Let’s talk about Azrael
Michael Washington Lane is a vigilante trained alongside two other companions as part of a secret GCPD program to create a potential replacement for Batman. This experiment drove its participants insane and they eventually became the Three Ghosts of Batman, with Lane becoming the villainous Bat-Devil. Later, the Order of Purity would take him as their agent Azrael, a deadly assassin working on behalf of God.
“Dark days are here, Batman. The prophecy has come true. From the ashes of Arkham City, the fires are raging and Gotham is burning. I can see that same fire in your eyes. Before this night is through, that fire will consume you. Gotham will need a new savior, a new guardian, a new Batman.”
Michael Lane’s story
Lane is a man who has been accompanied by misfortune throughout his life. Born in Gotham City to parents Mitchell and Barbara Lane, Michael Washington Lane graduated from East End High School and earned a football scholarship, but he lost this during his sophomore year when he knocked out his coach. Due to this misfortune he decided to turn his life around and joined the Marines, serving twice in Iraq.
As he had become a family man, when he returned to the United States he joined the Gotham City Police Department and sought to have an ordinary life, but this calm would not last long because his son was killed by a car at the age of three and his wife committed suicide one year after. Then this chain of misfortunes continued just six months later with the death of his only living relatives, his two brothers, who were murdered by a satanic sect. This completely broke Michael, and he was fired from the GCPD.
Prior to these tragedies, he had been selected for a military/GCPD experiment with the purpose of him taking Batman's place should the need arise. During this process he was subjected to a series of experiments by Doctor Hurt, which improved his strength and reflexes. This weakened him mentally, but it was something positive for his general health. At least until the misfortunes in his life began which caused him to then go completely crazy, helped along with the mental instability he had developed.
“I am legion. I am every soul who ever bore the suit of sorrows, who ever fell to the swords. All of them. I am all of them”. Azrael
Michael Lane's first appearance was in Batman #665 (2007) as the supervillain Bat-Devil, before assuming the identity of Azrael, he being the second character to do so after Jean-Paul Valley. Azrael was created by the Order of St. Dumas to bring justice to Gotham City, and has been both an adversary and an ally of the superhero Batman.
Following Batman's death, Lane confessed his alleged involvement in Batman's death to a Catholic father, who was a member of the Order of Purity. It was then that Michael was recruited to be the next Azrael of his order. They gave him the Sword of Sin and the Suit of Sorrows, which he had taken from his predecessor in just six weeks.
“If you wish to meet our God…” Azrael
Michael Lane was introduced as Azrael as part of Battle for the Cowl, a story set in a three-issue miniseries format written by Fabian Nicieza.
For his first act as Azrael, Michael had to defend himself against Talia al Ghul and her league of assassins. Talia, still in possession of the Sword of Salvation, wanted to retrieve the suit of sorrows so she could give it to her son, Damian. In the end it is Nightwing who persuades Talia to let Michael keep the Suit of Sorrows.
“I will not die! I will not rise! I am God’s servant! I am his hand of vengeance!” Azrael
His physical condition is exceptional thanks to the experiments that gave him greater strength, speed and endurance. He received training from the US Army, US Intelligence Community, law enforcement and is skilled in martial arts. This, along with the Flaming Sword of Sin and the Sword of Salvation make him a difficult opponent to defeat.
His psyche is also a problem for his enemies. Although in Batman and the Outsiders (vol. 2) #14, the character is shown as a charming man who undergoes various purification rituals overseen by the Order of Purity. Azrael is often shown to be disturbed by his insane obsession due to his past experiences.
“Too slow, Batman. I have the strength and the speed of a hundred and more!” Azrael
Rivals to allies
There is a time in his story where Ra's al Ghul tries to manipulate Michael into destroying Gotham by making him commit suicide and be later resurrected by the Suit of Sorrows, which had been submerged in a Lazarus Pit. Michael worked with the metahuman Crusader to 'judge' Batman, Catwoman, and Red Robin for their past 'sins' to determine if Gotham should be saved.
He is manipulated into perceiving that the Bat-Family has failed their tests. Ra's al Ghul intended for Azrael to detonate Fireball and make it appear as if Gotham had been destroyed by terrorists, inciting a wave of violence that would cleanse Earth and allow Ra's al Ghul to take control, but Batman convinces him to use his swords to test himself, revealing Ra's al Ghul's plan in time for him to stop the planned destruction of the new Bat-Family meta human Fireball. This experience makes Azrael aware of the situation in Gotham city and causes him to more often ally himself with Batman.
“What did I tell you, Michael? What did I say when I gave you the suit?” Batman
Azrael's path has been full of difficulties, but that has made him the great character he is today. Azrael's new miniature is now available for BMG. You have his character card available in the app: Batman Miniature Game to learn about his incredible skills. Don’t miss out!