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'Sword of Azrael' Changes Everything Fans Know About His Origin

'Sword of Azrael' Changes Everything Fans Know About His Origin Image
  • Posted on 09th Aug, 2022 06:44 AM
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Azrael is learning even more about DC Comics' version of the historical Knights Templar in the one-shot Sword of Azrael: Dark Knight of the Soul #1.

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The one-shot prelude to DC's new Sword of Azrael mini-series just changed everything Azrael fans knew about his origins. Azrael, who once filled in for Batman, now patrols Gotham by night while working in a hospice by day. But Azrael's latest opponent just revealed the avenging angel's deep-past connection to none other than Ra's al Ghul.

Azrael—otherwise known as the steadfastly religious Jean-Paul Valley—is most well-known for being a Batman fill-in during the 1990s. But Azrael's origins are much stranger than Batman's; Valley was brainwashed by the Christian group the Order of St. Dumas into believing he was God's avenging angel, Azrael. The Order is a fictional splinter group of the historical Knights Templar, who were active during the Crusades. Most recently, Azrael has been working on overcoming his more violent tendencies, as taught to him by the Order, while aligning himself with a more peaceful version of Christianity. Ra's al Ghul, meanwhile, is the once-immortal keeper of the Lazarus Pits, which grant healing powers and can help one avoid death. Recently, a Lazarus Resin—a synthetic ingestible version of the Lazarus Waters—has been developed, and is now being used around Gotham.

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Related: Azrael Finally Gets The Following Batman's Replacement Deserves

Currently, Azrael is learning even more about DC Comics' version of the Knights Templar in the one-shot Sword of Azrael: Dark Knight of the Soul #1 by Dan Watters, Nikola Cizmesija, Ivan Plascencia, and Ariana Maher. Azrael is accosted by a strange opponent who calls herself the Poor Fellow, a callback to one of the historical names of the Knights Templar. In a flashback to 1152, the Poor Fellow reveals the origins of her mantle—a mantle which predates Azrael, seeing as the Order of St. Dumas is a Templar splinter group. She tells the story of an ancient assassin who does not seem to fear death: a man under the leadership of none other than Ra's al Ghul. The Christian group sees this as utter blasphemy, kills the assassin before he can reach a Lazarus Pit, and dedicates one of its knights to hunting down and destroying the Pits. Now, this contemporary Poor Fellow is in Gotham, seeking the Lazarus Resin in order to destroy it, just like her forebears.

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The introduction of the contemporary Poor Fellow complicates Azrael's already complicated origin even further. First, this historical Christian group has just been connected to Ra's al Ghul and the Lazarus Pits, further cementing Ra's' impact on world history in the DC Universe. Second, and even more interesting, this firmly connects Azrael with Ra's and the Pits. Azrael was programmed by the Order of St. Dumas, which is a splinter group of the Knights Templar. If the Poor Fellow is one the original supernatural-oriented Knights, and the Order broke away after the Poor Fellow's creation, then the Poor Fellow mantle predates Azrael—meaning Azrael may well be modeled after the Poor Fellow figure and the Lazarus Pit hunt.

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The repercussions of this new connection are yet to be seen, but hopefully they will play out in Azrael's current mini-series, Sword of AzraelIn any case, with the introduction of his newest opponent, Azrael's origins have once again shifted, and he may have a brand new connection to the Lazarus Pits—and a brand new Christian-themed nemesis in the Poor Fellow.

More: Batman & Superman's Dark Replacements Collide in New Variant Cover

Check out Sword of Azrael: Dark Knight of the Soul #1, available now from DC Comics!

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