|Character Profiles - Heroes - Azrael/Jean Paul Valley
Real Name: Jean Paul Valley
Aliases: Angel of Vengeance
Former Aliases: Batman II
First Appearance: Batman: Sword of Azrael #1
Presumed death: Azrael: Agent of the Bat #100
Known Relatives: Ludovic Valley (Azrael III, father, deceased)
Group Affiliation: none, formerly The Order of St. Dumas
Known Allies: Nomoz, Dr. Brian Bryan, Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Batman I, Oracle II, Nightwing, Robin III.
Major Enemies: The Order of St. Dumas, Biis, Azrael V, Azrael VI, Azrael VII, Bane.
Created By: Denny O'Neil, Joe Quesada
Several centuries ago, the templar knight Dumas split from his group to found his own Order of St. Dumas. They pillaged villages to gain their wealth, and eventually came upon the fabled treasure of King Solomon. Using this capital, this secret society began collecting information to forward its personal agendae and researching technology that would advance them far beyond the rest of the known world. To guard their knowledge and wealth, the Order created the Azraels. For many generations, each Azrael passed on from father to son.
When Ludovic Valley had impregnated a woman, the Order of St. Dumas retrieved the fetus to develop it on its own. It would then be genetically engineered to be the perfect killing machine, even being injected with animal fluids and given electric shock therapy to make it stronger and more wrathful. Until Jean Paul Valley II was born. Throughout his formative years, the Order secretly subjected Jean Paul through various hypnosis techniques to program his destiny as an Azrael into his coding. Though Jean Paul thought he was living a relatively normal life.
Jean Paul's time finally came when his father died at his feet to pass on the legacy of Azrael, the Angel of Vengeance. Jean-Paul travelled to Switzerland to train with a St. Dumas follower named Nomoz, and be fully ordained. The new Azrael was created. He was then given the task of defeating the St. Dumas traitor named Carleton Lehah, who was also responsible for his father's death. Watching from afar, Batman became interested in Azrael and the Order of St. Dumas. Meanwhile, Lehah envokes the demonic Biis, proceeds to murder members of the Order, and even incapacitates Batman in the process. With Nomoz's new and improved armour, Azrael confronts Lehah at an oil refinery, which erupts into a blazing field. But instead of going after Lehah, Azrael opts to save Batman's life. With that, Jean Paul broke free of the Order's programming, and became one of Batman's trusted allies and a valuable employee at Wayne Enterprises.
So much so, that when the villain known as Bane crippled Batman, Bruce Wayne chose Jean Paul over his erstwhile sidekick Nightwing to take on the mantle of Batman. Jean Paul was honoured and accepted the responsibility, even creating a combination of his Azrael armour with the Batman costume to more affectively defeat Bane. But with the Bat came a drive and power that was almost overwhelming for Jean Paul's already fragile mind. His Batman became more and more aggressive to the brink of madness, wounding many people in the process, including the Joker, Catwoman, and even Robin, whom he severed ties from, claiming his methods and righteous ethics were a burden to his Batman's effectiveness. When Jean Paul let the villain known as Abbatoir die, he also set back the relationship between Batman and Commissioner Jim Gordon into untrusting grounds. Jean Paul's abuse of the Batman persona prompted Bruce Wayne to be determined in regaining his rightful place. After training with the assassin Lady Shiva, Bruce confronted Jean Paul in a showdown that left both severely wounded.
Jean Paul obviously had a bipolar disorder, possibly even schizophrenic personality. As Jean Paul Valley, he was a kind and gentle man, some would even call computer "geek." In the Azrael and Batman costumes, he became an untamed animal capable of mercilessly killing other human beings. With the mantle of Batman returned to Bruce Wayne, Jean Paul made a step towards redemption when he decided to live amongst the homeless in hopes of regaining his humanity and learning the value of human life. It is during this time that Jean Paul met his new friend Brian Bryan, a former-psychiatrist-turned-alcoholic-derelict.
Feeling somewhat responsible for Jean Paul's condition, Batman gave him his Azrael costume and urged him to learn more about himself from the Order of St. Dumas. Jean Paul's return was not met well by the Order, and their leader, Brother Rollo, sicked a new Azrael upon him. During the skirmish, Jean Paul gained another ally in the renegade St. Dumas member named Sister Lilhy. Because of their traitorous actions, the two were deemed enemies of the Order. Together with his friend Brian Bryan, the three then headed for the Middle East to learn more about the Azraels. Finding the laboratory where the Azraels are created, Jean Paul learned of the inhumane breeding processes that contribute to his existence.
