue 500 is split into two parts. Jim Aparo is doing he first part and that’s going to be inked by Terry Austin. And then, starting right on the first page that I do, he’s in his new costume.
How long he will have the new costume, I don’t know because I’m just as surprised as everybody else at this point. I don’t know the full story.


Graham Nolan told me that the new costume was a little difficult to drawn.
It’s pretty complicated. But if you draw them 400 times over the course of a year, you can generate ‘em out of your imagination, no problem. It’s just part of the job.


Batman is going through a lot in this story. What did you think when you heard about all the stuff that was happening to him?
I think they’re doing a real smart thing. They had a great success with The Death of Superman. With competition being the way it is in the marketplace today, you’ve got to come up with some good ideas to capture the readership. Everybody has a lot more choices today. I think what they’ve come up with is great so far and I think that some people may have guessed what it is while some people won’t have guessed at all.
I think the best thing about Batman is that he’s such a basic, simple character that so many people can do so many different takes and interpretations on him. I think that’s why he’s lasted 50 years. There are a lot of characters who are interesting, but they lasted 50 years.
It’s the same with Superman. Maybe it’s a little more difficult with Superman, because you can’t make him a dark Superman. It might be a little bit harder to do certain things with a character like that. Whereas Batman is a vigilante and I think that those are timeless characters. They can appeal to a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.


Do you think Batman goes far enough in his dealings with criminals? Do you think he should be a bit more ruthless or is he fine as he is?
The Batman of old of new?


The Batman of new
It’s hard to say. I think it really depends upon what each creator, what each writer or each artist is going to bring to the character and what kind of story they’re trying to tell. If you’re trying to tell a story of a guy who’s slowly, inch by inch, losing it, he may slip. He may go a little too far; he may whale on somebody a little too hard.
That is something that has also been done a lot. Part of the problem that people face in this business now is that you get on a character like Batman who has been around so long, you have to ask yourself, ‘What haven’t they done with him?’ There’s been so much done with him.
Also, I think with the movies and things like that, there’s a certain amount of restriction as to what they can do with the character.


Is there anything else you want to say about being the artist on Batman?
I guess I’m going to try harder than ever to do the best I can because the competitions stiff. If you can’t hack it you can be replaced easily.