6 cool AzBats moments

One of the most infamous Batman eras was that time Jean Paul Valley – a university grad student brainwashed by a sect of the Knights Templar into becoming the assassin called Azrael – temporarily replaced Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight. With his psycho personality, tacky armored suit, and brutally violent approach to crimefighting, Valley’s Batman – known among fans as AzBats – was set up from the get-go to be an over-the-top awful version of the Caped Crusader, thus paving the way for Bruce’s glorious return at the end of the Knightfall story arc.

It’s hard not to see in AzBats a tongue-in-cheek parody of 1990s’ *extreme* attitude. One of the running gags was that he kept tweaking his costume’s design, incorporating endless accessories while making it progressively bulkier and cyborg-looking. What’s more, AzBats spent most of the time viciously tearing criminals to shreds and treating Robin like crap (although he still managed to act less like a dick than the protagonist of Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder). He would go on to star in Azrael, easily the shittiest Batman spinoff of the nineties, often settled with laughably bad art, dialogue, plots, characters, you name it. Living up to Jean Paul Valley’s connotation with outrageous excess, that series pushed the savage man-child angle further, revealing him to be a product of centuries of deranged human-animal genetic engineering!

In the world of Batman comics, however, even loathed characters – like the second Robin, Jason Todd – occasionally get to rise above their alleged lameness, or at least prove themselves interesting in their own way. With that in mind, here are half a dozen moments from the Knightfall era in which creators actually did some cool stuff with this twisted version of the Dark Knight:

  1. AzBats screws up Batman’s signature vanishing act when talking to Commissioner Gordon…
detective-comics-666detective-comics-666Detective Comics #666

2. AzBats offhandedly solves a case because he is so damned used to weird brainwashing techniques…

shadow-of-the-bat-24Shadow of the Bat #24

3. AzBats finds himself unexpectedly attracted to Catwoman (right before having a wet dream about her)…

batman-503batman-503Batman #503

4. AzBats nails Batman’s traditional glass-shattering entrance style…

Outsiders 7Outsiders (v2) #7

5. AzBats takes things too far (as usual) by adding a completely gratuitous glass-shattering exit…

chain-gang-war-12Chain Gang War #12

6. AzBats totally gets manipulated by Alfred into doing the right thing…

legends-of-the-dark-knight-060legends-of-the-dark-knight-060legends-of-the-dark-knight-060Legends of the Dark Knight #60

Oh, Alfred

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2 Responses to 6 cool AzBats moments

  1. I can’t vouch for the entirety of the Azrael book, but I enjoyed the multi-part Bane storyline in Azrael #36-40 which led into “Cataclysm.” I’ve always been a big fan of Denny O’Neil’s, and thought he “voiced” Bane better than anyone. The Roger Robinson artwork was distinctive in a good way; heck, I even liked the book’s lettering.

    Expressing this viewpoint may earn me a one-way ticket to Santa Prisca…

    • I.M. Baytor says:

      I guess I should revisit those issues before handing out tickets to Santa Prisca, but I have little love for that series in general… Denny O’Neil is one of the greatest Batman writers, of course, but I don’t think the mid-nineties were very kind to him in terms of inspiration (he also wrote a pretty sucky Nightwing mini-series back then, if I’m not mistaken). Then again, he was editing the Bat-books at the time and I’m a huge fan of the Moench-Dixon-Grant era, so I can’t really stay mad at him!

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