Who's Azrael?

Who's This? An alien angel.
See? Even DC's house ads didn't know. And looks like the answer will make you cry. Okay, here we go...
The facts: Created by Marv Wolfman for the best-selling New Teen Titans, and drawn by José Lui Garcia Lopez, and he only gets a half-page. It was too early to reveal much about him, I guess, but the truth is, he never amounted to much and consequently, his Who's Who entry is still kind of up to date. He showed up in the ramp-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths in Tales of the Teen Titans #51 (March 1985), had a little over a dozen appearances to get his story across, and never really paid off. It's so bad, that reference sites list NTT #30 as his last appearance, but he's actually in #31. Nobody cares, is what I'm saying.
How you could have heard of him: When you hear Azrael today, you think of Jean-Paul Valley who was once Batman ("AzBats") and has had a long career in the Batman Family, one that has spawned a legacy of other Azraels (which I think the New52'S Talons owe a little something to). Indeed, on Wikipedia, Azrael is "the alias of multiple fictional characters appearing in comic books published by in the DC Comics", but none of them are the sad alien from New Teen Titans. It will take someone more devoted than I to set the record straight. Gentle reader, it's your mission, should you choose to accept it.
Example story: New Teen Titans vol.2 #28 (February 1987) "Resurrection" by Marv Wolfman, Paul Levitz, Eduardo Barreto and Romeo Tanghal
It's not clear if Azrael ever had a purpose other than falling under Brother Blood's thrall and bolstering his Messianic ministry as the villain's own pet angel, but that's where his story eventually ended. In NTT #28, he is shown to the world and everybody goes "YES! YES! YES!" awaiting the Rapture.
He's deep into the propaganda.
Bethany Snow, TV reporter, appears to be completely oblivious to his charms and goes full Objective. According to her research, dear WGBS viewer, Azrael, in the Bible, Azrael was the angel who separates life from death. She narrates like she's on the radio, as the so-called Winged Man shimmers and rises and "flies on the strength of your prayers". It's a big show worthy of the worst televangelist, with lasers and the image of giant floating fetus and I guess it's the Second Coming or something. If Brother Blood was all gonna do this with holograms, I wonder, did he really need a flesh and blood angel? The glowing baby becomes a child and then a man, setting things up for Blood's resurrection, and Raven is kind of cradling him as he goes through this change and you're feeling more queasy than enraptured.
Through tears, Azrael begs God to make Brother Blood live again, as his wife Mother Mayhem runs the show from the control room. Could this just be a way to give Blood Raven's power?
Yes, I think so. Eventually, his mind is destroyed by Raven, everyone under his power is released, and he's sent to a monastery to tend sheep in an addled state. This they do at the behest of a friendly who drops Blood off before he flits away... forever.

And I don't think he's seen again (maybe a cameo somewhere?) beyond that. The Titans don't wonder where he is. Lilith, who was his romantic interest, forgets him. It seems his final fate was to be an ironic image, and not much else.

I'd be crying too.

Who's Next? A big baby. Maybe the biggest.

3 comments:

tomg said...

It seems like a missed opportunity to connect him with Dawnstar and her planet.

Siskoid said...

Agreed! Starhaven was settled by the Anasazi in the 13th Century, so why not have one of their people show up in the 20th?

Green Luthor said...

While I would definitely think of Jean-Paul Valley before this guy when I hear the name "Azrael", I'd still first think of Gargamel's cat. (Just me?)

 

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