After learning about his origins, Jean Paul returned to Gotham City, where he would prove instrumental during the contagion of the lethal Apocalypse Virus, or "The Clench," that was introduced into Gotham. A plague fell upon the city and even created a state of quarantine enforced by the National Guard. With the help of Catwoman, Azrael sought a couple of survivors of the virus, whose blood had the potential to provide a cure. Unfortunately, nothing came of these efforts, and time became of the essence when Robin contracted the virus. When Azrael saw the virus magnified, they were familiar to him, and he realised they were of the same strands as something he had seen at the Order of St. Dumas' laboratory. Going through the old scriptures, with the help of Sister Lilhy's translations, they were able to create an antidote for the Clench.
Jean Paul soon developed mixed feelings for Sister Lilhy, but since they were not reciprocated by her, he did not pursue them. Instead, when Talia Head was seemingly kidnapped, he went to her rescue. But just as Ra's Al-Ghul had done to Batman before him, so too was this a setup to determine Azrael's worth as his son-in-law and eventual successor. The situation was quickly put to a halt, however, when Al-Ghul discovered the traces of animal genes within Jean Paul's blood and deemed him imperfect. Al-Ghul was about to kill him, but Talia helped him escape.
When Bane resurfaced, it was up to Azrael to take him down once more. It was on his way back escorting the incapacitated Bane to the G.C.P.D. that a cataclysmic earthquake hit Gotham City, giving Bane the opportunity to break free. But Azrael was able to contain the villain from realising his escape. Yet Gotham was in ruins. In Bruce Wayne's efforts to garner support for his home, Azrael was asked to escort and protect a senator who could help in convincing the Government in Washington D.C. to provide more assistance. But Azrael failed his task when a man named Nicholas Scratch killed the senator. Gotham had lost one of its supporters, and the Government declares it a lawless "No Man's Land" territory that was to be separated from the rest of the United States. On top of that, Scratch framed Azrael for the senator's murder, prompting him to change into a more superhero-like costume that wasn't as easily recognisable. The Angel of Vengeance felt reborn, and proceeded to help the other Gotham knights in rescuing survivors of the earthquake and containing the major crimes committed during the anarchy. Eventually, Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises helped Gotham back on its feet, even transforming it into a more modern city.
The end of Gotham's "No Man's Land" situation made Jean Paul realise that he had no true life nor home, and question his identity. With Bruce Wayne's sponsorship and Dr. Leslie Thompkins' guidance, Jean Paul and his psychiatrist friend Dr. Brian Bryan set up a clinic using an abandoned church. Trouble came when Nicholas Scratch came by claiming that he was seeking help to redeem himself. Unfortunately, Scratch's true intentions were to frame Jean Paul and Azrael yet for another murder. With the help of Batman and Huntress, Scratch's plans were quickly laid to waste, and it seemed like Jean Paul could finally settle down to start a new life. But when Sister Lilhy returned, she brought back a new Azrael with her that would spell trouble. The new Azrael conspired with Dr. Leslie's brother, Jeremiah Thompkins, to hunt down Jean Paul and Sister Lilhy. The final battle culminated in the new Azrael's death and Jeremiah's escape.
Later, Jean Paul would experience strange changes in his body. He grew physically stronger and much more resilient. But at the same time, his mental stability took a turn for the worse. Dr. Leslie Thompkins diagnosed these changes and explained that, possibly due to all the artificial experimentation done on him as a fetus, his metabolism was now rapidly changing and that he was dying. Jean Paul was shocked and regressed into his aggressive Batman persona, while changing into both his old Batman armour, and then finally coming full circle back into his original Azrael armour. When Nicholas Scratch took on yet another Azrael mantle and continued to misuse the name in public, while the demon Biis returned to finish off Azrael, it all culminated in the disappearance and supposed death of Jean Paul Valley.
Even before Jean Paul's powers appeared before his death, he was already an accomplished fighter that, in his enraged state, could take on even Batman himself. Azrael's abilities and effectivity in combat seemed to be highly dependant on his fluctuating state of mind, which in turn was affected by what costume he wore. The Azrael armour he wore most of the time was one made by the Order of St. Dumas' Nomoz that improved upon Jean Paul's father's armour. It sported the symbol of St. Dumas and was made to be fireproof and bulletproof. The bulk of the armour contained compartments for various tools, as well as for storage purposes. While Jean Paul had a flaming sword like each Azrael before him, he preferred the flammable daggers that could be protruded and retracted from each of his gauntlets. Like all of Batman's "Gotham knights," so too did Azrael have a mobile communications device to regularly contact their information database, Oracle. Though not as adept as Oracle herself, Jean Paul is also quite an able computer whiz himself.
BIO FROM: ComiX-Fan
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